Designing The Perfect Running Back

Jeremy KaufmanSenior Analyst IAugust 23, 2008

So, if you had the opportunity to build a prototype running back by combining the greatest attributes of the best running backs in the NFL, whose skills would you use? Here are my picks:


1)     Speed: Chris Johnson

Tennessee’s 1st round draft pick, Chris Johnson was blessed with sound- barrier breaking speed. He recorded a 4.24 40- yard time at the scouting combine, and his playing speed is certainly representative of that number.

2)     Agility: Reggie Bush

Reggie Bush is one of the few running backs in the NFL today who is a threat to score every time he touches the football. His incredible agility allows him to juke past multiple defenders, thereby allowing him to reach the open space and take the ball all the way to the end zone.

3)     Vision: LaDainian Tomlinson

LaDainian Tomlinson may be a physical specimen, but it is his vision that has made him the best running back in the NFL for multiple years. Tomlinson patiently approaches the line of scrimmage, finds the open space, and then explodes through the helpless defense. His athleticism may make him good, but it’s his vision that makes him great.

4)     Receiving: Brian Westbrook

Brian Westbrook is one of the few running backs in the NFL that could likely become a Pro Bowl receiver if they for some reason were asked to make such a position switch. Brian can make big time catches out of the backfield, or even out of the slot as a normal receiver.

5)     Run Power: Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson runs with the kind of power that is reminiscent of Bo Jackson in his prime. Adrian combines a 4.3 40- yard dash speed with absolute power, allowing him to trample over any defender that attempts to get in his way.

6)     Pass Protection: Clinton Portis

Simply stated, there is no better pass protector in the NFL at the running back position than Clinton Portis. Clinton absolutely loves to do the dirty work for his team, and is frequently seen laying out blitzing linebackers who attempt to get to his quarterback. I need this ability assimilated into my prototype running back.

7)     Body: Brandon Jacobs

At 6’4 and 264 pounds, Brandon has the body type that football fans could only imagine a running back to have in their wildest of dreams. Despite being shaped like a defensive end, Brandon’s frame allows him to bull- doze over defenders while still allowing him to maximize his speed. Brandon’s frame would be absolutely ideal for my prototype running back.