In the late 1990s and the early 2000s, ESPN's Scouts Inc. would likely have had a Denver Broncos running back in the top 25 and certainly in the top five when Terrell Davis was at his best. But, as we all know, the Broncos running game has fallen by the wayside over the last couple of seasons. Former head coach Josh McDaniels went to a pass-happy offense and the running game suffered as a result.
Still, one of McDaniels' draft picks is still with the team: running back Knowshon Moreno, taken No. 12 overall in 2009. But he has failed to live up the expectations of that selection in his two seasons. Scouts Inc. has Moreno rated (Insider subscription required) the No. 38 overall running back in league with a 70 overall grade. That's the same grade given to the Jets' LaDainian Tomlinson. And right after Tomlinson is Moreno's teammate, Willis McGahee. McGahee's ranking is just about right since he will be a part-time player, gaining most of his working inside the red zone. Moreno, on the other hand, could move up the rankings significantly if he has a breakout season, like he suspects he will. John Fox's run-heavy offense could help with that.
In the AFC West, the Kansas City Chiefs' Jamaal Charles comes in as the No. 3 running back in the league. The Raiders' Darren McFadden checks in at No. 7. McFadden destroyed the Broncos last season with 165 rushing yards and three run rushing touchdowns in the first game and 119 yards in the second. The Chargers' Ryan Mathews appears at No. 29.
The Broncos' defensive line better be up to the task of stopping the run this season or it may be a long year.