Building the Perfect NFL Running Back

In today’s article I’m going to be building the perfect NFL running back by breaking down a variety of skill sets and selecting the best NFL running back at each skill set to create an unstoppable running back.

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Size: Ezekiel Elliott, at 6 feet tall and 225 pounds, is the ideal size for a modern day NFL running back. He’s got the height and weight to be powerful in short yardage situations, but he’s not too heavy where he isn’t fast enough to make plays in open space and have the speed to breakaway into the second level. Thus, Elliott’s build allows for the perfect balance between power and agility, which is definitely something necessary in any running back.

Strength/Power: Derrick Henry is the best power back in the league. In 2019, Henry racked up the most yards after contact, yards after contact per rushing attempt, and the third most broken tackles in the entire league. Talk about being physical, Henry gets stronger as games progress. His forceful and physical style wears down defenses. Just watch what Henry did against the Ravens in last year’s Divisional Round matchup. That kind of running style is hard to stop, and when you’re building the NFL’s best running back, it’d be crazy not to include Henry’s strength and power.

Pass Catching: Christian McCaffrey is the NFL’s best pass catcher out of the backfield. In 2019, McCaffrey led all running backs in receiving yards with over 1,000 of them. McCaffrey also has the pass catching abilities to line up as a receiver and be an effective member of the passing game. His hands are a huge factor to that, and it’s no surprise that McCaffrey’s the best pass catcher at the running back position in the NFL.

Athleticism: Saquon Barkley is an athletic freak. Like Julio Jones, the success of Barkley’s game comes from his athletic ability. He’s got the burst, the strength, the quickness, and the agility to be an effective runner in short yardage situations and in open space. Barkley’s athleticism makes him one of the NFL’s best and most fun running backs to watch. Who doesn’t want that?

Speed: Matt Breida may be a name that shocks you when it comes to speed at the running back position, but Breida is quick. In 2019, he was clocked in as the fastest NFL player by Next Gen Stats. That speed makes him a great change of pace back, but in a league where speed is becoming more and more important, having Breida’s elite quickness would be an instant asset for any aspiring running back.

Elusiveness: Dalvin Cook is a slippery and shifty runner. He’s constantly breaking tackles and making guys miss in open space. In 2019, Cook ranked eighth in big runs, fourth in evaded tackles, and eleventh in juke rate, which all can be traced back to his elite elusiveness.

Vision: Le’Veon Bell is at the top of the NFL running back community when it comes to vision and patience. Bell is known for his patient run style, allowing for plays to develop in order to take what the defense gives him. He allows his offensive line to make room for him, and then he’s got the burst to find an open hole and scurry through for a big gain. Bell’s elite vision complements his patient running style, and his ability to scan the field and find the best running lane is second to none.

Durability: Frank Gore has been in the NFL for the better part of two decades and is known as one the most productive running backs in NFL history. Longevity and durability matter, especially at a physical position like running back. Gore’s ability to be healthy year in and year out and be able to be productive at a high level even past his prime and into his thirties is a rare trait to find in a running back. Too many running backs falter out as they hit thirty, but Gore’s longevity and durability throughout his career are must haves for any franchise running back.


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