There are 32 starting running backs in the NFL. Each of them with a different style of running. And they are each the back trusted to move the chains when their team calls upon them. Not all of them are great or even elite backs. Some of them won't even be remembered by fans in a few years. Others may go down in history as one of the greatest.
Of all the running backs in the league, who would you want behind Drew Brees going into 2011? This is just based on talent, not worrying about the scheme the back best fits or the money paid to him.
Make the jump to see the top five running backs I would want come 2011. Keep in mind, we'll be discussing the second tier of running backs later, so don't get ahead of yourself.
1. Adrian Peterson
Unarguably, a top five back since coming into the league in 2007. He seems to have a switch in his head that makes him run faster, harder and better. And he can just flip that switch at will. Peterson has yet to have a sub 1,000 yard season in four seasons. He is coming off the worst performance of his career with 1,298 yards rushing in 283 attempts and 12 TDs. His worst performance is still better than Pierre Thomas' best career performance. The man is simply a beast who has fixed his fumbling problem. Imagine him behind the Saints O-line with Brees in front of him.
2. Jamaal Charles
Of all the running backs with 1,000 yards (17 total), Charles had the 4th fewest carries. Yet he had the 2nd most total yardage of all backs. Which of course begs the question: why didn't he get more carries? Regardless, Charles is a young back who can be an absolute beast with the ball. He is just as good as a receiver and I would salivate to have him in the Saints backfield.
3. Steven Jackson
Jackson has been without much talent around him in St. Louis for some time yet still runs hard. If the Rams can get a bit more talent around quarterback Sam Bradford, he and Steven Jackson could really lead the Rams to something. However, imagine Jackson on the Saints instead with a good O-line, elite quarterback and good receivers. He would dominate as he is so hard to tackle.
4. Maurice Jones-Drew
Nicknamed the bowling ball, he is only 5'7" which makes him so much harder to tackle. That, combined with his ability to run hard, make him a good back regardless of O-line. On pure talent, he's one of the better running backs in the league and would be a great back for any team.
5. Rashard Mendenhall
Mendenhall is a back that just won't go down. And he has a poor O-line to work behind as well. He is a very good runner and compliments Big Ben well. If he had a better O-line or even an elite quarterback like Brees to distract defenses, he would be phenomenal. On his own, there are only a few backs I would want ahead of him and he would frustrate me if I were a defensive coordinator.