AFC North Ranked: Top 5 RBs in AFC North

AFC North Ranked: Top 5 RBs in AFC North

Cole Paganelli
3 years ago
3 min read
AFC North Ranked: Top 5 RBs in AFC North

The AFC North has always had the reputation of being a “ground and pound” division. And even in 2021, when passing is king across the league, this division still has four teams who rely a lot on their running game in order to be able to win.

Here is a look at the top running backs in the AFC North heading into the new season.

5. J.K. Dobbins - Ravens

The Ravens were excited to land Dobbins in the second round of the 2020 draft, and he didn’t disappoint. The former Buckeye finished the regular season as the lead back, rushing for 805 yards and nine touchdowns. He did this despite technically starting just one game.

Year two should be an even bigger year for Dobbins, who had 22 of his 153 carries go for ten or more yards. But since he also shares carries with Gus Edwards and the QB Lamar Jackson, his overall ranking on this list is capped at number five.

4. Najee Harris - Steelers

It might be a little controversial to have Harris ahead of Dobbins despite never playing a game in the NFL yet. However, all indications show that former Alabama back is the complete package who should be the every-down back in Pittsburgh right away.

After James Conner struggled with injuries in each of the last two seasons, a young and healthy back like Harris will be an upgrade for the Steelers. After a senior year in which he ran for 1,466 yards and a whopping 26 touchdowns, Harris should be in a position to find some immediate success at the next level.

3. Joe Mixon - Bengals

Mixon would’ve been a stronger candidate to earn a top-two spot on the list had he not played in just six games last season. However, the Bengals’ lead back is still among one of the more talented running backs in football.

Prior to 2020, Mixon had back-to-back seasons of over 1,100 rushing yards, in addition, to close to 300 receiving yards in each year. The big question for Mixon, though, who turns 25 in July, is if his offensive line will be able to block for him adequately enough so he can be on the field and perform at the level he’s capable of.

2. Kareem Hunt - Browns

Hunt is not the “starting” running back in Cleveland’s elite backfield, but that doesn’t change the fact he’s better than everyone in the division except for the one guy ahead of him. In fact, you can make a case that Hunt, now entering his third season in Cleveland, is a top-10 back in all of football.

Making only five starts but appearing in all 16 games, Hunt ran for 841 yards and six touchdowns on just under 200 carries. He also eclipsed 300 receiving yards for the third time in his career and added five additional TDs. Hunt’s overall combination of rushing and receiving earn him the second spot on this list.

1. Nick Chubb - Browns

If it wasn’t for Hunt’s contributions, particularly in the passing game, Chubb might be in the conversation as the best running back in the league. But for now, he’s the easy pick for the best running back in the AFC North.

Chubb hit 1,000 yards rushing last season despite missing four games but still managed to set a career-high in touchdowns with 12. He has also led the league in broken tackle rate over the last two seasons, breaking 124 tackles on 488 carries.

In a division with lots of great running backs, Chubb reigns supreme.

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