- Matt Williamson, ESPN.com
Each Monday, Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. breaks down a key position group in a division. Last week, he reviewed NFC North offensive lines. Today, he reviews and ranks the AFC North running backs from best to worst.
Because of his size and physicality, I give Rashard Mendenhall the slight edge over Ray Rice as the best running back in the AFC North. And Mendenhall is ascending. He has an exceptional overall skill set. Mendenhall still has a lot of work to do as a receiving option, but he does have natural hands. The Super Bowl aside, Mendenhall also was excellent with his ball security last season. The Steelers' run-blocking was a major liability overall, but Mendenhall still averaged 4 yards per carry in 2010 (3.9 to be exact). And contrary to popular belief, the Steelers do employ a pass-first offense and Ben Roethlisberger is the focal point.