Running backs in the NFL have been a force in recent years as their numbers continue to increase. In the past decade, we have seen some amazing backs both running and catching the football. This generation of NFL fans have been blessed to watch such players as these guys.
Here are the top ten running backs from the past decade.
Corey Dillon was drafted out of Washington by the Bengals in 1997. Dillon started off his career with six straight 1,000-yard seasons. In the year 2000, Dillon broke Walter Payton's single-game rushing record of 275 yards. Dillon carried the ball 22 times for 278 yards and two touchdowns. His record would not last, though, as it was broken in 2003 by Jamal Lewis.
Dillon then signed with the New England Patriots in 2004 and had a career year. In his first season with the Patriots, Dillon helped them beat the Philadelphia Eagles to win their third Super Bowl in four years.
Dillon ranks 17th all-time in rushing with 11,241 yards.
This 245-pound back burst onto the scene in 2000 and helped the Baltimore Ravens win their first Super Bowl by beating the New York Giants.
This back out of Tennessee ranks 21st on the list of all-time leading rushers with 10,607 yards. Lewis had seven 1,000-yard seasons, including a rushing title in 2003. His 2003 rushing title came during a year when he ran for an amazing 2,066 yards. The 2003 season included the game where he broke Corey Dillon's single-game rushing record with 295 yards.
Lewis became the fifth running back to run for 2,000 yards in a single season.
Running back Fred Taylor fought through some injuries early in his career, but he managed to get through them.
Since being drafted from Florida by the Jaguars in 1998, Taylor has become the all-time leading rusher for Jacksonville. No. 28 ranks 15th all-time in rushing with 11,638 yards.
Taylor is now in New England, wrapping up his career.
Running back Tiki Barber spent 10 seasons with the New York Giants, and many believed that he retired too soon. Although Barber may have left the game in his prime, it does not take away from what he did in New York.
Barber was a tremendous all-purpose back, totaling over 17,000 all-purpose yards during his 10 seasons with the Giants. Barber came close to winning a rushing title in 2005 with 1,860 yards, falling 20 yards short of Seattle's Shaun Alexander.
Barber ranks 22nd all-time with 10,449 yards rushing.
After being drafted out of Alabama by the Seattle Seahawks in 2000, Shaun Alexander was one of the most productive backs in the NFL. Alexander had five 1,000-yard seasons in his nine-year career, including one rushing title in 2005 when he ran for 1,880 yards. The year prior, Alexander fell one yard short of Curtis Martin for the 2004 rushing title.
The 2005 season was Alexander's best year, which included 28 total touchdowns to break Priest Holmes' previous record of 27.
Alexander finished up his career with the Washington Redskins and has rushed for 9,453 yards in his career.
After spending his first three seasons with the New England Patriots, Curtis Martin joined the Jets and became a fan favorite. Martin shined in New York, and not only did he produce, he was durable. Martin started every game at running back for the Jets from 1999-2004. 2004 was a career year for Martin, as he rushed for 1,697 yards and beat out Shaun Alexander by one yard for the rushing title.
Martin showcased his talent in New York and eventually became the fourth-leading rusher of all time. Curtis "My Favorite" Martin, as ESPN's Chris Berman would say, ran for 14,101 yards in his career, just behind Emmit Smith, Walter Payton and Barry Sanders.
What good company.
Priest Holmes' early career with Baltimore was fairly quiet, but in 2001 when he joined the Kansas City Chiefs, he established himself as one of the best running backs in the league.
In his first season with the Chiefs, Holmes rushed for 1,555 yards winning the rushing title. This was the first of Holmes' milestones, as he became a touchdown machine during his tenure with the Chiefs.
Holmes broke Marshall Faulk's touchdown record of 26 in 2003, when he ran for 27 touchdowns. Holmes was by far one of the best all-around backs of the 2000's.
Edgerrin James was drafted by the Colts in 1999 and instantly established himself as a top running back in the NFL. James won two rushing titles in his first two seasons as a pro. James did have some injury issues, but he overcame them and picked up right where he left off before he got hurt.
James ran for 1,000 yards seven out of his 11 seasons in the NFL.
No. 32 ranks 11th all-time with 12,246 yards rushing.
Marshall Faulk joined the Rams in 1999 after five seasons with the Indianapolis Colts. Faulk was successful with the Colts, but it was nothing compared to his production in St. Louis.
Faulk caught 80 plus passes from 1998-2002, three of those seasons coming with the Rams. In 2000, Faulk broke Emmit Smith's record of 25 rushing touchdowns win 26 of his own. 18 of those 26 touchdowns came on the ground.
Faulk has over 19,000 all-purpose yards in his career, and is 10th on the all-time in rushing with 12,279 yards.
No surprise here. LaDainian Tomlinson was by far the most productive back of the 2000's. Tomlinson opened up his career with eight straight 1,000-yard seasons, including seven consecutive 1,200-yard seasons, which is the most all-time.
Tomlinson broke Shaun Alexander's touchdown record of 28, when he scored an amazing 31 total touchdowns in 2006. The 2006 season included a rushing title for Tomlinson.
Tomlinson is one of the best all-around running backs of all-time and ranks seventh all-time with 12,925 yards.