JORDAN Howard, Dalvin Cook, Leonard Fournette, Devontae Booker, Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott, Karem Hunt, Derrick Henry, C.J. Prosise, Joe Mixon. Remember those names. Those running backs and their draft peers in the backfield have established that there is a new age being rushed (pun intended) into the NFL and 2017 could be the year they capture the collective attention of the footballing world.
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THE first week of the season saw plenty of fresh faced rooks seize their opportunity in front of them and clock up serious yardage. Three of the five players to rush for 100 or more yards were making their pro debut, with Kareem Hunt (148), Dalvin Cook (127) and Leonard Fournette (100) all helping to set up a W for their respective squads.
TARIK Cohen managed 66 yards on just five carries while No. 8 overall pick Christian McCaffrey had the 16th most rushing yards from limited opportunities to carry the rock. Most of these players were expected to play a big role in their team’s success this season but no expected them to have such a profound impact so early on in the season.
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THIS should come as no surprise to us, I mean, we aren’t even a season removed from two first year players leading the league in rushing yards. Both Ezekiel Elliott (1,631) and Jordan Howard (1,313) owned the two highest totals for yards on the ground last season ahead of the likes of Le’Veon Bell, LeSean McCoy, DeMarco Murray, Jay Ajayi. Throw in the likes of up and comers Devontae Booker, Paul Perkins, C.J. Prosise and Derrick Henry all starting for their squads or being groomed to one day take the reign of the running game for their team.
AND of course, we can’t forget the 2015 draft class. With a little of 30 total NFL games on their resumes Melvin Gordon, Jay Ajayi, David Johnson and Todd Gurley are stars of the NFL that seems destined to help spearhead the rebirth of the running back as they team up with the past few draft classes to take over the ‘passing game’ that is seen in modern football today and wrestle back some excitement around the ground game.
ELDER statesman like Adrian Peterson, LeGarrette Blount, LeSean McCoy, Jonathan Stewart and Chris Ivory aren’t going to be reeling off too many more games of 100+ yards, so it’s expected that generation next are working their way up depth charts league wide. No disrespect to the likes of Le’Veon Bell and others at the top of the RB food chain, I for one am looking forward to seeing which player or two emerge in the coming seasons as the best back in the league. Ezekiel Elliot looks like a special talent but don’t be surprised if one of these rooks emerges as a worthy candidate after their next 15 games.
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