The 2008 NFL Draft was a mixed bag of consistent NFL starters to draft busts. As of the end of the 2018 season, 27 players have participated in at least one Pro Bowl. An interesting note here is that this is the only draft in the common era to not have a wide receiver in the first round.

But wide receivers will not be discussed here, instead we will be talking about the running back position. 23 running backs were drafted that weekend, which included five selected in Round One and three undrafted players that made an impact in the league. Recently, Jonathan Stewart and Jamaal Charles announced their retirements, meaning no running backs are officially active in the NFL.

Some of the RB’s had long successful careers while others never panned out. Here are my rankings of the careers of all the running backs from worst to first. The rankings are based on where they were drafted, their college success, and how they turned out in the NFL.

26. Thomas Brown

  • Drafted: 172nd (Round Six)
  • College: Georgia
  • Playing career: None
  • Career stats: None
  • NFL awards: None

Brown was an all-purpose back at the University of Georgia. A preseason injury in 2008 ended his rookie season before it began and never played in an NFL regular-season game.

Recently, Brown was hired as the running backs coach at the University of South Carolina.

25. Allen Patrick

  • Drafted: 240th (Round Seven)
  • College: Oklahoma
  • Playing career: 2008 (Browns)
  • Career stats: None
  • NFL awards: None

Patrick was the last running back drafted in 2008 by the Baltimore Ravens. Before that, he played at Independence Community College before transferring to Oklahoma, which included a 1,009 yard and eight touchdown senior season.

He never made the Ravens roster and signed with the Cleveland Browns. He was on the active roster for the Browns but never played a game for them. He bounced around with other teams during the preseason, last being on the St. Louis Rams roster in 2010. He never had a regular-season carry.

24. Cory Boyd

  • Drafted: 238th (Round Seven)
  • College: South Carolina
  • Playing career: 2008 (Broncos)
  • Career stats: One game
  • NFL awards: None

Boyd injured his knee in rookie mini-camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was placed on injured reserve. He was eventually waived by the Bucs and joined the Denver Broncos practice squad. He was active for one game but did not record any statistics. He was waived after the season and continued his football career in the Canadian Football League.

23. Marcus Thomas

  • Drafted: 166th (Round Five)
  • College: Texas-El Paso
  • Playing career: 2008 (Lions)
  • Career stats: Three games
  • NFL awards: None

Thomas finished his career at Texas-El Paso with 2,615 yards and 26 touchdowns before being drafted in the fifth round by the San Diego Chargers.

Thomas did not make the Chargers roster but signed with the Detroit Lions. He played in three games for the Lions but was only on the field for kickoff returns and 93 return yards. He was last released by the Denver Broncos in the 2009 preseason.

22. Chauncey Washington

  • Drafted: 213th (Round Seven)
  • College: USC
  • Playing career: 2008 (Jaguars), 2009 (Cowboys), 2009-2010 (Jets), 2010 (Rams), 2011 (Cowboys)
  • Career stats: Eight yards, 11 games
  • NFL awards: None

Washington was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the 213th selection but was waived in the middle of the 2008 season after rushing for only nine yards. He bounced around with a few other teams but never made an impact. His last season in the league with the Dallas Cowboys in 2011 had only one carry for -1 yard.

21. Xavier Omen

  • Drafted: 179th (Round Six)
  • College: Northwest Missouri State
  • Playing career: 2008-2009 (Bills)
  • Career stats: 27 yards, seven games
  • NFL awards: None

Omen was a former Division II running back for Northwest Missouri State Bearcats. Omen made the Buffalo Bills roster in 2008 season as the third-string running back. He saw limited action in two seasons with the Bills and bounced around a few teams in the preseason, last playing for the Denver Broncos in the 2012 preseason.

20. Mike Hart

Credit: Matt Detrich/IndyStar
  • Drafted: 202nd (Round Six)
  • College: Michigan
  • Playing career: 2008-2010 (Colts)
  • Career stats: 264 yards, two touchdowns, 21 games (one start)
  • NFL awards: None

Hart was a beast at Michigan. He rushed for 5,040 yards and 41 touchdowns in four seasons for the Wolverines. He was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts and was the third-string running back and played for three seasons.

After his playing career, he has been a running backs coach for multiple college teams, most recently for the Indiana Hoosiers.

19. Jalen Parmele

Credit: Sam Greenwood
  • Drafted: 176th (Round Six)
  • College: Toledo
  • Playing career: 2008 (Dolphins), 2008-2010 (Ravens), 2012 (Jaguars)
  • Career stats: 187 yards, 36 games (two starts)
  • NFL awards: None

Parmele had a successful career for the Toledo Rockets, rushing for 3,119 yards and 41 touchdowns in four seasons. He was drafted by the Miami Dolphins and was viewed as more of a special teamer/kick returner during his time there.

After being waived by the Dolphins, he signed with the Baltimore Ravens where he continued to be the return man for the team while playing some spot duty on offense. He bounced around a few teams after, most recently with the Cleveland Browns in 2015 in the preseason.

18. Ryan Torain

Credit: Win McNamee
  • Drafted: 139th (Round Five)
  • College: Arizona State
  • Playing career: 2008 (Broncos), 2010-2011 (Redskins), 2012 (Giants)
  • Career stats: 1,011 yards, six touchdowns, 22 games (13 starts)
  • NFL awards: None

Torain played in two games (started one) in 2008 with the Denver Broncos before an ACL ended his rookie season. He was released from the team and joined the Washington Redskins in 2010. He rushed for 942 yards and five touchdowns in two seasons with Washington. He joined the New York Giants in 2012 but recorded no statistics in two games.

17. Clifton Smith

Credit: Chris O’Meara/Associated Press
  • Drafted: Undrafted
  • College: Fresno State
  • Playing career: 2008-2009 (Buccaneers), 2010 (Dolphins), 2010 (Browns)
  • Career stats: 47 yards, 24 games
  • NFL awards: 1x Pro Bowl (2008), 1x Second-team All-Pro (2008)

Smith did not have an impact in the running game but made an impact as a kick returner in his first two years in the league. As a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he had 992 and 902 kick return yards in 2008 and 2009 respectively. His return ability earned him a Pro Bowl nod and All-Pro selection in his rookie season.

16. Lex Hilliard

Credit: Getty Images
  • Drafted: 204th (Round Six)
  • College: Montana
  • Playing career: 2008-2011 (Dolphins), 2012 (Patriots), 2012-2013 (Jets)
  • Career stats: 163 yards, two touchdowns, 62 games (13 starts)
  • NFL awards: None

Hilliard had a great career for the Montana Grizzlies, rushing for 4,016 yards and 50 touchdowns in his four seasons. Due to playing for a small school, he was drafted in the sixth round by the Miami Dolphins.

Viewed as a hybrid half-back/fullback, he also contributed as a special teamer and return man. He had a decent career playing multiple positions for multiple teams.

15. Kevin Smith

Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
  • Drafted: 64th (Round Three)
  • College: UCF
  • Playing career: 2008-2012 (Lions)
  • Career stats: 2,346 yards, 17 touchdowns, 54 games (31 starts)
  • NFL awards: None

In just three seasons, Smith had rushed for over 4,500 yards and 55 touchdowns, which included a 2,567-yard, 24 TD senior season.

Smith started for the majority of his rookie season, rushing for 976 yards. His production declined for the following seasons, rushing for 134 yards in his final season. An impressive college tenure did not turn into a successful career for the Detroit Lions.

14. Tashard Choice

Credit: Getty Images
  • Drafted: 122nd (Round Four)
  • College: Georgia Tech
  • Playing career: 2008-2011 (Cowboys), 2011 (Redskins), 2011-2013 (Bills), 2013 (Colts)
  • Career stats: 1,579 yards, 10 touchdowns, 88 games (four starts)
  • NFL awards: None

Choice was the second of two running backs taken by the Dallas Cowboys in 2008. He had a great career for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, rushing for 3,465 yards and 41 touchdowns in four years. He was the third-string running back for the Cowboys behind Marion Barber and fellow rookie Felix Jones. He was released in 2011 and joined the Washington Redskins and Buffalo Bills after. He ended his career in 2013 after splitting time between the Bills and Indianapolis Colts.

He is currently the running backs coach for his Aluma Mater.

13. Felix Jones

Credit: The Associated Press
  • Drafted: 22nd (Round One)
  • College: Arkansas
  • Playing career: 2008-2012 (Cowboys), 2013 (Steelers)
  • Career stats: 2,912 yards, 11 touchdowns, 80 games (25 starts)
  • NFL awards: None

Jones was the backup to star Darren McFadden during his time in Arkansas but still saw a lot of time in offense and even returned kickoffs. Despite being listed as the backup, Jones posted back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons and was selected in the first round by the Dallas Cowboys.

He was mainly a backup to Marion Barber during his time with the Cowboys and had his moments showing that he could be a nice option in the offense. He spent five seasons with the Cowboys before signing with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013. His tenure was not long, as he was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers a few months later. He played in all 16 games for the Steelers but was mainly in a special teams role. He participated in the one time NFL Veteran Combine in 2015 but was never signed with another team.

12. Steve Slaton

Credit: Paul Connors/AP
  • Drafted: 89th (Round Three)
  • College: West Virginia
  • Playing career: 2008-2011 (Texans), 2011 (Dolphins)
  • Career stats: 1,896 yards, 13 touchdowns, 45 games (26 starts)
  • NFL awards: None

Slaton was an absolute star at West Virginia. In just three seasons, he rushed for 3,923 yards and 50 touchdowns in one of the college football’s most favorite team to watch in the 2000s.

Slaton came out of the gate hot, rushing for 1,282 yards and nine touchdowns in his rookie season for the Houston Texans. The future was bright and he looked to be a steal in the draft and one of rising stars in the league. Unfortunately, injuries and inconsistent play ruined his chances to repeat his rookie success. He was waived by the Texans and joined the Miami Dolphins in 2011 but only played in three games, rushing for 64 yards. A great start to his career but many wonder what could have been for the former West Virginia star.

11. Tim Hightower

Credit: Getty Images
  • Drafted: 149th (Round Five)
  • College: Richmond
  • Playing career: 2008-2010 (Cardinals), 2011 (Redskins), 2015-2016 (Saints)
  • Career stats: 2,977 yards, 32 touchdowns, 77 games (45 starts)
  • NFL awards: None

Hightower surprised a lot of people coming out of Richmond and becoming an immediate contributor for the Arizona Cardinals. He played in every game his rookie season and became starter towards the end of the year, helping the team reach Super Bowl XLIII. He started the two seasons after and was then traded to the Washington Redskins in 2011. He started in five games but an ACL injury ended his season early.

In 2015, after four years away, he joined the New Orleans Saints and backed up Mark Ingram for two seasons before officially retiring in 2017.

10. Rashard Mendenhall

Credit: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
  • Drafted: 23rd (Round One)
  • College: Illinois
  • Playing career: 2008-2012 (Steelers), 2013 (Cardinals)
  • Career stats: 4,236 yards, 37 touchdowns, 72 games (63 starts)
  • NFL awards: Super Bowl XLIII champion

Mendenhall rushed for 1,681 yards and 17 touchdowns in his senior season for Illinois and was selected 23rd overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He struggled with fumbles early in his career and played in only four games in his rookie season due to fracturing his shoulder blade. The Steelers won the Super Bowl that year but he did not play due to the injury.

The following seasons saw success for Mendenhall as he rushed for 1,000+ yards in 2009-2010. An ACL injury ended his 2011 season and a suspension hurt his 2012 season. He played in 2013 for the Arizona Cardinals and rushed for 687 yards and eight touchdowns. He retired after the season and changed careers as a writer. He currently works as a story editor for HBO’s Ballers.

9. Danny Woodhead

Credit: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
  • Drafted: Undrafted
  • College: Chadron State
  • Playing career: 2008-2010 (Jets), 2010-2012 (Patriots), 2013-2016 (Chargers), 2017 (Ravens)
  • Career stats: 2,238 yards, 15 touchdowns, 101 games (14 starts)
  • NFL awards: None

Woodhead signed with the New York Jets in 2008 but spent his rookie season on injured reserve. After a two and a half year stint in New York, he signed with the New England Patriots, where he became a solid offensive weapon in the offense.

He spent the latter part of his career with the Chargers and Ravens but was injured for the majority of his time and retired in 2017. Still, the former two-time Division II MVP had a solid career.

8. BenJarvus Green-Ellis

Credit: Getty Images
  • Drafted: Undrafted
  • College: Ole Miss
  • Playing career: 2008-2011 (Patriots), 2012-2013 (Bengals)
  • Career stats: 3,914 yards, 42 touchdowns, 84 games (51 starts)
  • NFL awards: None

Green-Ellis, nicknamed “The Law Firm,” went undrafted but immediately signed with the New England Patriots. He was a backup for the first two years but started in his third year due to early-season injuries in the Pats backfield.

He had 1,008 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2010 and rushed for 667 yards and 11 touchdowns the following year. He signed with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2012 and had another 1,000 yard season under his belt. He last played in 2013 with the Bengals. Not a bad career for a guy who did not hear his name called on draft night.

7. Darren McFadden

Credit: Cary Edmondson/USA Today Sports
  • Drafted: 4th (Round One)
  • College: Arkansas
  • Playing career: 2008-2014 (Raiders), 2015-2017 (Cowboys)
  • Career stats: 5,421 yards, 28 touchdowns, 103 games (74 starts)
  • NFL awards: None

McFadden was an absolute star for the Arkansas Razorbacks. In three seasons, he rushed for 4,590 yards and had 41 touchdowns. He was also a factor in the receiving game and even played quarterback for a few snaps, passing for seven touchdowns during his time there.

McFadden was high on a lot of draft boards and was viewed as the next best running back in the NFL and was selected with the fourth selection in the 2008 draft. He had his moments for the Silver and Black, including 1,157 yards and seven touchdowns in 2010 but was never able to replicate the success he had in college. Injuries were a huge part of it but when healthy, he struggled on the field and other running backs like Justin Fargas and Latavius Murray seemingly played a lot better.

He signed with the Dallas Cowboys in 2015 and rushed for 1,089 yards but the drafting of Ezekiel Elliott and signing of Alfred Morris buried him on the depth chart and played sparingly. After being released during the 2017 season, McFadden retired from the NFL. While he was decent during his time in the NFL, he never lived up the high draft selection.

6. Justin Forsett

Credit: Matt Hazlett/Getty Images
  • Drafted: 233rd (Round Seven)
  • College: California
  • Playing career: 2008 (Seahawks), 2008 (Colts), 2008-2011 (Seahawks), 2012 (Texans), 2013 (Jaguars), 2014-2016 (Ravens), 2016 (Lions), 2016 (Broncos)
  • Career stats: 3,890 yards, 19 touchdowns, 122 games (37 starts)
  • NFL awards: 1x Pro Bowl (2014)

Normally, seventh-round selections are not usually known to have an impact but Forsett broke that mold. He was mainly used as a return specialist during the early part of his career and played spot duty at the running back position.

That changed in 2014 when he signed with the Baltimore Ravens. He rushed for 1,266 yards and eight touchdowns on route to his only Pro Bowl appearance. After his 2014 season, his production went down significantly and eventually retired after the 2016 season. Not a bad career with a seventh-round selection.

5. Jonathan Stewart

Credit: Jeff Siner
  • Drafted: 13th (Round One)
  • College: Oregon
  • Playing career: 2008-2017 (Panthers), 2018 (Giants)
  • Career stats: 7,335 yards, 51 touchdowns, 134 games (64 starts)
  • NFL awards: 1x Pro Bowl (2015)

Stewart had a stellar career at Oregon, which included a 1,722 yard and 11 touchdown senior season. He was the second running back selected in 2008 and shared the backfield with DeAngelo Williams. He only had one 1,000 yard season in 2009 (1,133) but earned his only Pro Bowl nod in 2015 after rushing for 989 yards and six touchdowns. He played his final season in 2018 with the New York Giants but was limited to three games due to a foot injury.

He may have not been the superstar running back with multiple 1,000-yard seasons but he was very consistent in the backfield with Williams. He retired as the all-time rushing leader for the Panthers with 7,318 yards and second in touchdowns with 51.

4. Ray Rice

Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images
  • Drafted: 55th (Round Two)
  • College: Rutgers
  • Playing career: 2008-2013 (Ravens)
  • Career stats: 6,180 yards, 37 touchdowns, 92 games (80 starts)
  • NFL awards: Super Bowl XLVII champion, 3x Pro Bowl (2009, 2011, 2012), 2x Second-team All-Pro (2009, 2011)

You can’t mention Rice’s name without the serious domestic violence arrest in 2014. In 2014, Rice was arrested and charged assault after a physical altercation with his then fianceé in Atlantic City. It is horrible what had happened but for this list, I did not take that into account, rather what he has done on the field.

It was a short six-year run in Baltimore and is considered on the last great running backs the Ravens have had in quite some time. After rushing for 454 yards his rookie year behind Willis McGahee, he exploded for 1,339 yards in his sophomore season. He followed his career with three more 1,000+ yard seasons and help Baltimore win Super Bowl XLVII. He struggled in his last season with injuries and had 660 yards.

Again, it is horrible what happened to the career of Rice but there is no doubt he had a huge impact on the Ravens in his short career.

3. Jamaal Charles

Credit: John Rieger/USA Today Sports
  • Drafted: 73rd (Round Three)
  • College: Texas
  • Playing career: 2008-2016 (Chiefs), 2017 (Broncos), 2018 (Jaguars)
  • Career stats: 7,563 yards, 44 touchdowns, 118 games (69 starts)
  • NFL awards: 4x Pro Bowl (2010, 2012-2014), 2x First-team All-Pro (2010, 2013), 1x Second-team All-Pro (2012)

Way before Patrick Mahomes was a star for Kansas City, there was Jamaal Charles. For a time, Charles was considered one of if not the best running back in the NFL. He was third on the depth chart his rookie season but improved throughout the year and became the starter by year two.

He changed the running back position, showing that you can also contribute in the passing game, becoming a reliable catcher out of the backfield. He did have spectacular seasons in Kansas City, which included five seasons surpassing 1,000 yards but had his injuries. In nine seasons, three of them ended early with knee injuries. Still, his four Pro Bowls and three All-Pro selections showed that when healthy, he was a nightmare for opposing defenses.

2. Matt Forte

Credit: Nam Y. Huh/AP Photo
  • Drafted: 44th (Round Two)
  • College: Tulane
  • Playing career: 2008-2015 (Bears), 2016-2017 (Jets)
  • Career stats: 9,796 yards, 54 touchdowns, 146 games (137 starts)
  • NFL awards: 2x Pro Bowl (2011, 2013), 2008 All-Rookie Team

Forte had an excellent senior season for Tulane, rushing for 2,127 yards and 23 touchdowns. He was taken in the second round by the Chicago Bears. He was one of the top running backs in the league during his eight-year tenure with the Bears. During that time, he not only was a threat running the ball but also became a reliable pass catcher which included an NFL record 102 receptions for 808 receiving yards in 2014. He had 1,000+ rushing yards in five seasons with the Bears and continued his production with the New York Jets in 2016 but injuries hurt his 2017 campaign for the Jets. Forte retired soon after and is currently second in yards in Bears history (8,602 yards) and fourth in touchdowns (45)

He may have not had as many Pro Bowls or even All-Pro selections in his long career but there is no question that Forte is considered one of the best running backs coming out of the 2008 NFL Draft.

1. Chris Johnson

Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images
  • Drafted: 24th (Round One)
  • College: East Carolina
  • Playing career: 2008-2013 (Titans), 2014 (Jets), 2015-2017 (Cardinals)
  • Career stats: 9,651 yards, 55 touchdowns, 130 games (111 starts)
  • NFL awards: 3x Pro Bowl (2008-2010), 1x First-team All-Pro (2009), 1x Offensive Player of the Year (2009)

Johnson made noise in the league right away, recording the fastest 40-yard dash at the scouting combine with 4.24 seconds (later broken by John Ross in 2017 with a time of 4.22). Being drafted by the Tennessee Titans with the 24th selection, Johnson came a star right away.

In six seasons with the Titans, Johnson rushed for over 1,000 yards in all six seasons. His 2009 season was his best as he rushed for 2,006 yards and 14 touchdowns. His 2,006-yard season places him 6th all-time for the best single-season rushing yard performance. Johnson’s 2009 season earned him a Pro Bowl nod, First-team All-Pro selection as well as winning Offensive Player of the Year honors. After rushing for 1,077 yards in 2013, the Titans released Johnson and signed with the New York Jets in 2014. During that season, his production went down, rushing for 663 yards and one touchdown.

From 2015-2017, he signed multiple one-year contracts with the Arizona Cardinals. His 2015 season was the best during his tenure with his Cardinals, rushing for 814 yards and three touchdowns. Johnson retired during the 2018 season, signing a one-day contract with Tennessee to retire as a Titan. Johnson is currently placed third in rushing yards (7,965) and touchdowns (50) in Titans’ history.

His tenures with the Jets and Cardinals might not be memorable but his Titans years were memorable. 1,000+ rushing yards in every season for Tennessee, Johnson was one of the top running backs from the 2008 draft class.

1 Comment »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s