Ranking the Top-10 NFL Running Backs

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Ranking the Top-10 NFL Running Backs

Stephen Samra07/20/21
Article written by:Stephen SamraStephen Samra


Frederick Breedon / Stringer via Getty Images

Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus recently evaluated the entire crop of NFL running-backs, ranking them from 1-32. As the position returns to prominence, we look at a top-10 featuring NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award candidates scattered throughout.

Here are the Top-10 Running Backs in the NFL, according to Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus

1. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans: He’s not called King Henry for nothing. Henry placed the crown firmly upon his head the last two seasons, leading the league in rushing each year. As PFF states, the former Crimson Tide back has over 2,758 yards after contact since the start of the 2019 season, almost 1,000 more than any other back. He sits firmly atop the list of top-10 running backs. 

2. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings: The Minnesota Vikings offensive line is ranked 15th league-wide in PFF run-blocking grade over the last two seasons. That hasn’t stopped Dalvin Cook from earning a PFF rushing grade of 90.9 over that span, only trailing Henry. Cook can potentially take over the top spot if he can continue to electrify.

3. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers: The shining light inside the Queen City – Monson states that McCaffrey has turned into arguably the most complete running back in the entire league. With Sam Darnold steadying the quarterback position in 2021, McCaffrey has the potential to reach new heights. He’ll be out to remind everyone why he’s considered the best back on the list of Top-10 running backs by many.

4. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns: All business is what you get with Chubb. There’s nothing flashy about the Cleveland Browns running back, aside from his unparalleled ability to tote the rock. He’s had the best-broken tackle rate in the NFL over the last two seasons, with 124 broken tackles on 488 carries. Monson states his one flaw is his lack of impact in the passing game, which keeps him out of the top three.

5. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints: The New Orleans Saints’ offense was the Kamara show in 2020. The former Tennessee Volunteer did it all last season, terrifying defensive coordinators with his limitless potential. Per Monson, Kamara has seen 100 targets and caught 80 passes every season since he joined the Saints. His role could increase even more with Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston at quarterback in 2021.

6. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers: One of the most consistent running backs in the NFL, an off-year is something that Aaron Jones doesn’t know the definition of. He’s earned a PFF grade of at least 75.6 overall and 79.6 as a rusher in four straight seasons.

7. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants: Injuries robbed fans of watching one of the league’s most talented backs last season. Training to come back with a stronger than ever, Barkley will look to return to his rookie year form. That season, he earned a PFF grade of 85.2. Even before his time at Penn State, the sky’s the limit for teams when Barkley’s healthy. He could rocket up the list of Top-10 running backs.

8. Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks: The embodiment of his head coach, it’s no wonder why Carson is one of Pete Carroll’s favorites. Per Monson, Carson has broken 136 tackles and averaged over 3.0 yards after contact over the last three seasons. A bulldog at the position, his return to Seattle may have been their best off-season move.

9. Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders: Only Henry and Chubb have broken more tackles on the ground than Jacobs over the past two seasons, per Monson. That puts the 2019 first-round pick in elite company. The former Alabama running back delivers the smash-mouth attitude Jon Gruden craves.

10. Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns: Sharing a backfield with Chubb has only highlighted Hunt’s best attributes. While the former may be a better ball carrier, Hunt has proven he’s the superior receiver. Per Monson, Hunt has broken 33 tackles on receptions since the start of 2019. The Cleveland Browns possess the ability to spell one solid running back with another. Subsequently, it’s no wonder why they’re a trendy Super Bowl pick.