Currently, there are 8 running backs who are 30 years old or younger who you could start making a case as to whether they will be Hall of Famers or not. Here's my picks, in order of worthiness:
1. Adrian Peterson--28 years old, 10057 total yards, 4.99 YPC. If Peterson retired tomorrow, I think he'd be a sure-fire HoFer. Given he's only 27, I can see him playing and producing for another 3-5 seasons. I'll say he finishes with around 15000 yards, good enough for 4th on the all time list. Verdict: Slam Dunk
2. Frank Gore--30 years old, 9660 yards, 4.59 YPC. This is a guy who everybody seems to write off every season, yet he quietly puts together great numbers, including a terrific YPC. He's on a pace to get his obligatory 1200 yards again this season and will likely break 10000 yards for his career in the process. If he can stay healthy for another 2-3 seasons, he should produce numbers that should get him in. Verdict: Yes, if he can reach 12000 yards.
3. Marshawn Lynch--27 years old, 7,057 yards, 4.25 YPC. He was the inspiration for this post, as I was shocked to see he's only 27, as it seems as though he's been around forever. He's emerged in recent seasons as a premier back and produces several highlight reel runs. He'll probably finish this season around 7,500 yards. If he can stay healthy and produce the way he recently has been for another 3-4 seasons, we might be looking at 12-13000 yards for his career. It's a big if though, as given his style, I'm not sure he can. Verdict: If he can stay healthy, yes.
4. Steven Jackson--30 years old, 10474 total yards, 4.20 YPC. Jackson has been slowing down at warp speed the last couple seasons, as evidenced by this season's injury plagued campaign. I can't see him sticking around for another season or 2. I'll say he gets another 2000 yards--and that's being generous--which would put him in the Top 10 all time. Verdict: If he gets to 12k yards, then yes. Otherwise, no.
5. Chris Johnson--28 years old, 7662 yards, 4.59 YPC. He has a great YPC average, but like Jackson, I think the wheels are starting to come off. He'll be lucky to finish this season with 1000 yards. Verdict: Probably not, as I don't think he finishes his career with 10000 yards.
6. Maurice Jones Drew--28 years old, 7884 yards, 4.47 YPC. Had I done this list two seasons ago, MJD probably would've ranked #3. Now, due to injuries and crummy Jacksonville teams, I'm not so sure he'll make it. The biggest boost for his candidacy would probably be to get out of Jacksonville, but I'm not really sure what to make of him after this season's disaster. Verdict: If he gets out of Jacksonville within the next season or two, maybe. Otherwise, probably not.
7. Matt Forte--27 years old, 6,298 yards, 4.27 YPC. I never know what to make of Matt Forte. From a fantasy perspective, some years--such as this one--he's gold, and other years he's junk. It's that inconsistency that will probably ultimately be his demise, as I'm not sure he'll get to 10000 years and HoF consideration. Verdict: Probably not.
8. Ray Rice--26 years old, 6002 yards, 4.34 YPC. Like MJD, a season ago I thought this guy was well on his way to Canton. After this year I'm not so sure. Still, it might just be an off year, but the questions still remain. I'd have to see at least one more season from Rice before I can give a definitive answer. Verdict: Incomplete.
I took another look at this and instead of looking at just rushing yards I looked at All Purpose yardage especially given some of the current crop have been active in team's passing games. For instance Tiki Barber doesn't show up on this list but he had 17,357 AP yards ahead of notables Jim Brown, Thurman Thomas, Eric Dickerson, Tony Dorsett and a few others. Earl Campbell had just over 10,000. Was Tiki better than them? No, but he did contribute mightily to the Giants during his years there.
Here's how the list above stacks up:
Chris Johnson 9,600
15,000 seems to be a good threshold and based on that I'd pick:
AP, Forte, Gore, Jackson. I don't believe the others get past 15K. btw, Darren Sproles has just over 15K but much of that came from returns and not running or receiving. Jamaal Charles has 8500 and given his age may very likely reach 15K if he stays healthy
Last edited on Wed Dec 4th, 2013 12:43 pm by yellowdog
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