Top Running Backs In The NFL Today
When looking for a running back in the NFL, their number one quality has to be “playmaking.” There really is no stat more important. Now obviously, they have to be fast, good blockers, hard runners, decent pass receivers and the ability to break tackles is nice.
However, if there were a slow, soft, bad-handed running back that could make 2 or 3 40+ yard plays per game, I’d sign him in a second.
1. LaDainian Tomlinson – Even behind an offensive line that seemed to have either regressed this season or suffered the ill effects of QB Philip Rivers’ regression, LT still managed to lead the league in rushing for the second year in a row in 2007. (Finally, the fantasy football Gods got this right!)
LT is about explosive as it gets when it comes to making plays. He can turn a screen pass into a 75-yard touchdown, or a 4th amp; Goal into a sure touchdown. His record-breaking 31 touchdowns are a testament to his nose for the end zone, which he finds often due to his ability to accelerate in and out of the hole, especially with his “Barry Sanders-esque” jump-cut move.
He has had over 1,200 rushing yards every year he has been in the league, and he still has at least another 3 years before all those carries catch up with him. So enjoy the show, because LT is the best running back in the game.
2. Brian Westbrook – Westbrook just continues to get better and better, and while I know some of you will be surprised that I have him as the number two running back in the league, it is not a surprise to the people in the NFL, I’m sure.
He is coming off his second-consecutive 1,200+ rushing yard season, as well as another 10+ touchdowns. He has been one of the most consistent producers in the NFL, as evidenced by his 13 games (out of 15 played) in which he had 100+ yards from scrimmage.
And in the other two games, he was over 80 both times. Brian is the most versatile back in the league, even more so than LT. He can’t just play receiver, he is a receiver. He can line up and run all of the routes, not just come out of the backfield, and he is a legitimate threat when matched up against safeties and corners, which is something you can’t say about any starting running back in the NFL.
3. Willie Parker – He went down at the end of the season, and that might have been the difference between Pittsburgh advancing in the playoffs and them going home in the first round.
He was the league leading rusher before he went down, and the Steelers rushing game was void ever since, thereby demonstrating his value to the team. Willie is a great speed back with incredible vision.
However, he is much tougher than his size would indicate and he continues to become more and more of an every down back, as he has developed a nose for getting tough yards on third down and for punching it in the end zone. Assuming Parker’s injury doesn’t affect him going into next season, expect him to have another stellar year in the NFL.
4. Stephen Jackson – Obviously, Stephen did not have the year we thought he might due to a ton of injuries, but he is still one of the best backs in football as we stand today. He reminds me of the old Ricky Williams with his great size and tremendous speed.
He is a threat to run it both on the perimeter and in between the tackles, which makes game planning for him almost impossible. In addition, just like the old Ricky, he demonstrates great tenacity when breaking tackles and avoiding defenders.
5. Adrian Peterson – Many of you think he should go higher, but I think we saw Adrian Peterson hit the rookie wall later in the season. Maybe it was due to his knee injury, but then again, maybe it wasn’t since he did make some pretty athletic moves in the final games of his rookie season.
Adrian Peterson is one the best of the up and coming backs, and with his burst and speed, he is going to make an LT-like number of plays throughout his career. Let’s hope it’s a long one.