Bryan’s Top 5 Running Backs in the NFL

It’s never too early to start thinking about the upcoming NFL season. And with training camps just a few weeks away, RushPRnews decided to create a top 5 list of the best players in their respective positions heading into the 2009 season. This week will feature the running back position.

By Bryan Mongeau-Eastmond, staff writer
NEW YORK (RPRN) 7/16/2009–Here are our power rankings.

1. Adrian Peterson
#28 Minnesota Vikings Height: 6-1 Weight: 217

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is the league’s most potent back. Peterson also known as “All Day,” has the uncanny ability of running around, over or through defenders, while making it look easy. The league’s leading rusher in 2008 with 1,760 yards doesn’t seem to have much trouble wearing down opponents on the gridiron.

With a couple of somewhat reliable receivers, the Minnesota Vikings are unquestionably a run first offense and at times lack balance. But why deviate from the formula if it works? Peterson is the best player on the Vikings squad and looks like the best athlete on the field virtually every Sunday. No question that he keeps his offense in gear even when times are hard.

2. Michael Turner
#33 Atlanta Falcons Height: 5-10 Weight: 256

Second in rushing yards, second in touchdowns among running backs, Michael Turner stepped it up last season and showed why he deserves to be second on our list. Having finally earned a starting position after being LaDainian Tomlinson’s backup in San Diego, Turner proved that he can carry the load by himself.

With a rookie quarterback in Matt Ryan, the Falcons relied heavily on the running game to take pressure off their young QB. Turner’s contribution out of the backfield was instantaneous and at times magical to watch. His consistency on the ground and hard fought yards provided manageable passing situations. He also had a nose for the end zone, scoring 17 TDs.

3. Marion Barber
#24 Dallas Cowboys Height: 6-0 Weight: 225

Marion Barber doesn’t mask his emotions on the football field. He always has a serious demeanor and at all times looks mad. In fact he plays mad. And when defenders attempt to tackle this power runner, they are the ones who end up mad at the end of the collision.
Marion “the Barbarion” Barber helps the Dallas Cowboys’ offense grind down the clock and maintain ball possession. With defenses worried about stopping the run, this leaves the window wide open for Tony Romo and the Cowboys’ prolific passing attack.

Perhaps the only knock on his game comes from his lack of speed, but Barber still has enough turbo in the tank to make his dreads fly out in the open field.

4. Ronnie Brown
#23 Miami Dolphins Height: 6-0 Weight: 230

Ronnie Brown along with along with Wild Cat formation, a play that features the direct-snap-to-a-running back, has transformed Brown into a multi-dimensional threat. A strategy designed to get running backs Brown and Ricky Williams on the field at the same time created a scheme that orchestrated mayhem when first introduced and took the Miami Dolphins from worst to first AFC East.

Brown takes the direct snap from center with the option to run, hand off, pitch or pass throwing conventional play-calling out the window. With this newset wrinkle, Brown has become a one-man show, given the lack of talent on offense.

5. Chris Johnson
#28 Tennessee Titans Height: 5-11 Weight: 200

Although the second year tailback in Tennessee is not the mayor of Nashville just yet, his speed and shifty style of running certainly causes headaches for opposing defensive coordinators. Out of the backfield, Johnson adds dynamite to an offense that had lacked an explosive threat in recent years.

When quarterback Vince Young suffered a knee injury during the season opener, the Titans “Smash and Dash” tandem of LenDale White and rookie sensation, Chris Johnson, went to work on the ground and helped their ball club clinch the division title in the AFC South.
But as the season progressed, it was becoming increasingly clear that the faster and more energetic Johnson was the more effective of the two. Look no further than their playoff bout against the Baltimore Ravens. When Dash went down with an ankle injury, the Titans certainly missed a beat or two and eventually lost to a stifling defense.

Bonus: LaDainian Tomlinson
|#21 San Diego Chargers Height: 5-10 Weight: 221

No, we can’t give up on LT. His production numbers we very low, but he still remains an ellite player in the NFL and we are sure that he will bounce back next season.

Photo of LaDainian Tomlinson courtesy of the National Football League

Read all of Bryan’s stories here

Post your comments and let us know if you agree with our analysis or give your own top five list.