I always get nervous when drafting running backs paired with quarterbacks who are great runners. Jalen Hurts, Josh Allen, Cam Newton. With quarterbacks of that ilk, there’s always the fear that they’re going to run in all of the short touchdowns on their own. On the other hand, a mobile quarterback can help to open things up, with defenses having to respect that threat.

So I have poked around with the numbers some on this topic. In the chart below, you’re looking at the top 10 running quarterbacks of the last 20 years. I’ve taken the quarterbacks (in bold), then looked at how the running backs on their teams performed.

On this one, I’m setting aside the passing stats. It’s just rushing. So with a running back, there are no points given for receptions, receiving yards or touchdown catches. When you see the “points” and “rank” in the final columns, they show how he performed as a runner relative to other running backs in that season, using 6 points for touchdowns and 1 point for every 10 rushing yards.

With Hurts in Philadelphia last year, for example, no running back finished with top-30 rushing numbers. Mile Sanders ran for 754 yards but famously didn’t score a touchdown all year. (I know this well, having drafted Sanders in a TD-only league.)

But I do see some decent runners. There are 10 teams included in this study. Four of them had a running back who finished with top-10 rushing numbers (tagged with double dots). And three other backs finished with top-20 numbers (single dot).

Josh Allen strangely didn’t make the list. He was in an earlier iteration I was workshopping last week but didn’t make the cut on this one. Nor does Colin Kaepernick, which speaks to how many good running quarterbacks there have been. But on Allen, I noticed that Devin Singletary came on nicely in the second half of last season – top-10 numbers in November/December. They started using him more, and they stopped giving all the goal-line carries to Allen.

Also note that Kyler Murray was a big runner in 2020, potentially scaring away people from Arizona’s running backs last year, but James Conner went on to be one of the best value picks of last year’s drafts. Murray runs a lot, but the Cardinals like to use their tailbacks at the goal line. Two years in a row, Arizona has had the player who’s scored the most 1-yard TD runs in the league – Kenyan Drake and Conner.

Numbers appear below, with the quarterbacks in bold, followed by all running backs on their team that ranked in the top 100 at their position that year. (Always nice to find a way to work in Bob Christian, Evan Royster and Fozzy Whittaker.)

2021Jalen Hurts, Phil.1397845.610138.41
2021Boston Scott, Phil.873734.3779.335
2021Miles Sanders, Phil.1377545.5075.439
2021Kenneth Gainwell, Phil.682914.3559.151
2021Jordan Howard, Phil.864064.7358.652
2020Kyler Murray, Ariz.1338196.211147.91
2020•• Kenyan Drake, Ariz.2399554.010155.58
2020Chase Edmonds, Ariz.974484.6150.855
2020Lamar Jackson, Balt.1591,0056.37142.52
2020• J.K. Dobbins, Balt.1348056.09134.514
2020• Gus Edwards, Balt.1447235.06108.319
2020Mark Ingram, Balt.722994.2241.965
2020Cam Newton, N.E.1375924.312131.23
2020Damien Harris, N.E.1376915.0281.131
2020Sony Michel, N.E.794495.7150.954
2020Rex Burkhead, N.E.672744.1345.461
2020James White, N.E.351213.5224.179
2020J.J. Taylor, N.E.231104.8011.098
2019Lamar Jackson, Balt.1761,2066.97162.61
2019•• Mark Ingram, Balt.2021,0185.010161.88
2019Gus Edwards, Balt.1337115.4283.131
2019Justice Hill, Balt.582253.9234.559
2015Cam Newton, Car.1326364.810123.61
2015• Jonathan Stewart, Car.2429894.16134.910
2015Mike Tolbert, Car.622564.1131.665
2015Cameron Artis-Payne, Car.451834.1124.375
2015Fozzy Whittaker, Car.251084.3116.887
2012Cam Newton, Car.1277415.88122.12
2012DeAngelo Williams, Car.1737374.35103.721
2012Mike Tolbert, Car.541833.4760.336
2012Jonathan Stewart, Car.933363.6139.658
2012Robert Griffin, Was.1208156.87123.51
2012•• Alfred Morris, Was.3351,6134.813239.32
2012Evan Royster, Was.23883.8220.885
2011Cam Newton, Car.1267065.614154.61
2011DeAngelo Williams, Car.1558365.47125.621
2011Jonathan Stewart, Car.1427615.44100.127
2002Michael Vick, Atl.1137776.98125.71
2002Warrick Dunn, Atl.2309274.07134.719
2002T.J. Duckett, Atl.1305073.9474.738
2002Bob Christian, Atl.311193.8329.957

—Ian Allan