Rookie running backs -- first games
Posted Sep. 01 at 06:30 AM
I've always subscribed to the theory that if a running back is going to be something special, he tends to show it right away. Like Adrian Peterson did last year, when he ran for over 100 yards and scored on a 60-yard catch-and-run in his first game. Billy Sims and Curt Warner also come to mind as running backs who weren't only good, but just stepped right in and excelled right away.
So with five running backs having been selected in the first round this year, I thought I'd play around with some of the numbers.
The below chart shows the top 20 rushers drafted after the merger in 1970. For each guy, I've looked at how he did in his first two games, and then listed the better of those two efforts - total yards and touchdowns. As you can see, a lot of them did, in fact, have solid games early in their careers. Only four, in fact, didn't either score or go over 100 combined yards in one of their first two games.
With that in mind, we should have a good idea by the middle of September which ones of these rookie running backs - Darren McFadden, Jonathan Stewart, Felix Jones, Rashard Mendenhall and Chris Johnson - are going to wind up being big-time players.
TOP 20 RUNNING BACKS SINCE 1970
How they fared in their first two games (the listed numbers show the better of their first two games):
87 1 Emmitt Smith
131 0 Walter Payton
153 1 Barry Sanders
102 1 Curtis Martin
72 1 Jerome Bettis
128 3 Eric Dickerson
98 2 Tony Dorsett
174 3 Marshall Faulk
180 1 Marcus Allen
44 0 Franco Harris
113 1 Thurman Thomas
127 1 Edgerrin James
73 0 John Riggins
88 0 Corey Dillon
44 0 Fred Taylor
125 2 LaDainian Tomlinson
140 0 Ricky Watters
120 1 Tiki Barber
152 1 Eddie George
193 1 Ottis Anderson
Posted by BRYAN BERTSCH | Sep. 01 at 11:12 AM
That's an impressive list. And very informative. I wonder how many #1 pick RBs had good games within their first two and ended up being dogs.
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