This got me thinking: What defines the NFL’s best RB? The traits and characteristics I came up with are: production (statistically consistent), vision, elusiveness, break-tackle ability, catch ability, talent level on respective team (i.e. how good the team’s offensive line is, as well as the ability of the QB and other skilled positions) and finally, the eye-test.
After browsing through all of the starting running backs, as well as other backs who make significant contributions to their respective teams (e.g. Giovani Bernard, Shane Vereen, etc.), there are only two running backs who could realistically challenge McCoy for the top spot. A few guys came close: Marshawn Lynch, Matt Forte and Arian Foster to name a few. Yet each of these players has at least one big flaw in their characteristics.
Two players belong in the same discussion as McCoy: Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles. It is almost impossible to decipher who the best is out of McCoy, Peterson and Charles. No, Peterson does not have the best talent level on his team, the Minnesota Vikings. No, the Kansas City Chiefs do not have the best offensive line in NFL. Nevertheless, both players more than make up for their teams’ deficiencies as a result of the other traits they both possess.
However, after breaking down both Peterson and Charles, I will give the very slight edge to McCoy. He possesses all of the traits and characteristics discussed above, and he is coming off a season where he rushed for a career high 1,607 yards. At the age of 25 and with a career average of 4.8 yards/carry, he is just entering his prime. McCoy has the talent on his team to help take some wear-and-tear away and keep him fresh, as well as a top-5 offensive line in the NFL.
The eye-test for McCoy may be the only argument needed to determine whether he is the best, as he has been frequently compared to the great Barry Sanders because of the way he eludes defenders. McCoy may not be the best RB in the league by a wide margin, but could he be the best RB in the NFL today?