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Rookie impact: running backs

Posted by Doug on April 25, 2006

As the name suggests, this will be the first in a series.

In keeping with my draft week theme, I'd like to be able to present a bunch of historical draft data. But I lack draft data. That's a situation that will be changing soon, but more on that later. For now, what I can do is examine rookie data.

I decided to run a quick check to see if rookie production was increasing, decreasing, or staying level at the various skill positions. Here is the summary data for running backs. The Teams column shows how many teams had a rookie as their leading rusher (most carries). The Elite column shows how many rookie running backs were in the top 10 in fantasy points (even if you're not a fantasy player, the rankings will generally match up pretty well with "real life" rankings). The PCT column shows what percentage of all rushing attempts by running backs came from rookie running backs leagewide.


Year Teams Elite PCT
=================================
1978 2 1 10.1
1979 2 1 14.0
1980 5 3 16.6
1981 5 1 18.1
1982 2 1 12.3
1983 2 2 13.8
1984 4 0 15.2
1985 2 0 10.6
1986 3 2 18.0
1987 2 1 11.7
1988 4 1 14.5
1989 5 1 16.2
1990 2 1 15.8
1991 3 0 12.4
1992 3 1 9.2
1993 6 2 19.8
1994 3 1 16.1
1995 5 1 17.2
1996 3 2 11.6
1997 4 1 12.6
1998 3 2 13.1
1999 5 1 15.8
2000 5 1 17.9
2001 6 1 20.0
2002 4 1 15.5
2003 1 0 8.1
2004 2 0 9.2
2005 3 0 11.9

Here is a rundown of all teams that have had a rookie as their leading rusher. The data should be self-explanatory:


1978
====
buf 5-11-0 Terry Miller (238-1060- 7, 22-246-0)
hou 10- 6-0 Earl Campbell (302-1450-13, 12- 48-0)

1979
====
atl 6-10-0 William Andrews (239-1023- 3, 39-309-2)
stl 5-11-0 Ottis Anderson (331-1605- 8, 41-308-2)

1980
====
bal 7- 9-0 Curtis Dickey (176- 800-11, 25-204-2)
buf 11- 5-0 Joe Cribbs (306-1185-11, 52-415-1)
det 9- 7-0 Billy Sims (313-1303-13, 51-621-3)
nwe 10- 6-0 Vagas Ferguson (211- 818- 2, 22-173-0)
sfo 6-10-0 Earl Cooper (171- 720- 5, 83-567-4)

1981
====
kan 9- 7-0 Joe Delaney (234-1121- 3, 22-246-0)
mia 11- 4-1 Andra Franklin (201- 711- 7, 3- 6-1)
nor 4-12-0 George Rogers (378-1674-13, 16-126-0)
nwe 2-14-0 Tony Collins (204- 873- 7, 26-232-0)
nyj 10- 5-1 Freeman McNeil (137- 623- 2, 18-171-1)

1982
====
nyg 4- 5-0 Butch Woolfolk (112- 439- 2, 23-224-2)
rai 8- 1-0 Marcus Allen (160- 697-11, 38-401-3)

1983
====
ram 9- 7-0 Eric Dickerson (390-1808-18, 51-404-2)
sea 9- 7-0 Curt Warner (335-1449-13, 42-325-1)

1984
====
buf 2-14-0 Greg Bell (262-1100- 7, 34-277-1)
kan 8- 8-0 Herman Heard (165- 684- 4, 25-223-0)
min 3-13-0 Alfred Anderson (201- 773- 2, 17-102-1)
nwe 9- 7-0 Craig James (160- 790- 1, 22-159-0)

1985
====
hou 5-11-0 Mike Rozier (133- 462- 8, 9- 96-0)
sdg 8- 8-0 Tim Spencer (124- 478-10, 11-135-0)

1986
====
gnb 4-12-0 Kenneth Davis (114- 519- 0, 21-142-1)
nor 7- 9-0 Rueben Mayes (286-1353- 8, 17- 96-0)
phi 5-10-1 Keith Byars (177- 577- 1, 11- 44-0)

1987
====
kan 4-11-0 Christian Okoye (157- 660- 3, 24-169-0)
mia 8- 7-0 Troy Stradford (145- 619- 6, 48-457-1)

1988
====
buf 12- 4-0 Thurman Thomas (207- 881- 2, 18-208-0)
cin 12- 4-0 Ickey Woods (203-1066-15, 21-199-0)
nwe 9- 7-0 John Stephens (297-1168- 4, 14- 98-0)
tam 5-11-0 Lars Tate (122- 467- 7, 5- 23-1)

1989
====
den 11- 5-0 Bobby Humphrey (294-1151- 7, 22-156-1)
det 7- 9-0 Barry Sanders (280-1470-14, 24-282-0)
mia 8- 8-0 Sammie Smith (200- 659- 6, 7- 81-0)
pit 9- 7-0 Tim Worley (195- 770- 5, 15-113-0)
sdg 6-10-0 Marion Butts (170- 683- 9, 7- 21-0)

1990
====
dal 7- 9-0 Emmitt Smith (241- 937-11, 24-228-0)
pho 5-11-0 Johnny Johnson (234- 926- 5, 25-241-0)

1991
====
atl 10- 6-0 Erric Pegram (101- 349- 1, 1- -1-0)
nwe 6-10-0 Leonard Russell (266- 959- 4, 18- 81-0)
phi 10- 6-0 James Joseph (135- 440- 0, 10- 64-0)

1992
====
atl 6-10-0 Tony Smith ( 87- 329- 2, 2- 14-0)
nor 12- 4-0 Vaughn Dunbar (154- 565- 3, 9- 62-0)
sfo 14- 2-0 Ricky Watters (206-1013- 9, 43-405-2)

1993
====
ind 4-12-0 Roosevelt Potts (179- 711- 0, 26-189-0)
nor 8- 8-0 Derek Brown (180- 705- 2, 21-170-1)
pho 7- 9-0 Ronald Moore (263-1018- 9, 3- 16-0)
rai 10- 6-0 Greg Robinson (156- 591- 1, 15-142-0)
ram 5-11-0 Jerome Bettis (294-1429- 7, 26-244-0)
was 4-12-0 Reggie Brooks (223-1063- 3, 21-186-0)

1994
====
ind 8- 8-0 Marshall Faulk (314-1282-11, 52-522-1)
nor 7- 9-0 Mario Bates (151- 579- 6, 8- 62-0)
tam 6-10-0 Errict Rhett (284-1011- 7, 22-119-0)

1995
====
chi 9- 7-0 Rashaan Salaam (296-1074-10, 7- 56-0)
den 8- 8-0 Terrell Davis (237-1117- 7, 49-367-1)
hou 7- 9-0 Rodney Thomas (251- 947- 5, 39-204-2)
jax 4-12-0 James Stewart (137- 525- 2, 21-190-1)
nwe 6-10-0 Curtis Martin (368-1487-14, 30-261-1)

1996
====
hou 8- 8-0 Eddie George (335-1368- 8, 23-182-0)
mia 8- 8-0 Karim Abdul-Jabbar (307-1116-11, 23-139-0)
ram 6-10-0 Lawrence Phillips (193- 632- 4, 8- 28-1)

1997
====
buf 6-10-0 Antowain Smith (194- 840- 8, 28-177-0)
car 7- 9-0 Fred Lane (182- 809- 7, 8- 27-0)
cin 7- 9-0 Corey Dillon (233-1129-10, 27-259-0)
tam 10- 6-0 Warrick Dunn (224- 978- 4, 39-462-3)

1998
====
jax 11- 5-0 Fred Taylor (264-1223-14, 44-421-3)
nwe 9- 7-0 Robert Edwards (291-1115- 9, 35-331-3)
ram 4-12-0 Robert Holcombe ( 98- 230- 2, 6- 34-0)

1999
====
den 6-10-0 Olandis Gary (276-1159- 7, 21-159-0)
ind 13- 3-0 Edgerrin James (369-1553-13, 62-586-4)
mia 9- 7-0 J.J. Johnson (164- 558- 4, 15-100-0)
nor 3-13-0 Ricky Williams (253- 884- 2, 28-172-0)
nyg 7- 9-0 Joe Montgomery (115- 348- 3, 0- 0-0)

2000
====
bal 12- 4-0 Jamal Lewis (309-1364- 6, 27-296-0)
buf 8- 8-0 Shawn Bryson (161- 591- 0, 32-271-2)
cle 3-13-0 Travis Prentice (173- 512- 7, 37-191-1)
den 11- 5-0 Mike Anderson (297-1487-15, 23-169-0)
nyg 12- 4-0 Ron Dayne (228- 770- 5, 3- 11-0)

2001
====
buf 3-13-0 Travis Henry (213- 729- 4, 22-179-0)
chi 13- 3-0 Anthony Thomas (278-1183- 7, 22-178-0)
cle 7- 9-0 James Jackson (195- 554- 2, 7- 56-0)
ind 6-10-0 Dominic Rhodes (233-1104- 9, 34-224-0)
min 5-11-0 Michael Bennett (172- 682- 2, 29-226-1)
sdg 5-11-0 LaDainian Tomlinson (339-1236-10, 59-367-0)

2002
====
ari 5-11-0 Marcel Shipp (188- 834- 6, 38-413-3)
cle 9- 7-0 William Green (243- 887- 6, 16-113-0)
den 9- 7-0 Clinton Portis (273-1508-15, 33-364-2)
hou 4-12-0 Jonathan Wells (197- 529- 3, 9- 48-0)

2003
====
hou 5-11-0 Domanick Davis (238-1031- 8, 47-351-0)

2004
====
dal 6-10-0 Julius Jones (197- 819- 7, 17-109-0)
det 6-10-0 Kevin Jones (241-1133- 5, 28-180-1)

2005
====
gnb 4-12-0 Samkon Gado (143- 582- 6, 10- 77-1)
mia 9- 7-0 Ronnie Brown (207- 907- 4, 32-232-1)
tam 11- 5-0 Cadillac Williams (290-1178- 6, 20- 81-0)

I should note that the word "rookie" may not be technically correct in some cases. Samkon Gado, for example, was not officially a rookie last year. But I'm counting players who had no previous game experience.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 25th, 2006 at 4:21 am and is filed under History, NFL Draft. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.