NFL Draft History: A Report and Recap of First Round Running Backs of the Decade
Every NFL draft, hopeful teams are always trying to cash in with their top picks to land the franchise running back. For every Barry Sanders and Emmit Smith, there are 50 Curtis Enises.
This slideshow is a recap of all the first round running backs this last decade with stats and a letter grade. There will undoubtedly be disagreements, and if I knock on one of your team's picks, I am sorry, but enjoy the slideshow while you can.
Jamal Lewis- Fifth Overall Pick of the 2000 NFL Draft
Tenure: 2000-2006 Ravens, 2007-2009 Browns
The first running back taken of the 2000's was Jamal Lewis out of the University of Tennessee. In his rookie season in the NFL, he started 13 games and rushed for 1,364 yards and six rushing touchdowns. The Ravens would go on to win the Super Bowl that year, where Jamal actually become the youngest player to score a touchdown in a Super Bowl at 21 years old.
In 2003, Jamal came within striking distance of Erik Dickerson's NFL single season record for rushing but ended up short, rushing for “only” 2,066 yards in addition to 14 touchdowns. On September 14th of the '03 season, Lewis rushed for 295 yards against the Browns breaking the single game record previously held by Corey Dillon, but this record would be broken by Adrian Peterson four years later.
After the Ravens declined to franchise Lewis, he became an unrestricted free agent and would then sign with division rival Cleveland for three seasons, where he ran for 1,000+ twice.
Stats: Att- 2,542 Yards- 10,607 TD's- 58
Ron Dayne- 11th Overall Pick of the 2000 NFL Draft
Tenure: 2000-2004 Giants, 2005 Broncos, 2006-2007 Texans
After getting drafted 11th overall and being teamed up with a Giant legends, Tiki Barber, things at first looked like they would workout for the former Heisman trophy winner, but sadly things never panned out.
After getting beat down in the Super Bowl vs the Baltimore Ravens, Ron Dayne's rushing attempts began to decline big time. Dayne was overweight and wasn't producing as the Giants hoped, and even after the Giants got a new coach in Tom Coughlin, Dayne would see the field less and less and would eventually be cut.
After that, Dayne spent the rest of his career in a haze. He never truly made an impact for any of the three teams he played for.
Stats: Att- 983 Yards- 3,722 TD's- 28
Shaun Alexander- 19th Pick of the 2000 NFL Draft
Tenure: 2000-2007 Seahawks, 2008 Redskins
As a former University of Alabama player, it is safe to say that people's expectations and his own were very high, and he delivered. Shaun didn't contribute anything to the Hawks immediately, rushing for only 313 yards, but he was a backup behind Ricky Watters.
Following Watters' retirement, Shaun became the starter for the Seahawks and never looked back, rushing for over 1,000+ for the next five seasons. In 2005, Alexander broke an NFL record with 28 touchdowns (25 rushing), and that would eventually be broken by Lawrence Taylor's 31 later.
When the Seahawks and Steelers met in the Super Bowl, Shaun was the leading rusher of the game but didn't break 100 yards. He would later be rewarded with being put on the cover of Madden 2007, but the curse would fall upon him; he broke his foot and missed the last six games. After that, Alexander started to go downhill, and eventually, his career ended in Washington.
Stats: Att- 2,187 Yards- 9,453 TD's- 100
Trung Candidate- 31st Overall Pick of the 2000 NFL Draft
Tenure: 2000-2002 Rams, 2003 Redskins
Nobody really understood why the Rams decided to draft Trung with the 31st overall pick, being that they already had Marshall Faulk in the backfield. He came in undersized and was fumble prone. Trung got traded to the Redskins for the 2003 season and rushed for a solid 600 yards, but the Skins would end up trading Champ Bailey for Clinton Portis.
The rest of Trung's career would be spent on the Skins' inactive list.
Stats: Att- 240 Yards- 1,095 TD's-seven
LaDainian Tomlinson- Fifth Overall Pick of the 2001 NFL Draft
Tenure: 2001-2009: Chargers, 2009-Present: Jets
Without a doubt, a future hall of famer and top five running back of all time, you can't get a much better draft pick than this guy right here. LT has always been the pinnacle of how you should play on the field and who you should be off the field.
LT has played 10 years in the NFL so far and has only missed the 1,000 yard mark twice, and in eight years with the Chargers, he only missed one game.
In 2006, LT had arguably the single greatest season in NFL history. He ran for 1,815 yards and scored an NFL record 31 touchdowns (28 rushing) but ended up losing in the postseason to that Patriots.
All good things must come to an end, and LT's better years are behind him. He is no longer wearing a Charger uniform, but he can without a doubt wreak some serious havoc on opposing defenses whether it is coming out of the backfield, hitting the outside, or going up the middle. The Jets and their future with LT may be unclear, but no matter what happens, he is a first ballot hall of famer.
Stats: Att- 3,099 Yards- 13,404 TD's-144
Deuce McAllister- 23rd Overall Pick of the 2001 NFL Draft
After being given the reigns in 2002 as the full time starter, McAllister would end up rushing for 1,000+ four times, his best season being in 2003, where he ran for a remarkable 1,641 yards and eight touchdowns.
In 2005, Deuce suffered a major injury when he tore his ACL in his right knee and played in only five games but was already having a down season averaging only 3.6 yards a rush. The Saints would end up drafting Reggie Bush with the second overall pick, and Deuce, for the first time since he'd been named the starter, would have to share the rock with another running back.
In 2007, another serious injury fell on Deuce, again vs the Titans., where he would tear his ACL again, but this time in his left knee. His crowning achievement was on November 28, 2008, where he became the Saints all-time rushing touchdown leader. He would end up being cut in February due to salary cap reasons.
Att- 1,429 Yards-6,096 TD's- 49
Michael Bennett- 27th Overall Pick of the 2001 NFL Draft
Tenure: 2001-2005: Vikes, 2006-2007: Chiefs, Bucs: 2007-2008, Chargers: 2008-2009, Raiders: 2010- Present
Did you know that at Michael Bennett's pro day he ran a 4.13 in the 40 yard dash? Yeah me neither; surprised he didn't get drafted by the Raiders.
Anyway, Bennett would play for five seasons in Minnesota but would only amass one 1,000 yard season. A constant string of injuries would eventually derail Bennett, and he would not do anything of any importance on any other team he was on, and last season, only touched the ball twice for 11 yards rushing...but hey, that means he was averaging 5.5 yards a rush! Thats a career season high!
Stats: Att- 842 Yards- 3,707 TD's- 13
William Green- 16th Overall Pick of the 2002 NFL Draft
Tenure: 2002-2005: Browns
The only reason I am NOT giving W.G. an F rating is for the fact that him, actually making it to the NFL as a first round pick after losing both his mother and father before age 13 is a true testament to his character and determination...too bad that it could not always follow him.
Green's draft stock would fall due to his two suspensions for marijuana use. After a good rookie year, and a good start to the 2003 season with 559 yards in his first seven games, Green was showing some serious potential but would end up being arrested for marijuana possession and drunk driving. He would serve a four game suspension, but during this time, his fiance would end up stabbing him in the back... literally. And he would go on to miss the rest of the reason.
More personal problems would ensue, as would injuries, and in 2006, Green would get injured in training camp and would then be released. He attempted to make a comeback at Boston College's pro day and had a decent workout, but his horrible 4.85 40 yard dash would not help his case. He hasn't returned yet.
Stats: Att- 568 Yards- 2,109 TD's- nine
T.J. Duckett- 18th Overall Pick of the 2002 NFL Draft
Tenure: 2002-2005: Falcons, 2006: Skins, 2007: Lions, 2008: Seahawks
The height of Duckett's career would have been during his Atlanta Falcon years, where he would be paired up with Warrick Dunn and Michael Vick to lead the NFL in rushing yards for multiple seasons.
In 2006, T.J. would be traded to the Redskins as part of a three team deal with the Broncos, but in his first season as a Skin, with 10 appearances in games, he only rushed for 132 yards (3.5 avg.) and two touchdowns. He would then be released by the Redskins, then signed by the Lions, released, then at last the Seahawks and released again.
Stats: Att- 717 Yards- 2,814 TD's- 44
Willis McGahee- 23rd Overall Pick of the 2003 NFL Draft
Tenure: 2003-2006: Bills, 2007-?: Ravens
Once considered to be a lock for a top five pick, a major knee injury dropped Willis' stock down to the 23rd pick and to the Ravens. Willis would debut as the starting halfback in 2004, arguably his best year (1,128 yards and 13 touchdowns rushing) and would go on to rush for 1,000+ in half of his seasons as a Buffalo Bill.
Willis would eventually be traded to Baltimore in 2007, where he currently resides, but for how long remains to be seen. After rushing for over 1,000 yards in his first season as a Raven, his carries and yards would end up diminishing due to both injury and the breakout star Ray Rice. It is uncertain whether or not Willis will be brought back for a fifth season as a Raven.
Stats: Att-1,541 Yards- 6,167 TD's- 55
Larry Johnson- 27th Overall Pick of the 2003 NFL Draft
Tenure: 2003-2009: KC, 2009: Bengals, 2010: Redskins
From the start of Larry Johnson's NFL career, people had questioned his maturity and character, and it all started in 2004 with Dick Vermeil when he was coach of the KC Chiefs. Vermeil went down saying that it was time for LJ to “take the diapers off” and grow up. Emotions were riding high, but with injuries to Priest Holmes and backup Derrick Baylock, Vermeil would end up putting LJ into the lineup, and he would not disappoint.
In the first three games of his career, he ran for over 150 yards, being the first player to do so. Next season, backup Derrick Baylock would suffer a season ending neck injury and LJ would be put back into the starting lineup. He sure did produce, appearing in all 16 games, starting nine, and rushing for 1,750 yards and 20 touchdowns.
On November 20of the 2005 season, Johnson ran for a Chiefs record 211 yards rushing and two touchdowns. By the end of the 2005 season, Johnson had asserted himself to the top of the leagues running backs, with nine consecutive games (every start of that season) of 100+ yards rushing and also averaged over 10 yards a catch.
In 2006, LJ became the full time starter for KC and ran for 1,789 yards and 17 touchdowns. Johnson also set a single season record with 417 attempts. During that time, LJ was sustaining big hits, and many wondered how much longer he could hold up getting that many carries.
After a holdout in the 2007 training camp over a contract dispute, he would be rewarded with a five year extension worth $45 million ($19 million guaranteed). In week 9, LJ injured his foot and was put on IR.
As the 2008 season started, LJ looked like he would break 1,000 yards but missed four games. He would be suspended by the team, benched, and suspended by Rodger Goodell. Johnson kept the starting job in 2009, but his stats were horrendous. However, part of that blame goes to the overall lack of talent and help around him.
LJ would finish his career with Kansas City, averaging 2.9 yards a rush, and would later be traded to the Bengals where nothing really happened. In 2010, LJ signed with the Redskins and gained only two yards off five attempts.
It looks as if his career is over, but when you think of Larry Johnson, you can't help but think about the '05 and '06 seasons.
Att- 1,426 Yards- 6,221 TD's- 55
Steven Jackson- 24th Overall Pick of the 2004 NFL Draft
Tenure: 2004-present Rams
Sitting behind one of the greatest running backs of all time in Marshall Faulk for his rookie season must have done him some serious good and this was actually the only season in which Action-Jackson didn't run for over 1,000 yards (673). Steven Jackson would be given the starting job and despite some injuries and playing for the RAMS, Jackson has posted up 6 consecutive 1,000 yard rushing seasons, and has proven that he is a true threat out of the backfield as a receiver. On October 24th, 2010, Steven Jackson would surpass both Erik Dickerson and Marshall Faulk and take the title of Rams all time leading rusher, and about a month later he would surpass 10,000 career yards from scrimmage. Normally when you look to St. Louis there aren't very many bright spots in the past 6 years, but Steven Jackson is a super nova and looks to come back strong next season as the Rams attempt to make that final push to the playoffs.
Stats: Att-1,878 Yards-7,948 TD's-47
Chris Perry- 26th Overall of the 2004 NFL Draft
Tenure: 2004-2008 Bengals
Not much to say about this guy. Injuries plagued him throughout his career and he played for the Bengals, two horrible things. Perry would be released due to both his poor performance and injuries. The one positive that you can say for Chris Perry is that he was one only Bengals that hasn't been arrested yet. So playing for the Bengals, and NOT being a criminal, is an achievement in itself. Perry currently plays for the Florida Tuskers in the UFL.
Stats: Att- 177 Yards-606 TD's- 2
Kevin Jones- 30th Overall Pick of the 2004 NFL Draft
Tenure: 2004-2007 Lions, 2008-2009 Bears,
Jones' rookie season would be his best. He would be one of the only 3 players in Lions history to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season. The next few seasons K. Jones would contribute a little bit, never rushing for under 500 yards or 5 touchdowns as a Lion but when he was shipped to Chicago he ran for only 109 yards and no touchdowns. Jones is now a member of the Hartford Cardinals of the UFL.
Stats: Att- 795 Yards-3,176 TD's-24
Ronnie Brown- 2nd Overall Pick of the 2005 NFL Draft
Tenure: 2005- Present
Part of Auburn's dominating backfield when paired up with Cadillac Williams. After a slow start to the 2005 season, Ronnie got on track and ran for 907 yards his rookie campaign. In 2006, Ronnie Brown became the feature back with Ricky Williams being suspended for the entire season and rushed for his first and only 1,000 yard season. The next season Ronnie would injury his right knee when making a tackle during an interception return vs the Patriots, and would be lost for the season. Ronnie Browns next few seasons would not be great, but would be good, and in 2008, Ronnie Brown and the Dolphins would come back from 1-15, and go 11-5 partially due to the resurgence of the wildcat. In week 3, the Fins dominated the Patriots and Ronnie would rush for over 100 yards, 4 touchdowns and throw or 1 more but the Fins would end up losing in the playoffs. In week 11 of the 2009 season, Brown would injure his foot and would be put on IR. Last season would be a disappointment for both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, neither one of them would rush for over 100 yards in any game and Brown would average a career worst 3.7 yards a rush.
Stats: Att-1,128 Yards-4,815 TD's-36
Cedric Benson- 4th Overall Pick of the 2005 NFL Draft
Tenure: 2005-2007 Bears, 2008-Present Bengals
After a waste of a rookie season, Cedric would go on to improve during his sophomore season and rush for over 600 yards and 6 touchdowns, despite not starting a single game and would continue to get better. Cedric's last season in Chicago would end with him at odds with the coach and the owner. After finishing 30th in the league rushing, Bears owner Jerry Angelo expressed interest in getting a new halfback to revive the Bears awful rushing attack, and Cedric felt he was getting unfair blame. On June 9th, 2008 he would end up being released by the Bears after being arrested twice in the past 5 weeks, due to alcohol related arrests. Cedric would end up being signed by the Bengals and would start 10 games en route to a 700+ yard rushing season despite only averaging 3.5 yards a rush. 2009 would be Benson's best year where he rushed for over 1,200 yards and scored 6 rushing touchdowns averaging 4.2 yards a rush. Cedric has played 3 seasons in a Bengals uniform and 2 of those seasons he has averaged only 3.5 yards a rush, but the biggest problems that come with Cedric Benson don't occur on the field, but rather everywhere else. Cedric has had several run ins with the law, many alcohol related, and was actually ordered by a county judge to have a built-in breathalyzer in his car and also had to attend counseling. After having a miserable 2010 season, the Bengals look to rebound but in this coming draft don't be surprised if the Bengals attempt to draft a replacement.
Stats: Att-1,256 Yards- 4,702 TD's- 25
Carnell Williams- 5th Overall Pick of the 2005 NFL Draft
Tenure 2005-Present Buccaneers
This one hurts and trust me I absolutely hate giving Cadillac this grade, but I simply can't give him a higher grade honestly. This guy had potential to be a complete superstar running back but injuries held him back. Any lack of production or meager stats aren't due to his inability to produce, but due to the injuries that have been nagging him throughout the last 4 years of his career. His first year was his best, and he rushed for 1,178 yards and 6 rushing touchdowns with a 4.1 yards per rush average (All career bests) and was named Diet Pepsi Rookie of the Year. The next season was kind of a down year, Cadillac didn't rush for over 1,000 yards due to the lack of help from his offensive line and an injury that slowed him. In 2007 Cadillac only played in 4 games, and tore his patellar tendon in his right knee vs the Carolina Panthers after an awkward hit at the end of a big run. During this time, many doctors were skeptical whether or not Williams would ever be able to play again but he did. After over a year had passed, Cadillac scored his first touchdown vs the Saints, but the celebration would be short lived, when about a month later, only 3 days after Christmas, Williams tore his patellar tendon in left knee in the season finale vs the Raiders. In 2009 things were looking up and Cadillac scored his first receiving touchdown and on December 27th he had his first 100 yard rushing game in the past 2 seasons, and came in 2nd for the AP Comeback Player of the Year Award, behind Tom Brady. In 2010 Cadillac would see his role be reduced primarily to 3rd downs with the breakout success of the former Oregon Duck, LeGarrette Blount and that won't change. Williams' career appears to be heading towards a rather monotonous pace as a running back coming in on short yardage situations, and it is a shame that such a great player's once promising career has been marred and inevitably shortened by injury. Well Tampa, its time to park the Cadillac... and fire up the Blount.
Stats: Att-968 Yards- 3,677 TD's-20
Reggie Bush- 2nd Overall Pick of the 2006 NFL Draft
Tenure: 2006- Present, Saints
Out of all the talent that Reggie Bush has and all of the freakishly athletic things that he can do, he will always be stained by the fact he has had his Heisman trophy revoked. I honestly don't think that he should have had it taken away, but that is a different discussion for a different day. When the Texans picked Mario Williams over Reggie Bush for the 1st overall pick, Saint fans were ecstatic, and Texan fans were pissed. By the end of the week of the 2006 NFL Draft, Reebok received over 15,000 orders for Reggie Bush jerseys even though nobody knew what his number would be, and Reggie would actually second to only Peyton Manning in endorsement deals, and he reps Pepsi, Adidas, Subway, and other name brands. I think that Reggie Bush was probably one of the biggest helpers for the revival of New Orleans, whether it was through donating money or just instilling hope in the people. Reggie was expected to become a superstar running back but sadly it hasn't panned out at all, and it seems that Reggie is actually a better receiver and punt returner than an actual running back. In 3 of his 5 seasons wearing the black and gold, Reggie has stacked up more receiving yards than rushing yards, and in his first 3 seasons (and career wise) and he averaged 3.8 yards a rush or lower. Problems and criticisms of Reggie Bush is that he still tries to play this game as if he were still at USC. He always seems to try and cut it to the outside and go for the big play as opposed to just ducking his head down and getting the 4 yard gain instead of trying (and failing) to get the 60 yard gain. Also, durability is an issue and during his 5 seasons he has had a partially torn posterior cruciate ligament, a major MCL sprain, torn meniscus, and a broken fibula. The sky is the limit for Reggie Bush but rumors and speculation have been surfacing about his future with the Saints. One thing to note with Reggie is his absolute playmaker/explosive ability. No other running back, since he has come into the league, has had more receptions and tied an NFL record for fastest time to get his 200th catch, doing it in 34 games. If Reggie wants to actually succeed and become that allstar running back that everyone believed he would be, he needs to learn to take the yards he can, run between the tackles, stay healthy, and remember this is the NFL and he is on the Saints, not the Trojans.
Stats: Att- 524 Yards- 2,090 TD's-17 Rec-294 Yards-2,142 TD's-12
Laurence Maroney- 21st Overall Pick of the 2006 NFL Draft
Tenure: 2006-2010 Pats, 2010 Broncos
With Corey Dillon getting up in age, and down in production the Patriot franchise needed a bruising running back. Maroney placed 2nd in rookie rushing yards in his first year (745) and scored 6 touchdowns even though he didn't start a single game. During the Patriots 2007 season, a season in which EVERY New England Patriots' production doubled or tripled, Maroney hit a career high 835 yards rushing and repeated with 6 touchdown but missed 3 games due to a groin injury. In 2008, Maroney would injure his shoulder and would be put on IR. His return season in 2009 would be his best when it came to touchdowns (9) and his 2nd best in rushing (757). In 2010, Maroney was put on the Patriots inactive list, and would later be traded to the Denver Broncos, he would play in 4 games but only get 36 yards on the ground and he would later be arrested on January 18th, 2011 on weapon charges in St. Louis and on March 2nd wouldn't be resigned.
Stats: Att- 618 Yards-2,504 TD's-21
DeAngelo Williams- 27th Overall Pick of the 2006 NFL Draft
Tenure: 2006- Present, Panthers
Originally thought to be a top 10 pick, DeAngelo dropped all the way to the 27th pick. The first 2 seasons of DeAngelo's career, he backed up Carolina running back DeShaun Foster, rushing for 501 and 717 yards respectively (4.1 and 5.0 yards per rush respectively). In 2008 DeAngelo shared the rock with Johnathon Stewart but still had a remarkable year, rushing for over 1,500 yards and scoring 18 rushing touchdowns. The following season, he had another great year passing the 1,000 yard mark, becoming the first Panther to ever rush for back to back 1,000 yard seasons, and was elected to the Pro Bowl and became the first Panther to ever score a touchdown in that game. The 2010 was Williams' worst year and missed 10 games when he was placed on IR due to a right foot injury. Rumors have been circulating that Williams could be traded, possibly as draft day bait, but I honetly think that is a horrible idea. Williams is in his prime and trading him now would be a major setback to the Carolina franchise.
Stats: Att- 841 Yards-4,211 TD's-31
Joesph Addai- 30th Overall Pick of the 2006 NFL Draft
Tenure: 2006-Present, Colts
With the Colts, in dire need of some play maker in their backfield, selected the former LSU running back with the 30th pick and Joesph hit the ground running. In 2006 Joesph Addai led all rookie running backs with 1,081 yards rushing and 7 touchdowns, tied an NFL record in week 14 vs the Eagles, for most rushing touchdowns in a single game (4), and was the key player in the Colts AFC Championship game where he scored the game winning touchdown with a minute left. The Colts would go on to beat the Bears in the Super Bowl and Joesph would gain 143 yards total and would catch 10 passes, setting a record for most catches by a running back in a Super Bowl and only 1 catch short of the record held by Super Bowl XXXIX's MVP, Deion Branch. Joesph Addai's next few seasons wouldn't be remarkable by any means. Joesph Addai and the Colts rushing attack have played horrendously and for the past 3 seasons have finished in the bottom 3 in rushing yards per game (2008- 31st 79.6 RYPG, 2009- 32nd 80.9 RYPG, 2010- 29th 92.7 RYPG) and the highest the rushing attack has ever been ranked was 18th. Joesph would go on to injure both his shoulder and his neck in 2010 and would miss 8 games. Addai has been paired up with former Uconn running back Donald Brown to bring some serious game in the backfield, but so far it has failed. Look for the Colts to improve their rushing attack this season, and they probably will, because you can't get much worse.
Stats: Att- 977 Yards- 4,020 TD's-38
Adrian Peterson- 7th Overall Pick of the 2007 NFL Draft
Tenure: 2007- Present, Vikings
Adrian Peterson, since being drafted, has taken the NFL by storm rushing for over 1,000 yards and 10 or more touchdowns in all 4 of his seasons. In only his 8th game as a Viking, Peterson set an NFL record running for 296 yards in a single game vs the San Diego Chargers. All-Day would end up winning Rookie of the Year and MVP of the Pro Bowl in 2007 and averaged a remarkable 5.6 yards per rush. The next few seasons Adrian Peterson would dominate even more running for over 1,700 yards in 2008 and scoring 18 rushing touchdowns in 2009. 2010 was a bit of a down year for Adrian Peterson but when your “down” year is a year where you are only 2 yards short of 1,300 and score 12 rushing touchdowns, you are ahead of the game. When Adrian Peterson was drafted, I am pretty sure everyone knew he would be a superstar and I went on record to say he would be a future Hall of Famer, and I still believe that. Two things concern me though about Adrian Peterson. Number one, his ball carrying. In 2010 Peterson improved massively, only putting the ball on the ground once all season, but in the 3 seasons before that, he fumbled 20 times and lost 13 of them. He just needs to keep it up. The second and most worrisome thing about Adrian Peterson is his violent nature when he has the ball. Peterson seeks out contact and will try to level someone if it means an extra yard. While it is good that Peterson will go all out every time he touches the ball that will lead to more punishment and he will start taking more hits to his knees as time goes on. If the NFL expands to 18 games, I am concerned that Adrian could tear a muscle in his knee or something worse. If he takes less hits and sometimes just learns to step out of bounds I could see him playing for 10 more years and possibly hitting the 1,000 yard mark in every single one.
Stats: Att-1,198 Yards-5,782 TD's- 52
Marshawn Lynch- 12th Overall Pick of the 2007 NFL Draft
Tenure: 2007-2010 Bills, 2010-Present, SeahawksMarshawn spent 4 years up in Buffalo and the last 2 were a waste. After rushing for over 1,000 yards in his first two seasons, his rushing yards dropped off to 450 for 2009, and 164 in 2010 before he was traded to the Seattle Seahawks. Marshawn my be a problematic player both on the field and off the field, but he owns possibly the greatest run in NFL history when the Seahawks played the Saints in the playoffs. Lynch singlehandedly embarrassed the entire Saint defense, the team, and the city as he killed their hopes of a repeat championship when he broke 8 tackles, stiff armed Saint Super Bowl Hero, Tracy Porter to the ground, and sprinted 67 yards for the gamewinning touchdown capping one of the biggest upsets in NFL history. Looking into the 2011 season Lynch looks like he will be the starter, and if only he could put half as much effort into any play as he did vs the Saints, he could be a great running back.
Stats: Att- 852 Yards- 3,338 TD's- 23
*And just in case you haven't grown tired yet of seeing the play, here it is again...*
Darren McFadden- 4th Overall Pick of the 2008 NFL Draft
Tenure: 2008- Present, Raiders
Due to nagging injuries in both his rookie and sophomore season McFadden was unable to showcase his talent that made him a play maker at Arkansas. 2010 was the first season that McFadden was able to play in 13 games but missed 3 games due to a hamstring injury. In 2011 McFadden will end up being the starter and if the Raiders can get some help from the quarterback then he could flourish. So far Darren has been a disappointment, but a few things have lead to this. Horrible coaching, horrible offensive line, just offense in general and of course... playing for the Raiders. Oakland should succeed this coming season, but then again that's what people keep saying every single season. If McFadden can stay healthy, look for him to set highs in rushing attempts, yards and touchdowns.
Stats: Att-440 Yards-2,013 TD's-12
Jonathan Stewart- 13th Overall Pick of the 2008 NFL Draft
Tenure: 2008- Present, Panthers
Brought in to assist DeAngelo Williams with carrying the ball, Stewart began to show real flashes of brilliance, and in 2009, despite only starting 3 games, Stewart actually gained more yards (1,133), scored more touchdowns (10) than DeAngelo Williams (1,117 yards and 7 touchdowns). 2 of the last 3 seasons the Carolina Panthers have finished 3rd in rushing for the exception of last year of course. In 2010 nobody on the Panthers succeeded really for the exception of DE Charles Johnson. No quarterback, no receivers and injuries to both Stewart and Williams derailed the entire season. I think that the Panthers will finish below .500 obviously, but I expect their rushing attack to be in the top 5. Could Stewart become the full time starter? Will DeAngelo get traded? I don't know, and I hope not, because both of these players could be a formidable duo for many years to come.
Stats: Att- 583 Yards- 2,739 TD's-22
Felix Jones- 22nd Overall Pick of the 2008 NFL Draft
Tenure: 2008- Present, Cowboys
Felix's first touch of the football resulted in an 11 yard rushing touchdown. He would appear in 6 games and score 3 touchdowns, averaging 8.9 yards a rush, but only 266 yards, before he would end up injuring his hamstring and it was said that it was a torn ligament. The second season for the Cowboys was pretty decent considering he was part of the 3 back system with Marion Barber and Tashard Choice. 2010 was a down year for all the Cowboys except Felix who rushed for an even 800 yards but only hit the endzone with one rushing touchdown. With Marion Barber having his worst season in 2010 it could be possible that he ends up getting traded to another team. While Felix is a decent running back, I don't think he could ever be a true number 1 running back. He is too much of a scat back and getting constantly hit over and over again could cause him to end his career early. He needs to be part of a 2 back system.
Stats: Att- 331 Yards-1,751 TD's- 7
Knowshon Moreno- 12th Overall Pick of the 2009 NFL Draft
Tenure: 2009-Present, Broncos
The Broncos are obviously hoping that the former Bulldog can turn into the next Terrell Davis for the franchise. Knowshon appeared in all 16 games his rookie season and rushed for 947 yards and 7 touchdowns. He suffered a bit of a sophomore slump starting 13 games but rushing for almost 200 yards less, 2 less touchdowns, and missing 3 games due to injury. The Broncos were the 3rd worst rushing attack in the AFC, ranking 26th overall. With Tim Tebow under center, Knowshon standing in the backfield and Demaryius Thomas split out wide, Denver could have another dominating trio (a La, Elway, Davis, Smith). Expect next season to be Knowshon's best.
Stats: Att- 429 Yards- 1,726 TD's- 12
Donald Brown- 27th Overall Pick of the 2009 NFL Draft
Tenure: 2009-Present, Colts
With two seasons under his belt Donald Brown has contributed little to nothing, to the Indianapolis franchise. In the two seasons he and Joesph Addai have been paired up, the Colts have been ranked 32nd and 29th in rushing. The “highlight” of Donald's career so far was vs the Baltimore Ravens in which he messed up a play and as people at home were watching you can hear Peyton yelling “God dammit Donald!”
Stats: Att- 207 Yards- 788 TD's- 5
Beanie Wells- 31st Overall Pick of the 2008 NFL Draft
Tenure: 2008- Present, CardinalsThe former Ohio State prodigy would be drafted to the desert in 2008 and played in all 16 games despite not starting one. He would average 4.5 yards a rush, 793 yards rushing and 7 touchdowns, second most by a rookie running back behind Denver running back Knowshon Moreno. Beanie's second season was not nearly as good as his second season. He played in 3 less games and ran for nearly 400 yards less and didn't have a single 100 yard rushing game. Tim Hightower stepped up and became the starter for the Cards and Beanie took the backseat, and wasn't able to shine as the Cardinals ranked 32nd in the league in rushing. Maybe this coming season will be different.
Stats: Att- 292 Yards- 1,190 TD's-9
C.J. Spiller- 9th Overall Pick of the 2009 NFL Draft
Tenure: 2009-Present, Bills
After having a great preseason, C.J. Spiller contributed nothing to the Buffalo Bills and ran for less than 300 yards and scored only twice (Receiving and kick return). Suggestions for the future, get a better offensive line and give this man the ball more because I truly think he could succeed, even though he does play for the Bills.
Stats: Att-74 Yards-283 TD's- 0
Ryan Matthews- 12th Overall Pick of the 2009 NFL Draft
Tenure: 2009- Present, Chargers
Taking over for one of the greatest running backs of all time in LT is one of the hardest tasks you could possibly ever have, but Ryan Matthews did quite a good job for his rookie season, playing in 12 games and starting 9. Due to the emergence of Mike Tolbert, and a nagging ankle injury, Matthews didn't get to run as much as he would like, but this so far looks like great potential running back that San Diego has suiting up every Sunday. Look for him to explode this up coming season.
Stats: Att- 158 Yards- 678 TD's- 7
Jahvid Best- 30th Overall Pick of the 2009 NFL Draft
Tenure: 2010- Present, Lions
Playing for Detroit is some serious hard business, but they started taking some serious strides last season after drafting and signing some serious talent. Jahvid Best out of Cal University was picked by the Lions after they traded up from the Vikings. In his first 2 games, Jahvid scored 5 touchdowns (4 rushing, 1 receiving) and would only score once more with a receiving touchdown in week 16. Jahvid seems to remind me of Reggie Bush in the sense that they are both great receivers out of the backfield. Best never rushed for over 100 yards in any of his games, had an abysmal average (3.2 yards per rush) and in 11 of his games, he didn't even surpass 50 yards rushing. His season high was in week 2, with 78 yards. I think the Lions, and I am completely serious, could be a contender and with the young starters of Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson could resurrect the Detroit franchise.
Stats: Att- 171 Yards- 555 TD's- 4 Rec- 58 Yards- 487 TD's- 2