NFL positional pecking order: Ranking all 32 RB groups from worst to best
With NFL training camps on the horizon, theScore's football editors rank all 32 teams by their total talent at each major position group. Depth charts are projections of teams' post-training camp rosters.
Next up are rushing groups.
32. Los Angeles Rams
It's Groundhog Day for the Rams as little has changed in their backfield. Cam Akers returns after being placed on the trade block last season. Kyren Williams missed most of his rookie campaign due to injury, and L.A. recently welcomed back Sony Michel for another stint. Rookie Zach Evans has upside as a late-round gem that could spark a listless ground game that averaged 97.7 yards per contest a year ago.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The worst rushing team a year ago, Tampa Bay is optimistic that the team doesn't have to abandon its rushing attack after playing from behind for most of the 2023 season. The Bucs let Leonard Fournette walk in free agency. Slashing halfback Rachaad White will likely receive the bulk of the running load with the offseason addition of Chase Edmonds providing a veteran presence. The rest of TB's depth chart hasn't provided a notable impact.
30. Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals will need to rely on James Conner with quarterback Kyler Murray working his way back from injury. An effective runner when healthy, Conner possesses a nose for the end zone with 22 touchdowns over the past two seasons. Arizona needs more from the rest of the halfback corps to alleviate the pressure off its top back.
29. Chicago Bears
The Bears inked D'Onta Foreman after saying goodbye to David Montgomery. Foreman turned heads with the Panthers last season by posting career highs in carries, yards, and touchdowns. The veteran joins holdover Khalil Herbert, who displayed potential in his second campaign. Chicago could replicate its league-leading 177.3 yards per game average with a group that will also feature rookie Roschon Johnson and Travis Homer.
28. Carolina Panthers
The post-Christian McCaffrey era begins in earnest this fall for the Panthers. The dynamic dual threat leaves big shoes to fill on a roster that is in the midst of a makeover. Miles Sanders aims to prove that there will be no drop-off after posting single-season career highs in yards and TDs with the Eagles last year. Chuba Hubbard posted a league-leading 3.18 efficiency rating (calculated by taking the total distance a player traveled on rushing plays per rushing yards gained). A top-10 ground attack could be the best tool for a Panthers offense as Bryce Young adjusts to life in the league.
27. Washington Commanders
|Brian Robinson Jr.
|Chris Rodriguez Jr.
One of the most inspiring stories from last season was Brian Robinson making his debut with the Commanders after being shot in an armed robbery in August. He'll look to build on the 797 yards he racked up in 12 games. Antonio Gibson was demoted in favor of the rookie but could find redemption next season under new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.
26. Houston Texans
Dameon Pierce was one of the few bright spots on a listless roster. He fell just short of eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark in only 13 outings as a rookie. With head coach DeMeco Ryans taking over the club after leaving the San Francisco 49ers, an emphasis establishing a consistent ground game is expected to be a priority. Devin Singletary and Mike Boone provide veteran support for the second-year star as Houston will attempt to improve on a 86.8 yard per game average in 2022.
25. Buffalo Bills
The Bills are maintaining a tandem approach at running back after the departure of Devin Singletary. Dynamic tailback James Cook, who averaged 5.7 yards per carry, will likely get the first opportunity at the starting role. Former Patriots starter Damien Harris provides early-down experience as well as a good receiving option out of the backfield. Buffalo boasts one of the deepest RB rooms in the league with third-down specialist Nyheim Hines and Latavius Murray both rounding out the group.
24. Miami Dolphins
|Jeff Wilson Jr.
Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. combine to form one of the fastest backfields in the league. The tandem served as a solid duo during Mike McDaniel's coaching debut. Miami bolstered its need for speed by drafting Devon Achane this spring. Former starter Myles Gaskin finds himself looking up after tumbling down the pecking order.
23. Kansas City Chiefs
The reigning champions have a plethora of ball carriers that can step into a starring role. Isiah Pacheco emerged as the feature back while tallying 4.9 yards per tote as a rookie last year. Jerick McKinnon proved to be a steady running mate during KC's title run. Clyde Edwards-Helaire appears to have exhausted his starting opportunities, yet he could serve as an inexpensive insurance policy over a grueling regular season schedule.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers
|Anthony McFarland Jr.
Establishing a balanced attack has put a lot of pressure on the shoulders of feature back Najee Harris. Despite back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns, the Steelers' fanbase is eager for Jaylen Warren's workload to increase in Year 2 after posting 4.9 yards per carry as a rookie. The rest of the tailbacks haven't provided anything more than replacement-level production in limited snaps.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
|Calvin Tyler Jr.
Joe Mixon continues to be the top dog ahead of his seventh year in tiger stripes. The Bengals' RB1 saw his production dip last year following a 2021 Pro Bowl campaign. Rookie Chase Brown is in line to complement Mixon after racking up 1,643 yards and 13 total touchdowns in his final collegiate season. Trayveon Williams is a slasher who could get more snaps following the departure of Samaje Perine.
20. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens' backfield appears to be fully healthy after both J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards dealt with separate ailments. Dobbins paced the group with 562 scrimmage yards a year ago, with Edwards bruising his way to 433 yards. Justice Hill returns as the change of pace to provide the Ravens with adequate depth. It also helps that Lamar Jackson has led the team in rushing each season dating back to 2019.
19. Denver Broncos
|Tony Jones Jr.
Last season didn't go as planned for the Broncos across the field. Javonte Williams is working his way back from a torn ACL that cost him all but four games in 2022. Coach Sean Payton is optimistic that Williams will be healthy enough to split time with new addition Samaje Perine to begin the year. After scoring the fewest points in the league last season, Denver expects its top two backs to lead a limited depth chart by example.
18. Jacksonville Jaguars
Travis Etienne emerged as Jacksonville's top back after the Jaguars parted with James Robinson. Boasting the fourth-highest per carry average by a halfback last season, Etienne surpassed the 1,000-yard threshold in his first full season. Jacksonville drafted Tank Bigsby and signed D'Ernest Johnson to join JaMycal Hasty in lightening Etienne's workload after he accounted for 74% of the team's RB carries a year ago.
17. New England Patriots
|Pierre Strong Jr.
It's a new day in New England. Rhamondre Stevenson is in line to be the bell cow after Damien Harris joined an AFC East rival. The 2021 fourth-rounder is poised to elevate his game after averaging 5.0 YPC and 1,040 yards last season. Pierre Strong Jr. could be next in line after being used sparingly as a rookie a year ago.
16. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings chose to release star Dalvin Cook in June after months of speculation about his status. Alexander Mattison will see an increased role after receiving an extension this offseason. Late-round rookie DeWayne McBride could push Ty Chandler for carries as Minnesota aims to improve on a bottom-five rushing attack a year ago.
15. Philadelphia Eagles
Howie Roseman opted for the two-for-one special on halfbacks instead of re-signing Miles Sanders this offseason. The Eagles acquired D'Andre Swift and signed Rashaad Penny to bolster a ground game that racked up 2,509 yards and 147.6 yards per game. Kenneth Gainwell's snap count could shrink with the new addition, but his nine scores over his first two campaigns can't be overlooked. Philly boasts plenty of candidates that are capable of handling starting reps, including Boston Scott, who was re-signed.
14. New York Jets
It didn't take long for Breece Hall to cement his status as the Jets' starting tailback last season. After suffering a torn ACL, New York is optimistic that the 22-year-old will pick up from where he started in his rookie year. Michael Carter and Zonovan Knight offer adequate depth in a pinch alongside speedy first-year tailback Israel Abanikanda.
13. New Orleans Saints
Alvin Kamara remains key to the Saints' offensive success next season with his dynamic ability to be a playmaker. Yet his yards per carry has been a struggle over the past two seasons. Jamaal Williams dawns the crescent helmet after leading the league in rushing TDs last year. Kamara should benefit with a larger role in the passing game following Williams' addition. Rookie Kendre Miller continues to mend a leg injury that cut his final collegiate season short, but he could push for carries after helping TCU become a national title contender in 2022.
12. Dallas Cowboys
The sun has set on the Ezekiel Elliott era in Dallas. Yet the stellar play of Tony Pollard should have Cowboys fans clicking their spurs after he surpassed 1,007, nine TDs, and 5.2 YPC in a breakout season. Ronald Jones joins the fold as a between-the-tackles runner. The diminutive Deuce Vaughn should contribute on special teams immediately while working into the rotation.
11. Detroit Lions
After establishing a productive ground attack, the Lions parted ways with both of their top rushers from last season. Detroit then plucked former foe David Montgomery in free agency and took a swing on Jahmyr Gibbs in the draft. Montgomery racked up four consecutive campaigns with 1,000 or more scrimmage yards. The engines in the Motor City will continue to roar with the group that includes Craig Reynolds and Jermar Jefferson, who can provide quality reps in limited action.
10. Los Angeles Chargers
|Larry Rountree III
Austin Ekeler appears set to play a swan song in L.A. ahead of free agency next offseason. He led the league with 18 touchdowns and his versatility was once again on display with 843 yards after catch. Joshua Kelley has provided some quality snaps but could face a challenge from Isaiah Spiller.
9. Seattle Seahawks
|Kenneth Walker III
After injuries took a toll on its halfbacks last season, Seattle opted to invest in reinforcements this offseason. Kenneth Walker remains the top back after racking up 1,051 yards and nine scores in his rookie debut. However, the Seahawks drafted both Zach Charbonnet and Kenny McIntosh in an effort to find yet another gem in the backfield. DeeJay Dallas rounds out the group as a third-down back with experience in the offensive system.
8. Las Vegas Raiders
Josh Jacobs secured the rushing title in 2022 by tallying 1,653 yards and sporting a league-best 97.2 yards per game average. The Raiders need someone else to emerge from the Black Hole to bolster its depth with Jacobs' long-term future in Vegas up in the air. Ameer Abdullah and Brandon Bolden provide a veteran presence but had minimal impact with a combined 86 yards last season. Zamir White should be in line to build off his 4.1 YPC in limited action in his rookie campaign.
7. Atlanta Falcons
|Carlos Washington Jr.
The Falcons miraculously developed into one of the league's most consistent run games despite not having a household name in the backfield. Tyler Allgeier started less than half the season but surpassed 1,000 rushing yards. Cordarrelle Patterson received most of the starting reps, leading the team with eight rushing scores. Yet the addition of promising rookie Bijan Robinson has Atlanta poised to replicate (and perhaps exceed) its outstanding numbers from a year ago.
6. New York Giants
Saquon Barkley reminded the rest of the league that he's still capable of being the explosive star he was as a rookie in 2018. Posting 1,650 scrimmage yards to go along with 10 total touchdowns, he helped the Giants clinch their first playoff berth since 2016. Matt Breida remains the next man up, but rookie Eric Gray could be a wild card among a group that will be jockeying for a roster spot in training camp.
5. Tennessee Titans
The Titans' offensive success still relies on the legs of Derrick Henry. After leading the league in rushing yards twice in the past four seasons, Tennessee's road to success remains feeding "King Henry" the rock more often than not. Having led the league in carries in three of the past four seasons, the addition of rookie Tyjae Spears should help his highness remain fresh during a 17-game slate.
4. Green Bay Packers
|Lew Nichols III
With Aaron Rodgers moving his act to Broadway, Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon are set to be the main attractions in Green Bay's offense. Jones isn't ready to call the 2023 campaign a rebuild after posting a career-best 1,121 yards a year ago. The Packers are also optimistic that Dillon can elevate his game to another level as the booming thunder to Jones' lightning.
3. Indianapolis Colts
After leading the league in rushing in 2021, Jonathan Taylor and the Colts' run game took a step back last season. He fell shy of crossing the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his young career, and Indy will attempt to elevate its most reliable offensive weapon next season. Zack Moss emerged as a quality understudy after being acquired in a midseason trade. Deon Jackson's role as a change of pace has steadily increased over the past couple of seasons.
2. Cleveland Browns
|Demetric Felton Jr.
|John Kelly Jr.
Nick Chubb continues to show why some consider him the best back in the league with an impressive 5.2 yards per carry average, four straight 1,000-yard seasons, and no fewer than eight rushing scores in each season. With the departure of Kareem Hunt, the Browns are rolling the dice and hoping that someone on the depth chart can provide their star back with a breather.
1. San Francisco 49ers
Last year's midseason acquisition of Christian McCaffrey elevated the Niners to a new stratosphere. His dual-threat ability as both a runner and receiver out of the backfield provides coach Kyle Shanahan with a unique chess piece that is more than capable of shouldering the bulk of the workload. Elijah Mitchell slides into a supporting role after injuries hampered his stint as the team's starter. Kyle Juszczyk remains the torch bearer for fullbacks in the league.