I have long been of the belief that when a rookie running back comes out and shreds it in his first game, that means he’s going to be good. I remember seeing it way back when with guys like Earl Campbell, Ottis Anderson, Billy Sims and Curt Warner. With running backs, if they can do it, it’s often apparent in that very first game.
So count me among those on board with Leonard Fournette, Kareem Hunt and Dalvin Cook. They will make their mark on the NFL landscape.
Fournette is slightly different than the other two, in that he’s coming in with huge expectations. He was a No. 4 overall pick – expected to be a difference maker. The others were chosen in the second and third rounds, where there’s more a hope of good play. That’s the difference with being a top-10 pick.
So far, so good.
In the last 25 years, 25 running backs have been chosen with top-10 picks. Of the ones that ran for 100-plus yards in their first game, all but one went on to put together Hall of Fame type careers – Marshall Faulk, Edgerrin James, LaDainian Tomlinson and Adrian Peterson all were megastars. Only expectation in the group is Cadillac Williams, who had a brilliant opener in his debut at the Metrodome but was never quite the same after a knee injury.
|RUNNING BACKS CHOSEN WITH TOP-10 PICKS|
|1993||Garrison Hearst, Ariz.||at Phi.||3||0||3||0|
|1993||Jerome Bettis, Rams||at G.B.||24||6||30||0|
|1994||Marshall Faulk, Ind.||Hou.||143||31||174||3|
|1995||Ki-Jana Carter, Cin.||*at St.L.||14||22||36||0|
|1996||Lawrence Phillips, St.L.||Cin.||46||0||46||2|
|1996||Tim Biakabutuka, Car.||Atl.||69||0||69||0|
|1998||Curtis Enis, Chi.||Jac.||77||7||84||0|
|1998||Fred Taylor, Jac.||at Chi.||2||0||2||0|
|1999||Edgerrin James, Ind.||Buff.||112||14||126||1|
|1999||Ricky Williams, N.O.||Car.||40||0||40||0|
|2000||Jamal Lewis, Balt.||at Pit.||16||0||16||0|
|2000||Thomas Jones, Ariz.||at NYG||16||18||34||0|
|2001||LaDainian Tomlinson, S.D.||Wash.||113||12||125||2|
|2005||Ronnie Brown, Mia.||Den.||57||4||61||0|
|2005||Cedric Benson, Chi.||at Was.||10||0||10||0|
|2005||Cadillac Williams, T.B.||at Min.||148||0||148||1|
|2006||Reggie Bush, N.O.||at Cle.||67||52||119||0|
|2007||Adrian Peterson, Minn.||Atl.||103||60||163||1|
|2008||Darren McFadden, Oak.||Den.||46||11||57||0|
|2010||C.J. Spiller, Buff.||Mia.||6||8||14||0|
|2012||Trent Richardson, Clev.||Phil.||39||5||44||0|
|2015||Todd Gurley, St.L.||Pitt.||9||5||14||0|
|2016||Ezekiel Elliott, Dall.||NYG||51||1||52||1|
|2017||Leonard Fournette, Jac.||at Hou.||100||24||124||1|
|2017||Christian McCaffrey, Car.||at S.F.||47||38||85||0|