This is a general thread about NFL running backs (RBs).
I’m going to start things off with some comments about RBs who run with a physical, punishing style–something I really like in a RB. I went back to watch clips of previous RBs, and I came away with this impression: There really aren’t a lot of these type of backs. If you were to list all the best RBs of all time, my sense is that most of them wouldn’t really fall into this category. Most of them would rely on moves, speed, and vision. This isn’t to say that they’re not physical–a lot of them can break tackles–but they’re not the type that would punish defenders. So who are some of the really good RBs that do have a physical, punishing style? Off the top of my head, here are a few (in no order):
1. Earl Campbell
2. Walter Payton
3. Marshall Lynch
4. Christian Okoye
5. Jerome Bettis
6. Adrian Peterson
Two older ones who I only saw via highlights: Larry Csonka and Jim Brown. (I’d love to have a RB like Csonka.)
By the way, watching some highlights of AP reinforces my impression that he’s in the same class as the great RBs of the past. You want to mention guys like Walter Payton, Jim Brown, Gayle Sayers, OJ Simpson–I see in that same mold. He had it all–speed, moves, and power. Here are some highlights:
In the last ten or fifteen years, I think he might be the best running back I’ve seen. I would put him above Ladanian Tomlinson and Marshawn Lynch. I guess Marshall Faulk would be in there. Curtis Martin, Jerome Bettis, Edgerrin James. You want to put in Priest Holmes, Jamal Lewis, Corey Dillon, and Shaun Alexander–AP above them all (although I guess that might not be so controversial.)
I might choose AP over RBs like Emmitt Smith and Thurman Thomas. I might choose him over Barry Sanders, but that’s more of a preference thing on my part. What about Eric Dickerson or Marcus Allen? Maybe.
7. John Riggins