“The NFL is a passing game”. That’s essentially the line that has been fed to fans over the past 5-10 years. Quarterbacks are breaking records almost seemingly on a weekly basis and scoring over 30 points a game is becoming common place amongst several offences. Wide receivers get the big money contracts with the likes of Mike Evans, Larry Fitzgerald and Jarvis Landry carrying a cap hit north of $15 million this season.
Lost in this madness is a guy who takes a pounding on nearly every play that he touches the ball, that when he is not carrying the rock or running a route is likely trying to block a blitzing linebacker intent on destroying his quarterback, that guy of course is the running back. Even if that running back performs to an elite level year in and year out, there is still a reluctance to pay the guy (I see you Le’veon Bell). This approach appears to be gradually changing however, and running backs are getting some more love.
Recent drafts have seen high selections at the position with the likes of Saquon Barkley, Leonard Fournette and Ezekiel Elliot all hearing their names called early on draft night. Todd Gurley signed a new deal with the Rams this past summer to become the highest paid at the position signing a $57 million contract to keep him in LA and other backs such as David Johnson, Lesean McCoy and Devonta Freeman have all signed handsome contracts in the non to distant past. Add in some big impacts from 1st and second year players such as Christian McCaffery with the Panthers, Sony Michel with the Patriots and Nick Chubb with the Browns and its fair to say that the running back position is finally getting the recognition it deserves after a few years in the shadows.
At just over the halfway stage of the season with most teams having now played 9 games there are 6 running backs averaging over 1 touchdown a game either rushing or receiving. They are: –
Todd Gurley – 17, Alvin Kamara – 14, Kareem Hunt – 13, James Conner – 11, Melvin Gordon – 11, James White – 10
You can make a convincing argument that all of these players are the centrepiece of their respective offences, and several other backs would be leading their teams in touchdowns that fall into the same category. It would certainly suggest that there is life in the NFL running back and as the ageless Frank Gore proves week in and week out, a good runner can prove extremely valuable over a long period of time.
This got me thinking if you could take just 1 running back from any franchise who would you take and why?
For me it would be last season’s offensive rookie of the year, Alvin Kamara. Normal wisdom would suggest that Mark Ingram would be the Saints short yardage back, given his build, but give Kamara the ball inside the 5 yard line and it almost appears to be a guaranteed touchdown. Looking for a receiving threat out of the backfield? Kamara is on pace for over 90 receptions, over 700 yards and around 6 touchdowns, that type of production would be great out of your teams second wide receiver let alone a guy also on pace for around 1300 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground. When you factor in that the Saints do have a genuine timeshare in the backfield these are incredible numbers. When he is due for a new contract it will be intriguing as to what the Saints do if he continues his current production.
Who would your ideal running back be if you were an NFL general manager and salary cap was not an issue?
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