The NFL season has been gone for too long, and the suspense surrounding the start of the 2021 NFL season is rapidly increasing. One of the things everyone loves to do to help pass the time of the long NFL offseason is projecting who the best at each position will be and creating tier lists of the best players.
Today, we will be doing the same as we break down who the five best running backs are as we prepare to enter the 2021 NFL season.
5. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns
Nick Chubb doesn’t get mentioned among the best running backs in the league as often as he should be, and I’m here to try to change that narrative. He completely revamped the once dreadful Cleveland backfield and has turned it into an area of strength on the team.
Chubb has an excellent combination of burst and power in his running style and it has allowed him to pretty much reach the 1,000-yard plateau all three years of his career. In 2020, Chubb ran the rock 190 times for 1,067 rushing yards (5.6 yards per carry) and scored 12 times on the ground. He checks in at number five on our top five NFL running backs list for the time being.
4. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
Dalvin Cook, much like Chubb, doesn’t get talked about enough as one of the best backs in the league and he deserves more credit as a top five running back in the NFL. Cook, 25, has given the Minnesota Vikings a mainstay at the running back position and he has put up elite numbers out of the backfield.
Minnesota hasn’t had a formidable offensive line throughout Cook’s career, which makes his numbers even more impressive. In 2020, Cook ran the ball 312 times for 1,557 rushing yards (5.0 yards per carry) and scored 16 rushing touchdowns. He is the fourth best back on my list, but he certainly has the potential to shoot up this list in 2021.
3. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers
The last three running backs on my list all have one thing in common, which is that they have the ability to completely dominate a game and take over in every aspect. Christian McCaffrey is one of the best running backs in the league, and there’s no legitimate discussion that he doesn’t belong in the top three of any list when he’s healthy.
McCaffrey, when he’s healthy, is a top two receiving back in the NFL and he can torch teams through the air or on the ground. He has given life to one of the most stagnant offenses in the NFL, and he could look to do the same in 2021. CMC spent the majority of the 2021 season on injured reserve, but when he comes back, it’ll be exciting to witness.
2. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
Alvin Kamara could legitimately be considered the best running back in the NFL, but I’ll keep him at the number two spot for now. Kamara, 25, is arguably the best receiving back in the NFL and he has emerged into the ultimate backfield weapon for the New Orleans Saints.
The Saints have never had a hard time finding talent to fill out their backfield, but everyone can agree that they may have never had a running back as good as Kamara. He has made the Pro Bowl all four years of his career without ever rushing for 1,000 yards simply because of his overall ability out of the backfield.
Kamara, in 2020, ran the rock 187 times for 932 rushing yards, and scored 16 touchdowns on the ground. He also hauled in 83 receptions for 756 yards and scored an additional five receiving touchdowns.
1. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
Derrick Henry is the best running back in the NFL and it’s really not even close. If you look at pure rushing backs, Henry may be the best running back the NFL has seen in the past decade. He has the ability to completely take over a game out of the backfield, and he pretty much does it all solely by running with the ball.
Henry is a physical freak of nature, which has allowed him to lead the league in rushing in each of the past two seasons and rush for over 1,000 yards three times in his five NFL seasons. In 2020, Henry ran the ball 378 times for 2,027 rushing yards and scored a whopping 17 rushing touchdowns.