30 best NFL running backs of the 21st century

There were so many great running backs since the year 2000, but to rank them is a huge task. Who lands at number one at a position that's getting harder and harder to value?

Indianapolis Colts v Tennessee Titans
Indianapolis Colts v Tennessee Titans / Frederick Breedon/GettyImages
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19. Corey Dillon, 2000-2006
Cincinnati Bengals, New England Patriots

We’ll be frank; Corey Dillon might be the hardest player to rank on this list. He had some diva moments while he was with the Cincinnati Bengals, and he might be the best example of the “Patriot Way” in Bill Belichick's history. He was always great, but his stint with the Patriots made him a championship-level player.

Let’s start at the beginning. Dillon made an impact almost immediately, but that happened before the turn of the millennium. We won’t count that 246 yards and 4 touchdowns performance in 1997, breaking a rookie record once held by Jim Brown, but we have to mention it. 

Dillon ran for over 1,000 yards in each of his Bengals seasons except the last one where it felt like they were squeezing him out. He was this high-profile asset in 2004, and he was traded to the defending Super Bowl champions. The Patriots were already stacked in 2003, but then adding Dillon made them even better.

He rushed for a league-leading 1,635 yards in his first season in New England. It was the only season of his career he averaged more than 100 yards per game. He had 106 total yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl against the Philadelphia Eagles, sealing the Patriots dynasty. That touchdown broke a fourth-quarter tie and gave his team a lead they would never give up. Dillon finished his career ahead of superstars like O.J. Simpson and Earl Campbell in career rushing yards. He currently sits 20th all-time.