Thurman Thomas, the former Buffalo Bill and Hall-of-Famer, was more than just a running back.
He was a prototype for a whole new way of playing offense in the National Football League, a running back and a receiver in the same body who currently sits as the top 20 all-time among all-purpose yards leaders in NFL history.
Recently, Thomas turned his attention toward today’s NFL running backs as part of a segment for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which posted his list of the top five NFL running backs on its Facebook page.
Perhaps the most surprising part of the list is not who made it to the number one spot, but who ended up in the fourth spot, strangely enough.
Thomas’s selections are sure to raise more than a few eyebrows, but considering Thurman’s pedigree as a virtual “positionless” offensive weapon, it’s not as far-fetched as a lot of people may think.
Without further ado, here is Thomas’s list, including two young superstars who are currently on the injured reserve list, and one rising superstar who is just now scratching the surface of his true potential:
1. Alvin Kamara-
Kamara has done most of his damage in the passing game so far this season, notching 139 yards on 13 receptions against the Packers after going for 95 the previous week.
The season is still young, but thus far the multi-dimensional threat out of the backfield is earning every penny of that $75 million contract extension.
2. Ezekiel Elliot-
The former Ohio State star has averaged almost a yard less per carry so far in 2020, but he’s still been the workhorse for the Cowboys offense, averaging nearly 20 carries per game.
It’s only a matter of time before he gets untracked and back to his dominating ways.
3. Christian McCaffery-
The runner-up for offensive player of the year in 2019, McCaffery is an even more prolific receiver than Thomas was in his heyday, although his rushing stats haven’t quite measured up so far.
4. Lamar Jackson-
Thomas’s surprise selection on his list of the top five NFL running backs, Jackson is undoubtedly one of the most dynamic runners we’ve seen in the history of the game so far.
Jackson racked up a staggering 1,206 yards from the QB position last year.
Perhaps Thomas’s selection is a reference to the “running joke” that the Ravens QB is more suited to be a running back than a quarterback, a jab for which he has proven the critics wrong so far.
5. Saquon Barkley-
The sensational third year back out of Penn State put up an incredible 2000-plus all-purpose yards in his 2018 rookie season before a drop-off last year.
Currently on injured reserve, Thomas picked Barkley ahead of other 2020 standouts including Aaron Jones, Nick Chubb and Derrick Henry.
Needless to say, the Bills legend is not ready to give up on Barkley yet, despite the uphill battle he faces between injuries and the challenges of running behind the Giants’ offensive line.
That concludes Thurman Thomas’s list of the top five running backs in 2020. Who do you think is missing from this list? Let us know in the comments section below, or on our Facebook page here.
You can also check out a video of Thomas’s return to his alma mater Oklahoma State and his unveiling of the above list in the video below.