ESPN: Derrick Henry, Kamara Lead Top 10 NFL RBs Ranked by Execs, Players, Coaches

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 13, 2021

FILE - In this Dec. 20, 2020, file photo, Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) carries ball against the Detroit Lions during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game in Nashville, Tenn. Henry as named The Associated Press Offensive Player of the Year on Saturday, Feb. 6, at the NFL Honors. (AP Photo/Brett Carlsen, File)
AP Photo/Brett Carlsen, File

The Tennessee Titans' Derrick Henry was voted the NFL's best running back in a survey of the league's executives, coaches, scouts and players.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler revealed the results after asking more than 50 people from around the NFL about the top players at each position. Here's a look at the top 10 rushers:

  • 1. Derrick Henry (Titans)
  • 2. Alvin Kamara (New Orleans Saints)
  • 3. Dalvin Cook (Minnesota Vikings)
  • 4. Nick Chubb (Cleveland Browns)
  • 5. Christian McCaffrey (Carolina Panthers)
  • 6. Saquon Barkley (New York Giants)
  • 7. Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas Cowboys)
  • 8. Aaron Jones (Green Bay Packers)
  • 9. Joe Mixon (Cincinnati Bengals)
  • 10. Josh Jacobs (Las Vegas Raiders)

Henry was the obvious choice for the top spot after he rushed for 2,027 yards last season, which is the fifth-highest total in league history. With a 17th game added for 2021, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him make a serious run toward Eric Dickerson's record of 2,105.

The next highest on the 2020 rushing chart was Cook (1,557 yards) and then the Indianapolis Colts' Jonathan Taylor (1,169), which means Henry ran for 858 yards more than the No. 3 rusher. While it's become a pass-heavy league, the Titans stalwart continues to dominate games on the ground.

"He wears your ass out. He's a train," an NFC scout told Fowler.

Kamara earned the No. 2 spot from the voters after leading all NFL players with 21 touchdowns from scrimmage (16 rushing and five receiving) last season while racking up 1,688 total yards.

"If I was building a team, he would be my running back," a high-ranking executive told Fowler. "He's the perfect modern back."

Meanwhile, Barkley (No. 1 in 2020) and McCaffrey (No. 2) both dropped into the middle of the voters' top 10 after injuries severely limited their output last year.

The Giants star suffered a torn ACL in Week 2, while the Panthers standout was limited to three appearances because of ankle and shoulder injuries.

"If you value durability as far as criteria, then I'm not sure he's going to hold up," an offensive coach told Fowler about McCaffrey. "Love the player, but at that size (5'11", 205 lbs) with the injuries, I'm just not sure."

In all, this year's list features nine of the same 10 running backs from the 2020 group. Jones was the only addition, while free agent Le'Veon Bell dropped out of the rankings.

An AFC scout predicted Taylor, who was listed as an honorable mention, will break into the rankings next year.

"He'll be a top-five back by the end of the season," the scout told ESPN. "Watch him in the second half of last year. He's coming."

The Browns' Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs' Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Philadelphia Eagles' Miles Sanders were also honorable mentions.