Rice NFL's 9th Best Back?

Jim Rogash

According to NFL.com's Dan Hanzus, Ravens running back Ray Rice is the currently the 9th best back in the league.

On Tuesday, nfl.com writer Dan Hanzus ranked his top running backs in the NFL right now, and the Ravens' Ray Rice came in at #9. I. however, disagree with Hanzus' ranking and I believe Rice should be at least three spots higher on this list. He has the Redskins' Alfred Morris (#7), Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles (#6), and Bucs' rookie sensation Doug Martin (#5) all ranked higher than Rice. His argument for having Rice so low on the list is due to the emergence of Bernard Pierce as a legitimate threat in the Ravens running game as well and there is a good chance that Pierce could steal some carries from Rice this year. However, I don't see how one could put Martin and Morris ahead of Rice after each of them have had only one season in the league (while both were very productive). I think consistency is a huge factor when evaluating a player's talent and value, especially at a position like running back. Ray Rice has been a model for consistency in his four years as a starter in the league, starting all 16 games each year on his way to eclipsing the 1,000 yard mark on the ground. Rice is also a valuable asset in the passing game, with 2,713 career receiving yards and 6 receiving touchdowns. In 2011, Rice led the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 2,068 combined yards and 15 total touchdowns. While I believe Morris and Martin are very talented backs as well, i don't think you can argue that they are better than Rice, especially at this point in their careers. I also think that when evaluating Alfred Morris, you have to take into account the Mike Shanahan factor. Shanahan has a knack for turning rather average running backs into 1,000 yard rushers (see: LaMont Jordan, Mike Anderson, Olandis Gary, Rueben Droughns, Tatum Bell). As for Jamaal Charles being ranked higher than Rice, it would be hard to argue this based on talent alone, but Charles has struggled to stay healthy, missing the almost the entire 2011 season with a torn ACL and he missed some time last season due to a concussion. Also, Rice has been significantly more productive than Charles as receiver throughout their careers. Obviously, I am biased on the issue, but I think Ray Rice deserves a little more love than being ranked 9th best ballcarrier in the league.

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