The ranking of running backs is always difficult; it is even more so in a division so stacked with talent such as NFC South. Let’s try and rank the Carolina Panthers and their opponents.
After pass-catching backs took the league by storm, the value of the running back position skyrocketed. Just look at recent drafts. Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey were taken fourth and eighth overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. This year, Saquon Barkley, Rashaad Penny, and Sony Michel were each taken second, 27th, and 31st. With the rising value of running backs, let’s look at how they rank within the NFC South.
These ranks are based on two metrics: The running backs (obviously) and their coaches.
1. New Orleans Saints: Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram II
Let’s not get cute. The reigning Rookie of the Year’s shifty style keeps defensive coordinators awake at night. Additionally, there’s no linebacker core that can cover him, not even the Carolina Panther’s elite linebacker squad. Don’t believe me? Watch this.
Add in the fact that he’s complemented by a legit, workhorse back in Mark Ingram II, and there’s one heck of a duo. Ingram is a legit power back that specializes in cashing in the end zone.
Finally, there’s their head coach, Sean Payton. He’s an offensive mastermind with a Super Bowl ring. He’s often overlooked in a league with a lot of great young, offensive minds such as Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan. However, make no mistake, Sean Payton is an elite offensive mind.
2. Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey and C.J. Anderson
While the Carolina Panthers offense lives and dies by No. 1, they have vowed to relieve some of that pressure. McCaffrey was drafted to be the do-it-all back. He’s barely large enough to be usable on third-and-short. He is shifty and fast enough to be a breakaway threat in the open field. Finally, he is a complete mismatch in the passing game due to his incredibly soft hands.
Next up there’s C.J. Anderson. He’s a powerful back, and he’s hunting for a new contract. A bruising back, he’ll bring the boom where McCaffrey is unable to. A vastly underappreciated aspect of Anderson‘s game though is his ability to block for the quarterback. He can easily pick up blitzing linebackers/cornerbacks and help out weaker offensive tackles.
Then there’s Norv Turner, the offensive mastermind that led the Dallas Cowboys to one of the greatest sports dynasties ever known. Expectations are high for Turner as he has had huge success with running backs such as Darren Sproles, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Emmit Smith.
3. Atlanta Falcons: Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman
YOU CAN ALL BLAME STEVE SARKISIAN FOR THIS RUNNING BACK DUOS’ RANKING!
Seriously, the football world witnessed this duo slice through defenses during the 2017 season. Tevin Coleman is a running back that relies more on size than speed, but he has the perfect backfield partner in Devonta Freeman.
Devonta Freeman completely annihilates defenses with his elite speed. Even though he has an average build, he is top-heavy. That top-heavy body build is perfect for the style of running he likes to employ: great vision with quick feet, but enough power to bring a heavy boom. If the Super Bowl only had three quarters, he might even be a Super Bowl MVP. But, you know, there’s the freaking cyborg that’s #12 in New England.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Peyton Barber (Who?)
There’s zero direction in Tampa right now. Their entire coaching staff is on some of the hottest seats in the league. They even cut Doug Martin, who could have been the answer at the position given another year.
Honestly, there’s no analysis to make on Peyton Barber because quite frankly, I couldn’t find enough film. With so little on their #1 running back, at least according to ESPN, and such a weak coaching staff, it’s easy to see why Tampa’s running back core is the weakest in the NFC South.