Earlier my top five NFL running backs. Not on career accomplishments, but on pure talent as of right now. Today, I round out my top 10 and rank running backs six through ten.
Make the jump for part two and to see which running backs made the cut! Then share your own ranking of second tier running backs.
6. Ray Rice
Rice is a great 'pound the rock' type of back. Which works perfectly with the way the Ravens run their team. In the Saints offensive scheme, he may not work as well. However, from a pure talent perspective, he would be a guy I would want on my team. Behind Baltimore's mediocre line this year, he still racked up 1,220* yards just rushing the ball alone. Behind a good O-line and with an elite quarterback, he would rack up the yardage.
(*Note: half of these yards came from the Saints game)
7. Arian Foster
If I asked you one year ago who Arian Foster was, you wouldn't know who I was talking about. Then, Foster exploded onto the scene with over 200 yards against the Colts in Week 1. Foster would gather up another 1,400 yards to lead the league in rushing and had a very good YPC average of 4.9, considering his 327 carries. He also led the league in rushing TD's and was one of the best receiving running backs with almost 700 yards out of the backfield.
After all that, why did I not rank him much higher on this list? Well, Houston runs a zone blocking scheme which is tailored to running backs with good vision, which Foster has (very well I might add). He also had the benefit of all-pro fullback Vonta Leach lead blocking for him. Basically, it's hard to gauge whether Foster was just the beneficiary of a good system or he is just that talented. Another year in Houston, and we can find a better answer.
8. Chris Johnson
So you may ask why I left the running back who has one of the 2,000 yard rushing crowns? Well, on a per play basis, he is not that good. For instance, he can run nine plays and get nine yards. Then on the tenth play get 91 yards, giving him 100 yards rushing, a TD and 10.0 YPC. But you had to feed him the ball ten times before you got rewarded for the sacrifice of three series'. He has speed - no one can deny this - and he can make a play when needed. But you have to wait for him to find that special hole for him to break it all the way, instead of just taking what the team needs at the moment.
9. Michael Turner
As much as I hate the man personally (just because he's a Falcon), he is the cog that makes the Falcons offense work. He runs hard and seems big enough to be a fullback. He has talent like you wouldn't believe and since coming to the Falcons he has been a beast against the Saints. He would probably be a bit higher on this list, but being 29 years old means that his shelf life is starting to run out. He is still a strong back that would improve the Saints run game immediately.
10. Peyton Hillis
Again, if I asked you one year ago who Peyton Hillis was, you probably wouldn't know who I was talking about. Hillis broke on the scene with his hard running and gave the Browns some hope after many years of ineptitude. He has done very well in Cleveland considering they had no QB. Put him in New Orleans and hand him the ball; he would do great.
Personally speaking, this list was much harder for me to compile than the quarterback list. The top ten QB's in the league are pretty easy to figure out, minus one or two. But top ten running backs? I don't think any NFL fan in the country has the same list. But what about your list? Who do you think are the ten best running backs in the NFL?