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Sizing Up the Running Backs
David Dorey
June 23, 2008
Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers | Tight Ends
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# Team Name Ht. Wt. Age Exp.
1 SD LaDainian Tomlinson 5'10'' 221 28 7
2 PHI Brian Westbrook 5'10'' 203 28 6
3 MIN Adrian Peterson 6'1'' 217 22 1
4 WAS Clinton Portis 5'11'' 223 26 6
5 IND Joseph Addai 5'11'' 214 24 2
6 CLE Jamal Lewis 5'11'' 245 28 8
7 DAL Marion Barber 6'1'' 220 24 3
8 BAL Willis McGahee 6'1'' 232 26 5
9 SF Frank Gore 5'9'' 223 24 3
10 ARI Edgerrin James 6'1'' 220 29 9
    Average Top 10 5'11" 222 26 5

Height - The average height has increased slightly for top running backs thanks to the 6'1" height of Adrian Peterson, Marion Barber, Willis McGahee and Edgerrin James. For many years, the average height was always around 5'10" with plenty of 5'9" players but now only Gore is below 5'10". This is often a telling point for incoming rookies who were very successful in college with a short stature but then never catch fire in the NFL.

Weight - Thanks to the additional inch of average height, the weight of the top backs also increased to a high of 222 pounds. In previous seasons, it always hovered between 215 and 220 pounds. Brian Westbrook's 203 helped keep it lower than it could have been. For top level success in the NFL, almost every back is going to be around 220 to 230 pounds. This too shows up as why so many college stars never succeed in the NFL with a smaller size. Westbrook has consistently been the freak of successful backs as was Tiki Barber. Other than those two, best to look for a relatively large running back.

Age/Experience : As always, youth be served. The average age was only 26 with five seasons of experience. No runners were over 30 years of age last year and that will be tested soon with Tomlinson, Westbrook, Lewis and James all 28 years of age or older. It is a brutal position to play in the NFL and health and youth are at least as important as talent and wisdom.

Drafted Team Name Ht. Wt. Age
1.04 OAK Darren McFadden 6'2'' 205 21
1.13 CAR Jonathan Stewart 5'11'' 230 21
1.22 DAL Felix Jones 6'1'' 200 21
1.23 PIT Rashard Mendenhall 5'11'' 224 21
1.24 TEN Chris Johnson 5'11'' 200 23
2.13 CHI Matt Forte 6'1'' 224 23
2.24 BAL Ray Rice 5'9'' 205 21
3.01 DET Kevin Smith 6'1'' 211 22
3.06 SD Jacob Hester 6'1'' 224 23
3.10 KC Jamaal Charles 6'1'' 205 22
3.26 HOU Steve Slaton 5'10'' 190 22
4.23 DAL Tashard Choice 5'11'' 215 24
5.04 DEN Ryan Torain 6'1'' 213 22
5.11 DET Jerome Felton 6'1'' 247 22
5.14 ARI Tim Hightower 6'1'' 225 22
5.28 SEA Owen Schmitt 6'2'' 250 23
5.31 SD Marcus Thomas 6'2'' 215 24
6.06 ATL Thomas Brown 5'8'' 200 22
6.10 MIA Jalen Parmele 6'1'' 221 23
6.13 BUF Xavier Omon 5'11'' 220 23
6.36 IND Mike Hart 5'9'' 195 22
6.38 MIA Lex Hilliard 5'11'' 228 24
7.06 JAC Chauncey Washington 6'1'' 220 23
7.20 DEN Peyton Hillis 6'1'' 240 22
7.26 SEA Justin Forsett 5'8'' 190 23
7.31 TB Cory Boyd 6'1'' 213 23
7.33 BAL Allen Patrick 6'1'' 198 24

Rookies: While there are always exceptions to every rule, this is a standard set of running backs coming into the NFL from which only a handful will develop into starters of any note and even less (perhaps two or three) will ever visit the top ten for the position in any year. Going by the averages of top backs, Darren McFadden is both freakishly tall and yet light for the position. Felix Jones rings in just slightly smaller in height and weight. Both Jonathan Stewart and Rashard Mendenhall have the prototypical size for success in the NFL along with Matt Forte. Seven of the first 11 backs drafted are much lighter than what most backs need to succeed in the NFL - that happens every year.

Team Name Ht. Wt. Age Exp. Team Name Ht. Wt. Age Exp.
ARI Edgerrin James 6'1'' 220 30 10 MIN Adrian Peterson 6'1'' 217 23 2
ATL Michael Turner 5'10'' 237 26 5 NE Sammy Morris 6'1'' 220 31 9
ATL Jerious Norwood 5'11'' 204 25 3 NE Laurence Maroney 5'11'' 220 23 3
BAL Willis McGahee 6'1'' 232 27 6 NO Deuce McAllister 6'1'' 232 30 8
BAL Ray Rice 5'9'' 205 21 0 NO Reggie Bush 6'1'' 203 23 3
BUF Marshawn Lynch 5'11'' 215 22 2 NO Pierre Thomas 5'11'' 210 24 2
BUF Dwayne Wright 5'11'' 228 25 2 NYG Brandon Jacobs 6'4'' 264 26 4
BUF Fred Jackson 6'1'' 215 27 2 NYG Ahmad Bradshaw 5'9'' 198 22 2
CAR DeAngelo Williams 5'9'' 217 25 3 NYJ Thomas Jones 5'10'' 215 30 9
CAR Jonathan Stewart 5'11'' 230 21 0 NYJ Leon Washington 5'8'' 202 26 3
CHI Adrian Peterson 5'10'' 210 29 7 OAK LaMont Jordan 5'10'' 230 30 8
CHI Garrett Wolfe 5'7'' 186 24 2 OAK Justin Fargas 6'1'' 220 28 6
CHI Matt Forte 6'1'' 224 23 0 OAK Michael Bush 6'2'' 247 24 1
CIN Rudi Johnson 5'10'' 214 29 8 OAK Darren McFadden 6'2'' 205 21 0
CIN Chris Perry 6'1'' 224 27 4 PHI Correll Buckhalter 6'1'' 217 30 8
CLE Jamal Lewis 5'11'' 245 29 9 PHI Brian Westbrook 5'10'' 203 29 7
CLE Jason Wright 5'10'' 214 26 4 PHI Lorenzo Booker 5'10'' 191 24 2
DAL Marion Barber 6'1'' 220 25 4 PIT Rashard Mendenhall 5'11'' 224 21 0
DAL Felix Jones 6'1'' 200 21 0 PIT Willie Parker 5'10'' 209 28 5
DAL Tashard Choice 5'11'' 215 24 0 SD LaDainian Tomlinson 5'10'' 221 29 8
DEN Michael Pittman 6'1'' 228 33 11 SD Darren Sproles 5'6'' 181 25 4
DEN Ryan Torain 6'1'' 213 22 0 SD Jacob Hester 6'1'' 224 23 0
DEN Selvin Young 6'1'' 210 25 2 SEA T.J. Duckett 6'1'' 254 27 7
DET Tatum Bell 5'11'' 213 27 5 SEA Maurice Morris 5'11'' 216 29 7
DET Kevin Smith 6'1'' 211 22 0 SEA Julius Jones 5'10'' 211 27 5
GB Brandon Jackson 5'10'' 212 23 2 SF DeShaun Foster 6'1'' 222 28 7
GB Ryan Grant 6'1'' 218 26 2 SF Frank Gore 5'9'' 223 25 4
HOU Ahman Green 6'1'' 218 31 11 SF Michael Robinson 6'1'' 218 25 3
HOU Chris Brown 6'3'' 220 27 6 STL Steven Jackson 6'2'' 231 25 5
HOU Steve Slaton 5'10'' 190 22 0 STL Brian Leonard 6'1'' 226 24 2
IND Joseph Addai 5'11'' 214 25 3 STL Antonio Pittman 5'11'' 195 23 2
IND Dominic Rhodes 5'9'' 203 29 8 TB Warrick Dunn 5'9'' 180 33 12
JAC Fred Taylor 6'1'' 226 32 11 TB Carnell Williams 5'11'' 217 26 4
JAC Maurice Jones-Drew 5'7'' 212 23 3 TB Earnest Graham 5'9'' 225 28 5
KC Larry Johnson 6'1'' 230 29 6 TEN LenDale White 6'1'' 235 24 3
KC Jamaal Charles 6'1'' 205 22 0 TEN Chris Henry 5'11'' 230 23 2
MIA Ricky Williams 5'10'' 226 31 7 TEN Chris Johnson 5'11'' 200 23 0
MIA Ronnie Brown 6'1'' 232 27 4 WAS Clinton Portis 5'11'' 223 27 7
MIN Chester Taylor 5'11'' 213 29 7 WAS Ladell Betts 5'11'' 223 29 7

Height Weight Age Experience
Brandon Jacobs 6'4'' Brandon Jacobs 264 Michael Pittman 33 Warrick Dunn 12
Chris Brown 6'3'' T.J. Duckett 254 Warrick Dunn 33 Michael Pittman 11
Darren McFadden 6'2'' Michael Bush 247 Fred Taylor 32 Ahman Green 11
Steven Jackson 6'2'' Jamal Lewis 245 Ahman Green 31 Fred Taylor 11
Michael Bush 6'2'' Michael Turner 237 Ricky Williams 31 Edgerrin James 10
Ryan Torain 6'1'' LenDale White 235 Sammy Morris 31 Jamal Lewis 9
Willis McGahee 6'1'' Willis McGahee 232 Edgerrin James 30 Sammy Morris 9
Michael Robinson 6'1'' Ronnie Brown 232 Deuce McAllister 30 Thomas Jones 9
Jamaal Charles 6'1'' Deuce McAllister 232 Thomas Jones 30 Rudi Johnson 8
Michael Pittman 6'1'' Steven Jackson 231 LaMont Jordan 30 Dominic Rhodes 8
Felix Jones 6'1'' Jonathan Stewart 230 Correll Buckhalter 30 Deuce McAllister 8
Brian Leonard 6'1'' Larry Johnson 230 Adrian Peterson 29 LaMont Jordan 8
Fred Taylor 6'1'' LaMont Jordan 230 Rudi Johnson 29 Correll Buckhalter 8
LenDale White 6'1'' Chris Henry 230 Jamal Lewis 29 LaDainian Tomlinson 8
Ronnie Brown 6'1'' Dwayne Wright 228 Dominic Rhodes 29 Adrian Peterson 7
Jacob Hester 6'1'' Michael Pittman 228 Larry Johnson 29 Ricky Williams 7
Reggie Bush 6'1'' Fred Taylor 226 Chester Taylor 29 Chester Taylor 7
DeShaun Foster 6'1'' Ricky Williams 226 Brian Westbrook 29 Brian Westbrook 7
T.J. Duckett 6'1'' Brian Leonard 226 LaDainian Tomlinson 29 T.J. Duckett 7
Sammy Morris 6'1'' Earnest Graham 225 Maurice Morris 29 Maurice Morris 7
Fred Jackson 6'1'' Matt Forte 224 Ladell Betts 29 DeShaun Foster 7
Edgerrin James 6'1'' Chris Perry 224 Justin Fargas 28 Clinton Portis 7
Chris Perry 6'1'' Rashard Mendenhall 224 Willie Parker 28 Ladell Betts 7
Marion Barber 6'1'' Jacob Hester 224 DeShaun Foster 28 Willis McGahee 6
Larry Johnson 6'1'' Frank Gore 223 Earnest Graham 28 Chris Brown 6
Deuce McAllister 6'1'' Clinton Portis 223 Willis McGahee 27 Larry Johnson 6
Correll Buckhalter 6'1'' Ladell Betts 223 Fred Jackson 27 Justin Fargas 6
Ryan Grant 6'1'' DeShaun Foster 222 Chris Perry 27 Michael Turner 5
Selvin Young 6'1'' LaDainian Tomlinson 221 Tatum Bell 27 Tatum Bell 5
Kevin Smith 6'1'' Edgerrin James 220 Chris Brown 27 Willie Parker 5
Matt Forte 6'1'' Marion Barber 220 Ronnie Brown 27 Julius Jones 5
Justin Fargas 6'1'' Chris Brown 220 T.J. Duckett 27 Steven Jackson 5
Ahman Green 6'1'' Sammy Morris 220 Julius Jones 27 Earnest Graham 5
Adrian Peterson 6'1'' Laurence Maroney 220 Clinton Portis 27 Chris Perry 4
Pierre Thomas 5'11'' Justin Fargas 220 Michael Turner 26 Jason Wright 4
Laurence Maroney 5'11'' Ryan Grant 218 Jason Wright 26 Marion Barber 4
Chester Taylor 5'11'' Ahman Green 218 Ryan Grant 26 Ronnie Brown 4
Joseph Addai 5'11'' Michael Robinson 218 Brandon Jacobs 26 Brandon Jacobs 4
Tatum Bell 5'11'' DeAngelo Williams 217 Leon Washington 26 Darren Sproles 4
Tashard Choice 5'11'' Adrian Peterson 217 Carnell Williams 26 Frank Gore 4
Jamal Lewis 5'11'' Correll Buckhalter 217 Jerious Norwood 25 Carnell Williams 4
Jonathan Stewart 5'11'' Carnell Williams 217 Dwayne Wright 25 Jerious Norwood 3
Dwayne Wright 5'11'' Maurice Morris 216 DeAngelo Williams 25 DeAngelo Williams 3
Marshawn Lynch 5'11'' Marshawn Lynch 215 Marion Barber 25 Joseph Addai 3
Jerious Norwood 5'11'' Fred Jackson 215 Selvin Young 25 Maurice Jones-Drew 3
Ladell Betts 5'11'' Tashard Choice 215 Joseph Addai 25 Laurence Maroney 3
Clinton Portis 5'11'' Thomas Jones 215 Darren Sproles 25 Reggie Bush 3
Chris Johnson 5'11'' Rudi Johnson 214 Frank Gore 25 Leon Washington 3
Chris Henry 5'11'' Jason Wright 214 Michael Robinson 25 Michael Robinson 3
Carnell Williams 5'11'' Joseph Addai 214 Steven Jackson 25 LenDale White 3
Antonio Pittman 5'11'' Ryan Torain 213 Garrett Wolfe 24 Marshawn Lynch 2
Maurice Morris 5'11'' Tatum Bell 213 Tashard Choice 24 Dwayne Wright 2
Rashard Mendenhall 5'11'' Chester Taylor 213 Pierre Thomas 24 Fred Jackson 2
Julius Jones 5'10'' Brandon Jackson 212 Michael Bush 24 Garrett Wolfe 2
LaDainian Tomlinson 5'10'' Maurice Jones-Drew 212 Lorenzo Booker 24 Selvin Young 2
Willie Parker 5'10'' Kevin Smith 211 Brian Leonard 24 Brandon Jackson 2
Lorenzo Booker 5'10'' Julius Jones 211 LenDale White 24 Ryan Grant 2
Brian Westbrook 5'10'' Adrian Peterson 210 Matt Forte 23 Adrian Peterson 2
LaMont Jordan 5'10'' Selvin Young 210 Brandon Jackson 23 Pierre Thomas 2
Thomas Jones 5'10'' Pierre Thomas 210 Maurice Jones-Drew 23 Ahmad Bradshaw 2
Ricky Williams 5'10'' Willie Parker 209 Adrian Peterson 23 Lorenzo Booker 2
Steve Slaton 5'10'' Ray Rice 205 Laurence Maroney 23 Brian Leonard 2
Brandon Jackson 5'10'' Jamaal Charles 205 Reggie Bush 23 Antonio Pittman 2
Jason Wright 5'10'' Darren McFadden 205 Jacob Hester 23 Chris Henry 2
Rudi Johnson 5'10'' Jerious Norwood 204 Antonio Pittman 23 Michael Bush 1
Adrian Peterson 5'10'' Dominic Rhodes 203 Chris Henry 23 Ray Rice 0
Michael Turner 5'10'' Reggie Bush 203 Chris Johnson 23 Jonathan Stewart 0
Frank Gore 5'9'' Brian Westbrook 203 Marshawn Lynch 22 Matt Forte 0
Dominic Rhodes 5'9'' Leon Washington 202 Ryan Torain 22 Felix Jones 0
Ray Rice 5'9'' Felix Jones 200 Kevin Smith 22 Tashard Choice 0
Ahmad Bradshaw 5'9'' Chris Johnson 200 Steve Slaton 22 Ryan Torain 0
DeAngelo Williams 5'9'' Ahmad Bradshaw 198 Jamaal Charles 22 Kevin Smith 0
Earnest Graham 5'9'' Antonio Pittman 195 Ahmad Bradshaw 22 Steve Slaton 0
Warrick Dunn 5'9'' Lorenzo Booker 191 Ray Rice 21 Jamaal Charles 0
Leon Washington 5'8'' Steve Slaton 190 Jonathan Stewart 21 Darren McFadden 0
Garrett Wolfe 5'7'' Garrett Wolfe 186 Felix Jones 21 Rashard Mendenhall 0
Maurice Jones-Drew 5'7'' Darren Sproles 181 Darren McFadden 21 Jacob Hester 0
Darren Sproles 5'6'' Warrick Dunn 180 Rashard Mendenhall 21 Chris Johnson 0

Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers | Tight Ends

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