2019 Rookie Running Backs And The Rookie Records

Today I look at the 2019 rookie running backs and which ones have the best potential to achieve rookie rushing records.

Rushing Attempts

Eric Dickerson holds the rookie rushing attempts record with 390 attempts in 1983 on the Rams. Alfred Morris (335 attempts) and Ezekiel Elliot (332 attempts) are the only active players in the top ten for rookie rushing attempts. Here are the top ten rookie rushing attempts.

Rk Player Year Age Tm G GS Att Yds Y/A TD Y/G
1 Eric Dickerson* 1983 23 RAM 16 16 390 1808 4.64 18 113
2 George Rogers 1981 23 NOR 16 16 378 1674 4.43 13 104.6
3 Edgerrin James 1999 21 IND 16 16 369 1553 4.21 13 97.1
4 Curtis Martin* 1995 22 NWE 16 15 368 1487 4.04 14 92.9
5 LaDainian Tomlinson* 2001 22 SDG 16 16 339 1236 3.65 10 77.3
6 Eddie George 1996 23 HOU 16 16 335 1368 4.08 8 85.5
7 Alfred Morris 2012 24 WAS 16 16 335 1613 4.81 13 100.8
8 Curt Warner 1983 22 SEA 16 16 335 1449 4.33 13 90.6
9 Ottis Anderson 1979 22 STL 16 16 331 1605 4.85 8 100.3
10 Ezekiel Elliott 2016 21 DAL 15 15 322 1631 5.07 15 108.7

 

Alexander Mattison had the highest attempts with 302 in 2018. However Devin Singletary was one below that in 2017 and Singletary repeated in the top eight with 261 in 2018. Benny Snell is another top eight repeater with numbers close to Singletary.

A list of the top 100 teams for rushing attempts per season over the last five seasons has Buffalo as the only team in the list five times. Plus their average position in the list is the second lowest (most attempts) for teams with multiple appearances. They like to run the ball. That coupled with Singletary’s rank in college attempts makes Singletary my choice for most rookie rushing attempts with 205. He would not break the top ten. This is assuming he can win the starting running back position. More on that in the next statistic. Here are the top ten 2019 rookies for college rushing attempts.

Rk Player Year Class School G Att Yds Avg TD
11 Alexander Mattison 2018 JR Boise State MIN 13 302 1415 4.7 17
13 Devin Singletary 2017 SO Florida Atlantic BUF 14 301 1918 6.4 32
23 Benjamin Snell Jr. 2018 JR Kentucky PIT 13 289 1449 5 16
41 Trayveon Williams 2018 JR Texas A&M CIN 13 271 1760 6.5 18
44 Justice Hill 2017 SO Oklahoma State BAL 13 268 1467 5.5 15
51 Bryce Love 2017 JR Stanford WAS 13 263 2118 8.1 19
55 Benjamin Snell Jr. 2017 SO Kentucky PIT 13 262 1333 5.1 19
57 Devin Singletary 2018 JR Florida Atlantic BUF 12 261 1348 5.2 22
61 Myles Gaskin 2018 SR Washington MIA 12 259 1268 4.9 12
63 David Montgomery 2017 SO Iowa State CHI 13 258 1146 4.4 11
65 David Montgomery 2018 JR Iowa State CHI 12 257 1216 4.7 13
66 Alex Barnes 2018 JR Kansas State TEN 12 256 1355 5.3 12
95 Nick Brossette 2018 SR Louisiana State NWE 13 240 1039 4.3 14

Rushing Yards

Eric Dickerson holds the rookie rushing yards record with 1,808 yards in 1983 on the Rams. The second place rusher is 134 yards less.

Rk Player Year Age Tm G GS Att Yds Y/A TD Y/G
1 Eric Dickerson* 1983 23 RAM 16 16 390 1808 4.64 18 113
2 George Rogers 1981 23 NOR 16 16 378 1674 4.43 13 104.6
3 Ezekiel Elliott 2016 21 DAL 15 15 322 1631 5.07 15 108.7
4 Alfred Morris 2012 24 WAS 16 16 335 1613 4.81 13 100.8
5 Ottis Anderson 1979 22 STL 16 16 331 1605 4.85 8 100.3
6 Edgerrin James 1999 21 IND 16 16 369 1553 4.21 13 97.1
7 Clinton Portis 2002 21 DEN 16 12 273 1508 5.52 15 94.3
8 Mike Anderson 2000 27 DEN 16 12 297 1487 5.01 15 92.9
9 Curtis Martin* 1995 22 NWE 16 15 368 1487 4.04 14 92.9
10 Barry Sanders* 1989 21 DET 15 13 280 1470 5.25 14 98

The lead rookie rusher Bryce Love had 2,118 yards in 2017.  That was second in the FBS that year. Love is currently on the Non-Football Injury list and is not practicing with the team.

The next leading 2019 rookie rusher is Buffalo’s Devin Singletary for the 1,918 yards he rushed for in 2017. That was fourth in the FBS that year. His 1,348 yards in 2018 was eleventh last year.  Singletary is one of only three 2019 rookies to have rushed for 1000+ yards in three years in college. The other two are Benjamin Snell and Myles Gaskin.

Last year’s snap counts had Buffalo’s LeSean McCoy in on 46% of the offensive snaps. In Miami Frank Gore was in on 36% of the snaps. McCoy’s average of 3.2 yards was the lowest of his ten year career. Frank Gore had a 4.6 yard average which was fifth best of his 14 year career. However he only had 722 yards, the second lowest of his career. His 156 rushing attempts was 24th among 32 backs that started 8+ games.

Singletary has been seeing plenty of first-team reps in training camp. He appears to be the most dynamic back with the best opportunity to see significant carries in 2019. I project Singletary to lead the 2019 rookies in rushing yards with 1,000+ yards but not break the top ten rookie records. Maybe he will come in around 1,100 yards rushing.

If Singletary does not get enough carries due to a crowded backfield the next candidate is David Montgomery on the Bears. It looks like Montgomery would be the number one back in Chicago. Montgomery rushed for 1000+ yards two of his college seasons with 1,216 in 2018 and 1,146 in 2017.

Here are the top 2019 rookie running backs in college rushing yards.

Rk Player Year Class School 2019 Team G Att Yds Avg TD
5 Bryce Love 2017 JR Stanford WAS 13 263 2118 8.1 19
10 Devin Singletary 2017 SO Florida Atlantic BUF 14 301 1918 6.4 32
11 Darrell Henderson 2018 JR Memphis LAR 13 214 1909 8.9 22
16 Trayveon Williams 2018 JR Texas A&M CIN 13 271 1760 6.5 18
59 Justice Hill 2017 SO Oklahoma State BAL 13 268 1467 5.5 15
62 Benjamin Snell Jr. 2018 JR Kentucky PIT 13 289 1449 5 16
68 Alexander Mattison 2018 JR Boise State MIN 13 302 1415 4.7 17
75 Jalin Moore 2016 SO Appalachian State NYJ 13 237 1402 5.9 10
80 Myles Gaskin 2017 JR Washington MIA 13 222 1380 6.2 21
86 Myles Gaskin 2016 SO Washington 14 237 1373 5.8 10
91 Alex Barnes 2018 JR Kansas State TEN 12 256 1355 5.3 12

Rushing Average

Beattie Feathers holds the rookie yards per attempt record with an 8.44 average on 119 attempts set in 1934 on the Bears. In his rookie season Feathers became the first player in NFL history to rush for over 1,000 yards in one season. The second leading rookie, Marion Motley, still holds the career rushing yards per attempt record (minimum 750 attempts). Alvin Kamara is the only modern era running back in the top ten rookies for rushing average.

Player Year Tm G GS Att Yds Y/A TD Y/G
Beattie Feathers 1934 CHI 11 10 119 1004 8.44 8 91.3
Marion Motley* 1946 CLE 13 10 73 601 8.23 5 46.2
Lenny Moore* 1956 CLT 12 12 86 649 7.55 8 54.1
Joe Perry* 1948 SFO 14 77 562 7.30 10 40.1
Hugh McElhenny* 1952 SFO 12 12 98 684 6.98 6 57
Paul Lowe 1960 SDG 14 11 136 855 6.29 8 61.1
Bobby Mitchell* 1958 CLE 12 7 80 500 6.25 1 41.7
Vic Kulbitski 1946 BBA 13 8 97 605 6.24 2 46.5
Buddy Young 1947 NAA 14 8 116 712 6.14 3 50.9
Alvin Kamara 2017 NOR 16 3 120 728 6.07 8 45.5

 

Ty Johnson leads 2019 rookies in college rushing yards per attempt with a 9.1 yard average set in 2016 at Maryland. He is closely followed by Darrell Henderson who had an 8.9 average in both of the last two seasons. That puts Henderson at second and third in the list. Ty Johnson was drafted in the sixth round by the Lions. Henderson was taken in the third round by the Rams.

The Rams have a highly rated offensive line and that coupled with Henderson’s speed (6th in the combine forty) and production make him my pick for leading rookies in yards per attempt. In 2018 Henderson was first in the FBS in rushing plays of 20+, 30+, 40+, 50+ and 60+ yards. I project Henderson with a 5.4 average. That would be tie for fourth among rookie backs over the last five seasons with 100+ attempts per season.

Rk Player Year Class School Team G Att Yds Avg TD
4 Ty Johnson 2016 SO Maryland DET 13 110 1004 9.1 6
7 Darrell Henderson 2018 JR Memphis LAR 13 214 1909 8.9 22
8 Darrell Henderson 2017 SO Memphis LAR 12 130 1154 8.9 9
20 Bryce Love 2017 JR Stanford WAS 13 263 2118 8.1 19
35 Tony Brooks-James 2016 SO Oregon ATL 12 101 771 7.6 9
38 Marcus Marshall 2015 FR Georgia Tech KAN 11 85 649 7.6 4
44 Darrin Hall 2018 SR Pittsburgh GNB 14 153 1144 7.5 10
48 Damien Harris 2017 JR Alabama NWE 14 135 1000 7.4 11
49 Jalin Moore 2015 FR Appalachian State NYJ 10 86 635 7.4 5
59 Adam Choice 2018 SR Clemson SEA 15 77 548 7.1 7
63 Damien Harris 2016 SO Alabama 15 146 1037 7.1 2
65 Bryce Love 2016 SO Stanford 12 111 783 7.1 3
66 Tony Pollard 2018 JR Memphis DAL 14 78 552 7.1 6

Rushing Touchdowns

Eric Dickerson leads all rookies in rushing touchdowns with 18 set in 1983 on the Rams. The next closest rookie has 15. Ezekiel Elliot is the only rookie in the last 16 years to make the top ten. He is in a four way tie for second at 15 touchdowns. Here are the top ten. There was a nine way tie at tenth but I cut it off based on number of games.

Rk Player Year Age Tm Lg G GS Att Yds Y/A TD Y/G
1 Eric Dickerson* 1983 23 RAM NFL 16 16 390 1808 4.64 18 113
2 Mike Anderson 2000 27 DEN NFL 16 12 297 1487 5.01 15 92.9
3 Ezekiel Elliott 2016 21 DAL NFL 15 15 322 1631 5.07 15 108.7
4 Clinton Portis 2002 21 DEN NFL 16 12 273 1508 5.52 15 94.3
5 Ickey Woods 1988 22 CIN NFL 16 10 203 1066 5.25 15 66.6
6 Curtis Martin* 1995 22 NWE NFL 16 15 368 1487 4.04 14 92.9
7 Barry Sanders* 1989 21 DET NFL 15 13 280 1470 5.25 14 98
8 Gale Sayers* 1965 22 CHI NFL 14 11 166 867 5.22 14 61.9
9 Fred Taylor 1998 22 JAX NFL 15 12 264 1223 4.63 14 81.5
10 Earl Campbell* 1978 23 HOU NFL 15 14 302 1450 4.8 13 96.7
11 Cookie Gilchrist 1962 27 BUF AFL 14 214 1096 5.12 13 78.3

 

Buffalo Bills’ Devin Singletary holds the top spot among 2019 rookie running backs for rushing touchdowns and also tie for second. He had 32 in 2017 for spot one and in 2018 he had 22 in 2018 to tie Darrell Henderson for the number two spot. For the last two seasons over 30% of his 132 red zone rushing attempts resulted in a touchdown. Singletary forced 96 missed tackles last season which was second in the country as reported by Pro Football Focus. His elusiveness especially in small quarters make him a strong red zone threat. LeSean McCoy made only 2 rushing touchdowns on 22 red zone attempts in 2018. Frank Gore made zero on thirteen attempts. This is an area I see the Bills relying heavily on Singletary. I project nine rushing touchdowns for Singletary. Here are the top 2019 rookies in college rushing touchdowns.

Rk Player Year Class School Team G Att Yds Avg TD
1 Devin Singletary 2017 SO Florida Atlantic BUF 14 301 1918 6.4 32
12 Darrell Henderson 2018 JR Memphis LAR 13 214 1909 8.9 22
14 Devin Singletary 2018 JR Florida Atlantic 12 261 1348 5.2 22
15 Myles Gaskin 2017 JR Washington MIA 13 222 1380 6.2 21
27 Bryce Love 2017 JR Stanford WAS 13 263 2118 8.1 19
29 Benjamin Snell Jr. 2017 SO Kentucky PIT 13 262 1333 5.1 19
46 Trayveon Williams 2018 JR Texas A&M CIN 13 271 1760 6.5 18
57 Alexander Mattison 2018 JR Boise State MIN 13 302 1415 4.7 17
80 Benjamin Snell Jr. 2018 JR Kentucky 13 289 1449 5 16
90 Justice Hill 2017 SO Oklahoma State BAL 13 268 1467 5.5 15
99 Ryquell Armstead 2016 SO Temple JAX 13 156 919 5.9 14
102 Nick Brossette 2018 SR Louisiana State NWE 13 240 1039 4.3 14

Rushing Yards Per Game

Eric Dickerson has the rookie  record of rushing yards per game with 113 set in 1983 on the Rams.  Ezekiel Elliot was the last rookie to crack the top ten making number two in 2016 with 108.7 yards. Here are the all-time rookie leaders.

Rk Player Year Age Tm G GS Att Yds Y/A TD Y/G
1 Eric Dickerson* 1983 23 RAM 16 16 390 1808 4.64 18 113
2 Ezekiel Elliott 2016 21 DAL 15 15 322 1631 5.07 15 108.7
3 George Rogers 1981 23 NOR 16 16 378 1674 4.43 13 104.6
4 Julius Jones 2004 23 DAL 8 7 197 819 4.16 7 102.4
5 Alfred Morris 2012 24 WAS 16 16 335 1613 4.81 13 100.8
6 Ottis Anderson 1979 22 STL 16 16 331 1605 4.85 8 100.3
7 Barry Sanders* 1989 21 DET 15 13 280 1470 5.25 14 98
8 Edgerrin James 1999 21 IND 16 16 369 1553 4.21 13 97.1
9 Don Woods 1974 23 SDG 12 9 227 1162 5.12 7 96.8
10 Earl Campbell* 1978 23 HOU 15 14 302 1450 4.8 13 96.7

 

Bryce Love on the Redskins had the best college yards per game with 163 in 2017. However he is currently on the NFI list recovering from an ACL injury last year. Head coach Gruden has stated that he does not think he’ll be on our active roster Week 1. The next two are Darrel Henderson with 147 yards in 2018 and Devin Singletary with 137 yards in 2017. I project Singletary to lead the rookies with a 69 yards per game average.

Rk Player Year Class Team G Att Yds Avg TD Yds/Game
6 Bryce Love 2017 JR WAS 13 263 2118 8.1 19 162.92
13 Darrell Henderson 2018 JR LAR 13 214 1909 8.9 22 146.85
12 Devin Singletary 2017 SO BUF 14 301 1918 6.4 32 137.00
24 Trayveon Williams 2018 JR CIN 13 271 1760 6.5 18 135.38
104 Alex Barnes 2018 JR TEN 12 256 1355 5.3 12 112.92
70 Justice Hill 2017 SO BAL 13 268 1467 5.5 15 112.85
107 Devin Singletary 2018 JR 12 261 1348 5.2 22 112.33
73 Benjamin Snell Jr. 2018 JR PIT 13 289 1449 5 16 111.46
318 Dexter Williams 2018 SR GNB 9 158 995 6.3 12 110.56
219 Ryquell Armstead 2018 SR JAX 10 210 1098 5.2 13 109.80
80 Alexander Mattison 2018 JR MIN 13 302 1415 4.7 17 108.85

Yards From Scrimmage

Eric Dickerson holds the rookie record among rookie running back with 2,212 in 1983 on the Rams. Saquon Barkley is the latest to make the top ten grabbing third with 2,028 in 2018.

Rk Player Year Age Tm G GS Touch TotOff YScm APYd RtY
1 Eric Dickerson* 1983 23 RAM 16 16 441 1808 2212 2212 0
2 Edgerrin James 1999 21 IND 16 16 431 1553 2139 2139 0
3 Saquon Barkley 2018 21 NYG 16 16 352 1307 2028 2028 0
4 Ezekiel Elliott 2016 21 DAL 15 15 354 1631 1994 1987 0
5 Doug Martin 2012 23 TAM 16 16 368 1454 1926 1926 0
6 Billy Sims 1980 25 DET 16 16 364 1303 1924 1907 0
7 Ottis Anderson 1979 22 STL 16 16 372 1605 1913 1913 0
8 Clinton Portis 2002 21 DEN 16 12 306 1508 1872 1872 0
9 Marshall Faulk* 1994 21 IND 16 16 366 1282 1804 1804 0
10 George Rogers 1981 23 NOR 16 16 394 1674 1800 1800 0

 

Darrel Henderson leads rookie running backs in college yards from scrimmage with 2,204 in 2018. He also leads in scrimmage yards per game with 170 yards. In 2018 he was second in scrimmage yards per play. Even with Rams Todd Gurley taking less attempts I do not see Henderson getting enough attempts to lead the rookies. I project Devin Singletary as the lead rookie in yards from scrimmage with 1,340 yards. Here are the top ten 2019 rookie backs in college scrimmage yards.

Yr Rk Name Team Yr Year Team G Rush Yards Recv Yards TD Plays Total Yards Yards/Play Yards/G
2 Darrell Henderson Memphis JR 2018 LAR 13 1909 295 25 233 2204 9.5 169.5
2 Bryce Love Stanford JR 2017 WAS 13 2118 33 19 269 2151 8 165.5
3 Devin Singletary FAU SO 2017 BUF 14 1920 198 33 320 2118 6.6 151.3
3 Trayveon Williams Texas A&M JR 2018 CIN 13 1760 278 19 298 2038 6.8 156.8
12 Justice Hill Okla St SO 2017 BAL 13 1467 190 16 299 1657 5.5 127.5
14 Myles Gaskin Washington JR 2017 MIA 13 1380 232 24 241 1612 6.7 124
7 Alexander Mattison Boise St JR 2018 MIN 13 1415 173 17 329 1588 4.8 122.2
10 Benny Snell, Jr. Kentucky JR 2018 PIT 13 1449 105 16 306 1554 5.1 119.5
11 Alex Barnes Kansas St JR 2018 TEN 12 1355 194 12 276 1549 5.6 129.1
14 A.J. Ouellette Ohio SR 2018 CLE 13 1306 212 14 234 1518 6.5 116.8

Summary

Here is a summary table of the existing rookie record holders and the projected 2018 lead rookies. It is amazing how Eric Dickerson to this day leads all rookies in almost every rushing statistic. My projections have Devin Singletary leading the 2019 rookies in almost a sweep of the statistics. This is hugely dependent on Singletary winning the starting role out of pre-season. However unlike the receiver rookies I do not see the running back rookies even cracking the top ten of rookie rushing statistics. I attribute that in large part to the fact that the league was a much more run-oriented league than it is today.

Statistic Record Player When Team 2019 Rookie Team Estimated Record Result
Rush Yards 1808 Eric Dickerson 1983 RAM Devin Singletary BUF 1100 No Change
Rush Attempts 390 Eric Dickerson 1983 RAM Devin Singletary BUF 205 No Change
Rush Average 8.44 Beattie Feathers 1934 CHI Darrell Henderson LAR 5.4 No Change
Rush Tds 18 Eric Dickerson 1983 RAM Devin Singletary BUF 9 No Change
Rush Yds/Game 113 Eric Dickerson 1983 RAM Devin Singletary BUF 69 No Change
Scimmage Yds 2212 Eric Dickerson 1983 RAM Devin Singletary BUF 1340 No Change

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