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NFC East: Ranking The Division's Top Players At RB


Eventually I'm going to turn my attention toward the defensive side of the ball in these divisional position rankings. But for the time being, I'm content to keep my focus on the glamour positions.

This was a pretty fantastic year for skill players in the NFC East, when you think about it. The division as a whole endured a down year, but think back to Dez Bryant and DeSean Jackson, and Nick Foles' emergence. In that same vein, there's a lot to be said for the running back position, as the NFC East produced three 1,000-yard rushers – not to mention the league rushing champ.

With that in mind, there's only one logical place to start these rankings:

1. LeSean McCoy, Eagles –There really isn't a logical argument you can make against him. McCoy's 1,607 rushing yards led the league in 2013, as he was one of the key components of Chip Kelly's successful first season in Philadelphia.

McCoy has the look of a shifty, fragile speedster of a running back, but he proved that notion incorrect on the way to the rushing title. He ran the ball 314 times last season and didn't miss a game, which averages out to an impressive 19.6 carries per contest.

Those are numbers indicative of a big, bruising type of tailback – Adrian Peterson averaged 19.9 carries per game, while Matt Forte came in at 18 even. But McCoy handled the load while still maintain his explosiveness. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry, and he had nine runs of 20 yards or more.

If there's a knock against him, it's probably that he finished with just nine touchdowns, which seems low for the league's leading runner.

2. Alfred Morris, Redskins –I imagine a lot of people would put DeMarco Murray here, but Morris' sophomore season seriously impressed me.

Morris burst onto the scene in 2012 as a 1,600-yard rookie rusher on a playoff team. It was logical to think he wouldn't match that production in year two – especially given the disaster the Redskins' season turned into.

Washington's season was abysmal, but Morris wasn't the reason for it. He didn't run for 1,600 yards, but he turned in a solid 1,275-yard effort – an average of 4.6 yards per carry – which helped earn him a Pro Bowl selection.

His touchdown total fell by almost 50 percent, from 13 to seven, but I'm going to allow that it had a lot to do with his team's drop from 10-6 to 3-13. The Redskins had a lot of problems last season, but Morris didn't appear to be one of them.

3. DeMarco Murray, Cowboys –Murray had shown flashes of potential in the first two seasons of an injury-prone career. This past season was his healthiest campaign, and it was no surprise to see it turn into his best.

The funny thing is that it didn't all come together until the final months of the season. Murray was on pace for about an 800-yard season after missing two games with a knee injury. But he turned on the jets from November onward, averaging 95 yards per game in the final seven weeks.

There's no doubt Murray has the talent to rank as one of the league's best backs. I want to see more, though. He could easily move up the list if he's able to stay healthy and stay productive.

4. Andre Brown, Giants –I don't know how much of a difference Brown would have made in New York had he been available for the full season, but he was certainly effective upon his return from injury in Week 10. [embedded_ad]

First-round draft pick David Wilson didn't appear to be the answer in place of Brown, who went down in the final game of the preseason. Wilson didn't rush for more than 55 yards in any of his five appearances before injuring his neck – an injury which may prevent him from playing football again.

Brown came back against Oakland and proceeded to rush for 115 yards and a touchdown in a victory. He managed to put up 492 yards and three touchdowns in the second half of the season, though he faltered in the final month of the season – he combined for just 68 yards in the last three games.

It wasn't exactly an awe-inspiring performance. But Wilson's future is currently in doubt, and longtime running back Brandon Jacobs retired after the season. Brown's strong showing in the latter half of a losing season gives some hope that New York might be OK at the position.

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