The ground game had a bit of a revival in the National Football League this past season. A total of 16 players ran for at least 1,000 yards in 2022, led by Las Vegas Raiders’ standout Josh Jacobs (1,653). Consider that only seven players reached the 1,000-yard rushing mark one year earlier. Perhaps it’s no surprise that Jacobs (Raiders) (Jacobs), Tony Pollard (Cowboys) and Saquon Barkley (Giants) were given the “franchise” tag before free agency began.
The NFL draft just around the corner, however there is still some talent available at the running back spot (as well as other positions). A look at some of the top names still on the open market.
5. Leonard Fournette (Released by Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
It seems like running back Leonard Fournette has been around longer than six seasons. The fourth overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft by the Jaguars spent three seasons in Jacksonville and the past three years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The former LSU standout has played in 79 regular-season games and racked up 6,697 total yards from scrimmage and reached the end zone 41 times. The real beauty in terms of Fournette has been his performance in the playoffs. Nine postseason outings has seen him amass an impressive 858 scrimmage yards and 10 touchdowns.
4. Kenyan Drake (Baltimore Ravens)
He’s been a productive performer where he has hung his helmet. Kenyan Drake’s NFL career began with the Miami Dolphins via a third-round pick in 2016. After three-plus seasons in South Florida, he was dealt to the Arizona Cardinals.
He spent 2021 with the Raiders and a year ago finished third in rushing yards (482) for the Baltimore Ravens behind Lamar Jackson (764) and J.K. Dobbins (520). Drake tied for the team lead in total touchdown (5). In seven NFL seasons with four clubs has totaled a respectable 5,490 yards from scrimmage and 41 total TD.
3. Jerick McKinnon (Kansas City Chiefs)
After four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings from 2014-17, running back Jerick McKinnon inked a four-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers. Injuries caused him to miss both the 2018 and ’19 seasons before finally taking the field for Kyle Shanahan’s club in 2020.
He joined the Chiefs the following season. After seeing limited action in his first year with Andy Reid’s club, the versatile performer was a vital part of the Kansas City passing attack in ‘22. McKinnon finished with a career-best 56 catches and nine TD grabs, while also running for 291 yards and one touchdown.
Ep 119: Patrick Mahomes' Top 5 List
by Full Press Coverage on May 27, 2023 at 7:49 pm
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2. Kareem Hunt (Cleveland Browns)
There’s been talk that one of the fastest running backs in the league may be slowing down. Reliable Nick Chubb totaled 302 carries for 1,525 yards and 12 scores for the Cleveland Browns this past season. Meanwhile, that didn’t leave a lot of work for Kareem Hunt.
When he got his chance, he had 123 attempts for 468 yards and three scores. It was a somewhat-disappointing 3.8 yards per carry. Hunt finished fourth on his team with 35 catches, but totaled only 210 yards (6.0 average) and one touchdown. You have to think that the talented Hunt is worth kicking the tires on.
1. Ezekiel Elliott (Released by Dallas Cowboys)
He led the NFL in rushing yards two of his first three seasons in the league. The former Ohio State University standout rolled up 1,300-plus yards on the ground in three of his first four NFL campaigns. However, former Dallas Cowboys’ running back Ezekiel Elliott took a back seat to teammate Tony Pollard this past season.
The organization slapped the franchise tag on the latter and Dallas showed Elliott the door. Both players scored a dozen touchdowns in 2022. Elliott’s regular-season resume includes 10,598 yards from scrimmage and 80 touchdowns in 103 outings.
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