Over the years, the NFL running back position has evolved tremendously, going from simply running up the middle of every play to being able to catch a screen pass behind the line of scrimmage and taking off. Since the change to a pass-heavy league, the amount of elite-level running backs has dropped.
Taking injuries into consideration, this list will consist of the most elite talent in the running back position in the NFL in no specific order. All of these players make a pass-heavy offense seem obsolete in comparison to the way they can run the ball down the field.
The king himself, Derrick Henry, was drafted into the league in 2016 to the Tennessee Titans. Since that draft day, King Henry has grown into an unstoppable force on the field. Henry’s best year was in 2019, where he racked up over 2,000 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns.
In 2020 Henry would start off the year great, rushing for 937 yards with 10 touchdowns to go along with those yards. Sadly in October, Henry would suffer a foot injury and be out until the very last game of the season. Though this injury was a setback for the king, there’s no denying that he is one of the elites in the league.
Fans know that when King Henry is on the NFL field, it changes the way the defense can approach the game compared to other teams where the running back position doesn’t need to be stressed over too much.
In the absence of Derrick Henry in the 2021 NFL season, a newer NFL running back took the mantle of being an unstoppable force when handed off the ball. Jonathan Taylor came onto the scene last year, showing he could be an elite-level talent at the running back position.
Drafted to the Indianapolis Colts in 2020, Taylor wasted no time adjusting to the league from college and in his NFL rookie year, rushed for over a thousand yards. In Taylor’s second year in the NFL, the Colts gave him the ball a lot more and allowed him to go to work.
Taylor would almost double his stats from the season before putting up 1811 yards and 18 touchdowns on the season. Cementing himself as one of the most dominant running backs the league has to offer at the moment.
One running back that has been on the rise is Austin Ekeler. Ekeler had a solid 2021 season and has only continued to improve in the league for the time he has been in it. In 2021 Ekeler ran for 911 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.
Although Ekeler hasn’t gotten a chance to fully prove himself as an elite level running back in the league. Fans can see the potential and the skill Ekeler has now will help the Chargers in making the playoffs.