What's this? A post that in no way has to do with the NFL labor situation?
ESPN.com put together a list of the NFL's top running backs yesterday, ranking the group based on the thoughts of their eight division bloggers.
Sounds about right, from my perspective. Rice is not yet among the elite, game-changing backs, but it's nice to see him recognized as one of the better guys in the NFL at his position.
The one factor that I think people outside of the Baltimore area might not fully recognize is that Rice is one of the top - if not absolutely the top - running backs in the league when it comes to catching the ball out of the backfield.
His receiving ability adds a dimension to the Ravens' offense which is tough to contain, and Rice has burned quite a few defenses when they've made the mistake of giving him too much room in the passing game.
Here's how ESPN's top 10 shapes up, with the total number of votes listed after the player's team name:
1. Chris Johnson, Titans, 76
2. Adrian Peterson, Vikings, 75
3a. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars, 47
3b. Arian Foster, Texans, 47
5. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs, 44
6. Michael Turner, Falcons, 40
7. Steven Jackson, Rams, 39
8. Ray Rice, Ravens, 31
9. Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers, 14
10. Frank Gore, 49ers, 7
10. LeSean McCoy, Eagles, 7
10. Darren McFadden, Raiders, 7
Personally, I don't have any real problem with the way the list shapes up, but I would slot Charles in above Foster and have the Chiefs' back in the 3b/4 slot.
Foster had the one exceptional year in 2010, but I'd need to see a little more of him to put him above Charles, who has had two straight very impressive seasons, and whose speed can take over a game.
It's also a little shocking to see Gore down so low on the list, although it's hard to argue that he should be placed any higher. When healthy, Gore is, in my estimation, a top-5 back, but therein lies the rub - he can't seem to stay healthy.
What are your thoughts on the list?
Should Rice be higher? Lower? Are there any other players that you feel deserve are inaccurately placed on that list?