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New Era Scouting ranks the NFL� s Top Secondary Runners


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Each week the New Era staff will break down a top ten list. This week Matt Miller, Dave Gardner, and Luke Chandler look at the NFL s top secondary running backs.

The NFL s transition over the past decade to backs by committee style of running game has opened up fans eyes to the diversity of backs in the league. No longer just the traditional thunder and lightning type duos of years past, running back committees are diverse. They allow a team to run multiple plays out of base formations. If you have one running back on the field who can run or catch the ball, it can be difficult for defensive coordinators to track them. Now, teams will often deplore two all purpose backs on the field at once, making things even more difficult.

The traditional third down back is becoming a valuable weapon, both as a decoy and an offensive threat. A back needs to be able to not only run and catch, but block also. All of the backs listed here are used in multiple ways, even lining up as fullbacks or slot receivers. Outside of Betts, Graham, Taylor, and Watson; the other backs on this list have three years or less experience in the NFL. Some have yet to tap their potential, such as Bush, Norwood, and Young. All in all though, these players are vital cogs to their team s offensive dominance. With that in mind, David Gardner, Matt Miller and Luke Chandler sit down to discuss the top secondary runners in the NFL.


1 Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville

2. Reggie Bush, New Orleans

3. Earnest Graham, Tampa Bay

4. Ladell Betts, Washington

5. Chester Taylor, Minnesota

6. Kenny Watson, Cincinnati

7. Selvin Young, Denver

8. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants

9. Kolby Smith, Kansas City

10. Jerious Norwood, Atlanta Falcons (53)

DG: Jerious Norwood will have more chances to see the field this season, as Michael Turner has never carried the load full time in the NFL. He will need a good back to spell him, and he has one in Norwood. His numbers albeit in limited appearances are mind-boggling. His rushing numbers are nearly identical in his two season, and he has averaged 6.2 yards per carry. He also improved as a pass-catcher this season. Offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey will put Norwood on the field as often as he can, so expect a huge boost in his numbers this season. I think he ll be regarded as a top-3 third-down back by the time the 2008 season has concluded.

MM: Expect to see Norwood used more as a return man and even a slot receiver in 2008. He still has value as a runner, but the addition of Michael Turner could move him down the depth chart. He s an exciting young player, but he must first master the playbook.

LC: Based more on potential, Norwood represents a potential homerrun threat every time he touches the ball. His touches had been limited his first two seasons due to trouble picking up the blitz in pass protection, but he was improved by season s end. His career average of 6.2 yards per carry is only tipping the iceberg of what Norwood can do. He also improved as a receiver last season, and is expected to be used more in that role. His ability to make yards after the catch will be a huge asset to Atlanta s offense.


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1 Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville

2. Earnest Graham, Tampa Bay

3. Chester Taylor, Minnesota

 4. Jerious Norwood, Atlanta

5. Ladell Betts, Washington

6. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants

7. Reggie Bush, New Orleans

8. Kenny Watson, Cincinnati

9. Kolby Smith, Kansas City

10. Selvin Young, Denver

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1 Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville- i agree

2. Reggie Bush, New Orleans- overrated, id put chester in front

3. Earnest Graham, Tampa Bay- id put him at 2, but hes a starter not second RB

4. Ladell Betts, Washington- hes very solid but not above chester

5. Chester Taylor, Minnesota- hes good

6. Kenny Watson, Cincinnati- not sure how hes all the way up here

7. Selvin Young, Denver- again, hes a starter. and hes very good especially in denvers running system

8. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants- hes good

9. Kolby Smith, Kansas City- dont know much about this guy

if I had to rate them, i would take out graham and selvin since theyre starters and put norwood at 5 ... after mojo, chester, ladell, bush(overrated but hes still very talented and he WILL get better especially when hes sharing time with duece), then NORWOOD

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A couple of these guys took stabs at why Norwood has

seen limited duty so far. One said he couldn't learn the

playbook but he didn't quote anybody, he just made it up.

The other said it was because he couldn't pick up blitzers

and he didn't offer to quote anybody either, he just assumed

something had to be wrong with Norwood. Or, he got it from

some of the geniuses on this board. I have maintained that

it was coaching stupidity and I am sticking to it. Norwood is

an excellent football player.

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Bush is below average as a primary RB. He simply cannot understand how to get up field and stop dancing around, maybe he is afraid of getting hit, I don't know. However, getting him open in the flats, slot, or running reverses he is one of the best out there. As I said though, you just don't want him being your primary RB... which is why he is overrated. Your 1st round all world RB shouldn't be just a good 3rd down back.

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