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Ranking the top 5 power running backs in NFL history

Eric Dickerson had power and speed when running the football
Eric Dickerson had power and speed when running the football
Walter Sharp
ANALYST
Modified 15 Nov 2020, 16:30 IST
Top 5 / Top 10
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The NFL has a good amount of running backs that have fast-break speed. Some say the days of a power running back have passed.

Today's prototype NFL running back is a multi-faceted player who can contribute as a runner and pass-catcher, similar to Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints or Christian McCaffrey of the Carolina Panthers. The big power backs are fewer and farther between, and the fullback position has become almost obsolete.

There's still room for power running backs like Derrick Henry of the Tennessee Titans and Leonard Fournette of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but they're not the norm like they used to be.

Looking back to the NFL's past, these five running backs were not afraid to lower their shoulders and deliver a hit on anyone.


5. John Riggins

John Riggins played running back for the New York Jets and Washington in the 1970's and 1980's. He is known best for his time with Washington and for his hard-charging running style.

Riggins racked up 11,352 rushing yards in his pro career. He rushed for 104 touchdowns. In the 1980's not many running backs caught the football out of the backfield.

Riggins would tally up 2,090 receiving yards in his career and 12 receiving touchdowns. Riggins won many awards while playing for Washington.

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John Riggins would be selected to the NFL Hall of Fame. He made the Pro Bowl and an All-Pro team. Riggins would win a Super Bowl with Washington and be named to the Hall of Fame All-1980's team. Riggins will go down as one of the best running backs to ever play the game.


4. Mike Alstott

Mike Alstott was the power back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Alstott was the last of the power back generation in the NFL. The Buccaneers would use Mike Alstott at the fullback position the majority of the time. As a fullback, Alstott would rack up 5,088 rushing yards.

Alstott would have 58 rushing touchdowns in his NFL career. He also had 2,284 receiving yards in his career and would add 13 receiving touchdowns to his stats.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fullback would win a Super Bowl in his career. He would play in the Pro Bowl six times. The fullback would be selected to three All-Pro teams. Alstott is one of the best fullbacks of the modern era.

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3. Earl Campbell

Earl Campbell played most of his career with the Houston Oilers, plus a brief stint with the New Orleans Saints. Few backs are more synonymous with power running and flattening would-be tacklers in their path.

Campbell would rush for 9,407 yards throughout his career. He would also record 74 rushing touchdowns. Campbell would have 806 receiving yards in his career.

Earl Campbell would receive numerous awards throughout his career. Campbell is in the NFL Hall of Fame and was selected to five Pro Bowls. He would also be named to three All-Pro teams. Campbell would win the NFL MVP award and was named to the Hall of Fame All-1970's team. He would win the Offensive Player of the Year award in 1978, 1979 and 1980. Campbell would also win the 1978 Offensive Rookie of the Year award.


2. Eric Dickerson

Eric Dickerson was every coach's best wish when it came to a running back. He was equipped with both speed and power while running the football.

During his NFL career -- spent with the Rams, Colts, Raiders and Falcons -- Dickerson would rush for 13,259 yards. He would add 90 rushing touchdowns. Dickerson would have 2,137 receiving yards and six receiving touchdowns during his NFL career.

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One thing that stood out with Dickerson is once he got past the first level of defenders it was almost impossible to bring him down.

During his NFL career Eric Dickerson would win many awards. Dickerson would win the 1983 Offensive Rookie of the Year award. He would also win the 1986 Offensive Player of the Year award and be named to the Hall of Fame All-1980's team. Eric Dickerson is in the NFL Hall of Fame and has made six Pro Bowls and five All-Pro teams.


1. Jim Brown

Jim Brown is the best running back to ever wear a Cleveland Browns uniform. Many would argue that he's the best running back to ever play the game, period, and some even rank him as the best overall NFL player in history.

Brown had many successful seasons while playing running back for the Cleveland Browns. He would rack up 12,312 rushing yards in his career, No. 1 in history when he retired (others have since passed him). He would add 106 rushing touchdowns to his career stats.

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Brown was also a contributor in their passing game. He would tally up 2,499 receiving yards and 20 receiving touchdowns. This would be amazing stat totals for the running back because in is era it was almost unheard of for running backs to catch the football.

Jim Brown would win a large amount of awards while playing in the NFL. Brown would win the MVP award three times. He made it to nine Pro Bowls and was named to eight All-Pro teams. Brown was named the 1957 Offensive Player of the Year and the Hall of Fame All-1960's team. Jim Brown won the NFL Championship once and the 1963 Bert Bell award. The best accomplishment for Jim Brown was being named an NFL Hall of Famer.

Published 15 Nov 2020, 16:30 IST
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