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Sizing Up Running Backs
David Dorey
June 27, 2005
Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers | Tight Ends

Team Running Backs Ht Wt Age Exp
ARI Arrington, J.J. 5'9" 214 22 R
ARI Shipp, Marcel 5'11'' 222 27 4
ATL Duckett, T.J. 6'0'' 254 24 3
ATL Dunn, Warrick 5'9'' 180 30 8
BAL Lewis, Jamal 5'11'' 231 26 4
BAL Taylor, Chester 5'10'' 213 26 3
BUF Henry, Travis 5'9'' 221 26 4
BUF McGahee, Willis 6'0'' 223 24 1
CAR Davis, Stephen 6'0'' 230 31 9
CAR Foster, DeShaun 6'0'' 222 25 2
CAR Shelton, Eric 6'1" 246 22 R
CHI Benson, Cedric 5'10" 217 22 R
CHI Jones, Thomas 5'10'' 211 27 5
CIN Johnson, Rudi 5'10'' 233 26 3
CIN Perry, Chris 6'0" 219 24 2
CLE Droughns, Reuben 5'11" 207 27 5
CLE Green, William 6'1'' 221 26 3
CLE Suggs, Lee 6'0'' 205 25 2
DAL Barber, Marion 5'11" 221 22 R
DAL Jones, Julius 5'10" 215 24 2
DAL Thomas, Anthony 6'2" 226 28 5
DEN Anderson, Mike 6'0'' 230 32 5
DEN Bell, Tatum 5'11" 212 24 2
DEN Clarett, Maurice 6'0" 234 21 R
DEN Griffin, Quentin 5'7'' 198 24 2
DET Jones, Kevin 5'11" 221 22 1
DET Pinner, Artose 5'10'' 228 27 2
GB Davenport, Najeh 6'1'' 247 26 3
GB Fisher, Tony 6'1'' 222 26 3
GB Green, Ahman 6'0'' 217 28 7
HOU Davis, Domanick 5'9'' 220 25 2
HOU Morency, Vernand 5'9" 212 22 R
HOU Wells, Jonathan 6'1'' 245 26 3
IND James, Edgerrin 6'0'' 214 27 6
IND Rhodes, Dominic 5'9'' 208 26 3
JAX Pearman, Alvin 5'9" 208 23 R
JAX Taylor, Fred 6'1'' 231 29 6
JAX Toefield, LaBrandon 5'11'' 230 25 2
KC Holmes, Priest 5'9'' 213 32 8
KC Johnson, Larry 6'2'' 225 26 2
MIA Brown, Ronnie 6'0 233 23 R
MIA Gordon, Lamar 6'1" 228 24 3
MIN Bennett, Michael 5'9'' 211 27 4
MIN Fason, Ciatrick 6'0" 207 22 R
MIN Moore, Mewelde 5'11" 209 23 2
MIN Smith, Onterrio 5'10'' 220 25 2
NE Cobbs, Cedric 6'0" 225 24 2
NE Dillon, Corey 6'1'' 225 30 8
NE Faulk, Kevin 5'8'' 202 29 6
NO McAllister, Deuce 6'1'' 221 27 4
NO Stecker, Aaron 5'10'' 205 30 5
NYG Barber, Tiki 5'10'' 200 30 8
NYG Jacobs, Brandon 6'4" 256 22 R
NYJ Blaylock, Derrick 5'9" 210 25 5
NYJ Houston, Cedric 6'0" 220 22 R
NYJ Martin, Curtis 5'11'' 205 32 10
OAK Fargas, Justin 6'1'' 220 25 2
OAK Jordan, Lamont 5'10" 230 26 5
OAK Redmond, J.R. 5'11" 215 28 4
PHI Buckhalter, Correll 6'0'' 222 27 3
PHI Moats, Ryan 5'8 211 22 R
PHI Westbrook, Brian 5'8'' 200 26 3
PIT Bettis, Jerome 5'11'' 255 33 12
PIT Haynes, Verron 5'11'' 225 26 3
PIT Staley, Duce 5'11'' 220 30 8
SD Chatman, Jesse 5'8'' 215 26 3
SD Tomlinson, Ladainian 5'10'' 221 26 4
SEA Alexander, Shaun 5'11'' 229 28 5
SEA Morris, Maurice 5'11'' 202 26 3
SF Barlow, Kevan 6'1'' 238 26 4
SF Gore, Frank 5'9" 212 22 R
SF Jackson, Terry 6'0'' 232 29 6
STL Faulk, Marshall 5'10'' 211 32 11
STL Jackson, Steven 6'2' 231 22 2
TB Alstott, Michael 6'1" 248 32 10
TB Pittman, Michael 6'0'' 218 30 7
TB Williams, Carnell 5'11" 217 23 R
TEN Brown, Chris 6'3'' 220 24 2
WAS Betts, Ladell 5'10" 222 25 3
WAS Portis, Clinton 5'11" 205 24 3

Size is a determining factor for running backs but there's exceptions to be certain. One of the key determinants on where a player will be drafted - and what role he is expected to play - is his size when it comes to running backs. Players coming out of college may have been superstars, but many end up as little more than third down backs. Players like Westbrook and Barber are breaking that mold, but other than the rare exceptions, there is an amazing amount of consistency to the size of a running back and his success.

# Team Top 12 - 2004 FF Pts Ht Wt Age Exp
1 SEA Shaun Alexander 305 5'11'' 229 28 5
2 NYG Tiki Barber 299 5'10'' 200 30 8
3 SD Ladainian Tomlinson 286 5'10'' 221 26 4
4 NYJ Curtis Martin 278 5'11'' 205 32 10
5 HOU Domanick Davis 261 5'9'' 220 25 2
6 IND Edgerrin James 257 6'0'' 214 27 6
7 NE Corey Dillon 251 6'1'' 225 30 8
8 CIN Rudi Johnson 226 5'10'' 233 26 3
9 BUF Willis McGahee 208 6'0'' 223 24 1
10 PHI Brian Westbrook 205 5'8'' 200 26 3
11 KC Priest Holmes 198 5'9'' 213 32 8
12 WAS Clinton Portis 197 5'11" 205 24 3
Average for Top 12 5'10'' 216 28 5

Height - Unlike quarterbacks or receivers, running backs are almost always less than six feet tall. The height is not as big a factor since running backs typically do not need to see over the head of the line to throw nor out jump cornerbacks for passes. 5'10" is the prototypical height along with proportionate weight.

Weight - The speed of a running back is key to his ability to stretch runs into longer gains and pop the occasional long distance touchdown. That conflicts with the need for size to remain durable and to get the tough yards. The average weight in the top 12 from last year was 216 and that's fairly consistent year to year. Tomlinson at 5'10" and 220 has what is considered the perfect height/weight ratio. While many backs out of college weigh in at under 200 pounds, that almost never happens for the successful backs in the NFL. Again - Barber and Westbrook are exceptions and their listed weight of 200 pounds was probably measured while someone had their thumb on the scale.

Age/Experience - Youth be served. Barber and Martin enjoyed career type years in 2004 but almost always the best runners will have been in the league around five seasons and are about 27 years old. That is prime time for tailbacks. Last year was one of the oldest averages in the last decade, propped up by the fact that no "big time" runners have come out of college for three seasons. That age average is likely to dip downward if Benson, Brown and Williams can deliver on their draft slot expectations.

# Top Rookies Team Ht Wt Age
1.02 Brown, Ronnie  MIA 6'0" 233 24
1.04 Benson, Cedric  CHI 5'10" 222 23
1.05 Williams, Carnell  TB 5'11" 217 23
2.12 Arrington, J.J.  ARZ 5'9" 214 21
2.22 Shelton, Eric CAR 6'1" 246 22
3.01 Gore, Frank SF 5'9" 217 22
3.09 Morency, Vernand HOU 5'10" 212 25
3.13 Moats, Ryan PHI 5'8" 210 23
3.37 Clarett, Maurice DEN 6'0" 234 22
4.08 Barber III, Marion DAL 5'11" 221 21
4.09 Jacobs, Brandon  NYG 6'4" 267 23
4.11 Fason, Ciatrick MIN 6'1" 207 23
4.26 Pearman, Alvin  JAX 5'10" 208 23
4.29 Sproles, Darren  SD 5'6" 187 22
5.06 Nash, Damien TEN 5'10" 218 23
6.08 Houston, Cedric  NYJ 5'11" 225 23

Rookies - Cedric Benson and Cadillac Williams enter the league at almost prototypical size while Ronnie Brown is a bit bigger than most. Like Steven Jackson, he has more bulk to get through the line and enough speed to compensate for that bigger size. J.J. Arrington was knocked down in the draft because at 5'9" and 214 pounds, he was considered smaller than ideal. The reality is that he's almost the exact same size as Priest Holmes.

Eric Shelton went to the Panthers and at 246 pounds, he's much bigger than average and yet could be a nice fit in the power rushing game in Carolina. Most notable is Brandon Jacobs going to the Giants. He'll be behind Tiki Barber who is one of the smallest starting backs in the league and yet at 267 pounds, there is no mistaking the vast difference between Barber and Jacobs. While little word has been made that "thunder and lightning" is the new plan, they certainly have the players to fill those roles.