Fred Taylor (Getty Images)
The AFC South features some of the best running backs in the NFL, and our top three are pretty much interchangeable. JagNation takes a closer look at who the best ball carriers in the division are.
1. Fred Taylor, Jacksonville Jaguars- Although Taylor is 32 years old, he has the body of a 25-year old and he shows no signs of stopping any time soon. Taylor is one of the most explosive backs in the NFL, and he can run over or around nearly every defensive back in the league. Taylor put up better than 1200 yards a year ago while splitting carries with Jones-Drew.
Positives: Cut-back ability, speed, power, blitz pickup.
Limitations: Injuries, short yardage running, hands.
2. Joseph Addai, Indianapolis Colts- Indianapolis’ young running back seemingly does everything well, and he is a legitimate game breaker who earned a Pro Bowl spot in just his second season. Addai’s stats may suffer a bit in 2008, as the Colts signed Rhodes to spell him as he did when Addai was a rookie.
Positives: Speed, power, hands, blocking.
Limitations: Running between the tackles.
3. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars- The Jaguars “pinball” is one of the most exciting players in the league as he has speed and power, and his north-south running style is a great compliment to Fred Taylor. The 5’7”, 210 lb. powder keg is a touchdown maker who has been in the end zone 29 times in his first two seasons.
Positives: Power, speed, blitz pickup, short yardage.
Limitations: Size to carry the entire load is a question.
4. Lendale White, Tennessee Titans- White is the power back that the Titans have been missing ever since the departure of Eddie George. Lendale had a breakout year in 2007 as he gained better than 1100 yards and scored seven touchdowns.
Positives: Power to run between the tackles, good short yardage back, quick feet, can shed tacklers, solid blocker.
Limitations: Outside burst, hands.
5. Ahman Green, Houston Texans- Ahman Green has been an explosive runner throughout his career, but injuries have kept him from being mentioned with the league’s elite. Green played in just six games with the Texans last season and gained just 260 yards.
Positives: Hands, patience, can run inside or outside.
Limitations: Injuries, blocking ability.
6. Dominic Rhodes, Indianapolis Colts- Rhodes re-signed with the Colts after spending a year in Oakland, and will platoon with Joseph Addai in the Indianapolis backfield. Rhodes is an underrated back who is a very good compliment to any star runner.
Positives: Blitz pickup, good inside runner.
Limitations: Not a home run type of back, can’t be the featured guy.
7. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans- Johnson should make an impact as a rookie with the Titans as he was the fastest running back in the entire 2008 draft. Johnson can be a Brian Westbrook type of back who can be used in space, as he possesses great hands.
Positives: Speed, home run ability, hands.
Limitations: Level of competition in college, blocking, inside running.
Honorable mentions: Chris Henry, Tennessee Titans; Chris Brown, Houston Texans; Kenton Keith, Indianapolis Colts, D.D. Terry, Jacksonville Jaguars.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of JagNation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, MySpace Sports and Sportsillustrated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.
For more, go to: JagNation.com