NFL: Ranking the 10 Best Running Backs
Yesterday I came out with the 10 best quarterbacks in the league. Today it's the 10 best running backs.
This list ranks the best running backs is the game today. Most of them are young backs with great speed. Because of the constant wear and tear on their bodies it's hard for a running back to produce after the age of 30.
The NFL has turned into a passing league lately, but that doesn't mean there aren't any good running backs. Running is how the league started, and it will always be a vital part of the game.
So here's my list of the 10 best running backs in the NFL. Check my page tomorrow for the 10 best wide receivers.
10. Frank Gore
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Frank Gore is going into his seventh NFL season, and at 28 years old he's one of the veterans of this list.
He's been one of the few bright spots on a lousy 49ers team his whole career. In 2006, his second season and first as a starter, he rushed for 1,695 yards and had 2,180 yards from scrimmage on his way to the Pro Bowl. Over each of the next three seasons he would rush for over 1,000 yards and make one more Pro Bowl.
Last season Gore only started 11 games due to injury. He still rushed for 853 yards and caught another 452 yards. He had 1,305 yards from scrimmage and averaged 118 yards per game.
9. Darren McFadden
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Darren McFadden was the first running back taken in the 2008 draft, but has taken a backseat to others picked after him (2008 was a great RB draft class: Chris Johnson, Jamaal Charles, Ray Rice, Rashard Mendenhall, Jonathan Stewart, Matt Forte, and Peyton Hillis).
Last season was his first as the regular starter for the Raiders. He started 13 games and rushed for 1,157 yards on 5.2 yards per attempt. He also caught another 507 yards and had a total of 10 touchdowns.
McFadden's 128 yards from scrimmage per game was second in the NFL last season.
8. Ray Rice
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Ray Rice is one of the smallest backs on this list at 5'9", 195 pounds, but what he lacks in size he gains in talent.
2009 was his second year in the league and his first as a full time starter. He rushed for 1,339 yards and seven touchdowns on 5.3 yards per carry. He also added 702 receiving yards to give him a total of 2,041 yards from scrimmage and was voted to the Pro Bowl.
Last year Rice rushed for 1,220 yards and caught another 556 yards with a total of six touchdowns.
7. Michael Turner
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Michael Turner was Ladainian Tomlinson's backup in San Diego for four years, but since joining the Falcons in 2008 he's proved to be a great everyday starter.
In his first season with his new team he rushed for 1,699 yards and 17 touchdowns, which were both good for second in the league. He made the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career and was named a first team All-Pro running back. In 2009 he missed five games due to injury, but still rushed for 871 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Last season he led the league in carries and rushed for an NFC best 1,371 yards and 12 touchdowns. He made the Pro Bowl for the second time in his career and was named a starter.
6. Steven Jackson
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Steven Jackson just might be the strongest and most powerful running back in the game. I mean just look at the guy's arms, or thighs (not that you want to look at a guy's thighs). They're huge.
His biceps and thighs aren't the only thing huge about Jackson. He puts up big numbers every year. Since his first season as a starter in 2005 he has rushed for at least 1,000 yards every year. His best season came in 2006 in which he rushed for 1,528 yards, 13 touchdowns, and had a league-leading 2,334 yards from scrimmage.
Last season Jackson rushed for 1,241 yards and six touchdowns, on his way to his third Pro Bowl.
5. Arian Foster
Bob Levey/Getty Images
Arian Foster was the breakout player of last season.
It was his second season as a pro and his first as a starter. He led the league in rushing yards (1,616), rushing touchdowns (16), rushing yards per game (101.0), and yards from scrimmage (2,220). He was named to the Pro Bowl and was selected as a first team All-Pro running back.
Some people may think he should be higher, but five is the highest I can put him after only one good year to show. Although if he has another year like the last he could move up this list.
4. Maurice Jones-Drew
Scott Boehm/Getty Images
MJD looks nothing like the typical NFL running back; he's 5'7" and 208 pounds. Pound for pound and inch for inch, he might be the most powerful back in the NFL today.
After three very successful seasons as Fred Taylor's backup, Jones-Drew became the Jaguars' starting running back in 2009. He rushed for 1,391 yards and 15 touchdowns on his way to his first Pro Bowl appearance.
Last season he rushed for 1,324 yards in 14 games and was second in the league with 94.6 yards per game.
Maurice Jones-Drew shows that speed and strength can come in small packages.
3. Jamaal Charles
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Some people might think number three is a little high for Charles, but I think it's just right.
2009 was his second season in the league and his first as a starter. He started 10 games for the Chiefs and had 1,120 rushing yards. His 5.9 yards per carry was the league's best.
Last season he finished second in rushing behind Arian Foster with 1,467 yards. He again led the league in yards per carry at an incredible 6.4, which was 1.2 yards ahead of the next best back (minimum 200 attempts). He made the Pro Bowl for the first time in his short career and was named a first team All-Pro running back.
In three seasons (two as a starter) Charles has 2,944 rushing yards, 1,037 receiving yards, and averages over six yards per carry.
2. Chris Johnson
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
This list is a two horse race for the top spot, and Johnson came in at a very close number two.
Johnson is the fastest running back in the game today, and perhaps all-time.
Last season he rushed for 1,364 yards and 11 touchdowns, but it's his 2009 season that was iconic. He became the sixth player to rush for over 2,000 yards (2,006), and he added 503 receiving yards to give him an NFL record 2,509 yards from scrimmage. That season, to show his blazing speed, he had three rushes of over 80 yards. No player has had more then three in an entire career.
CJ has made the Pro Bowl all three years of his career and in 2009 he was named a first team All-Pro running back.
1. Adrian Peterson
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Adrian Peterson is the most complete and dynamic back in the NFL.
He is a big powerful back at 6'2", 217 pounds, but he also has 4.40 40 speed. He can run you over, run by you, or juke you out.
Peterson has played four seasons in the league, making the Pro Bowl all four and twice named a first team All-Pro running back (2008 & 2009). He was the NFL offensive rookie of the year in 2007 and set the single game rushing record (296). His second season he led the league with 1,760 rushing yards and had 10 touchdowns. In 2009 he led the league with 18 rushing touchdowns and had 1,383 yards. Last season Peterson rushed for 1,298 yards and had two touchdowns in 15 games.
For his career he has 5,782 yards and 52 rushing touchdowns. His average of 94.8 yards per game is third all-time behind Jim Brown and Barry Sanders (minimum 50 games).