When it comes to the running back position in the NFL, 27 is the age when the production starts to decline and after 30, it is rare to find a productive back at that age. While Adrian Peterson at 35 continues to defy the odds at the position, there is another player in the NFL that is doing the same […]
When it comes to the running back position in the NFL, 27 is the age when the production starts to decline and after 30, it is rare to find a productive back at that age. While Adrian Peterson at 35 continues to defy the odds at the position, there is another player in the NFL that is doing the same thing….and his name is Frank Gore. Before we get the pro career, let’s quickly go over his college career.
Gore started his football career at the University of Miami, where he was productive during his time with the Hurricanes, but he tore his ACL twice during his college career, so we were never able to see his true full potential if he was fully healthy. Still, his 1,975 career rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns during his time gained a lot of interest from NFL teams.
Gore was selected in the third round (65th overall) of the 2005 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. While he did not make a huge impact in his rookie season, he established himself as a top back in 2006 when he rushed for 1,695 yards and eight touchdowns, earning a Pro Bowl nod and All-Pro Second Team selection in the process. During his 10 year stint in the Bay Area, Gore rushed for 11,073 yards and 64 touchdowns, which places him first and second respectively when it comes to the 49ers’ career rushing leader list. Outside of the 2006 accolades, he earned four other trips to the Pro Bowl as a 49er.
He signed with the Indianapolis Colts in 2014 offseason and during his three years there, he rushed for over 950 yards every season (including a 1,025 2016 season) and 13 total touchdowns. He signed with the Miami Dolphins in 2018 and rushed for another 722 yards. This past season, he signed with the Buffalo Bills and became a solid contributor and veteran leader, helping the team make a playoff appearance. That being said, he did post his lowest total yards in his career with 599 yards to go along with two touchdowns.
Currently, Gore is a free agent and has expressed that he would be interested in playing another season. While he may not be the 1,000 bruiser he once was in San Fran, he can be a great leader and play some spot duty for any playoff team looking to make a Super Bowl run.
15 seasons, over 10,000 rushing yards, 80 touchdowns, and multiple Pro Bowl selections. It is safe to say Gore has had a great career. As stated earlier, he was selected in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft with five other running backs selected before him. Who were those running backs? Let’s take a look and see how their careers stacked up against him.
- Drafted: 2nd (1st Round)
- Team: Miami Dolphins
- Career Stats: 1,281 carries, 5,391 yards, 38 touchdowns, 132 games (74 starts)
Brown had a solid career at Auburn, sharing the backfield with a fellow 2005 draft class member that will be mentioned later. He only started 21 of the 47 career games he played but ranks 7th in school history in rushing yards (2,707) and 5th in rushing touchdowns (28).
He ended up being the first running back selected in 2005 to the Miami Dolphins. With Ricky Williams dealing with suspensions, the team hoped that Brown would be the star running back they had hoped for. Brown had a solid tenure in Miami but really never lived up to his second overall selection. In six seasons with the Dolphins, Brown only had one 1,000 yard season (1,008 in 2006) and was only named to one Pro Bowl (2008).
After his tenure with the Dolphins ended, he bounced around between the Philadelphia Eagles, San Diego Chargers, and Houston Texans but never posted more than 250 yards in a single season (his best came in 2012 with the Chargers where he had 220 yards). On top of that, he only scored two touchdowns in four seasons in his post Dolphins run. While Brown was solid, he never lived up with the number two overall selection. Safe to say Gore has had the better career.
- Drafted: 4th (1st Round)
- Team: Chicago Bears
- Career Stats: 1,600 carries, 6,017 yards, 32 touchdowns, 96 games (71 starts)
Benson was an absolute BEAST at the University of Texas. During his four seasons, he posted over 1,000 yards every season and ended his career with 5,540 yards and 69 touchdowns. No, that was not a typo…..the guy was an animal.
Chicago drafted him 4th overall in hopes his college game would translate in the pros. Sadly, his Bears tenure did not last long. He ended up losing his starting job to Thomas Jones due to injuries and inconsistent play. Some off-field troubles eventually led to his release after three seasons.
He had a career resurgence when he signed with the Cincinnati Bengals, posting three 1,000 plus yard seasons in four seasons (his best season came in 2009 with 1,251 yards and six touchdowns). The team opted not to bring him back and joined the Green Bay Packers in 2012 but only played in five games before being placed on injured reserved with a Lisfranc injury.
Sadly, Benson passed away on August 17, 2019, due to a motorcycle crash.
- Drafted: 5th (1st Round)
- Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Career Stats: 1,055 carries, 4,038 yards, 21 touchdowns, 81 games (58 starts)
Ronnie Brown’s backfield teammate, Carnell “Cadillac” Williams had a solid tenure at Auburn, with his 45 rushing touchdowns being a school record. He was drafted 5th overall by the Buccaneers.
Williams had a very strong start to his career, rushing for 1,178 yards and six touchdowns in his rookie season, which earned him Offensive Rookie of the Year. His production went up and down after that, never posting another 1,000-yard season while also struggling with injuries.
The Buccaneers did not re-sign him after the 2010 season. Williams signed with the St. Louis Rams and was a backup to Steven Jackson, ending his one year tenure with 361 yards and one touchdown. He now is the running backs coach at his alma mater. One bright season but did not meet expectations for a 5th overall selection. No doubt Gore has had a better career.
- Drafted: 44th (2nd Round)
- Team: Arizona Cardinals
- Career Stats: 183 carries, 654 yards, three touchdowns, 58 games (eight starts)
Arrington started his college career at College of the Canyons before transferring to the University of California. His final season was a memorable one, where he rushed for 2,018 yards and 15 touchdowns on 6.98 yards per carry.
He was selected in the second round by the Cardinals as was slated to be the starter. After a poor Week 1 performance (five yards on eight carries), he was benched in Week 2 but returned in play in every game but in limited snaps.
Arrington was mainly used as a special teamer and kick returner for the remainder of his time with the team. His best season was his rookie season, posting 370 yards to go along with two touchdowns. He never took another regular-season snap after his time in Arizona was up after two offseason stints with the Denver Broncos and Philadelphia Eagles. Imagine Frank Gore in Arizona, especially during that team’s Super Bowl XLIII run?
- Drafted: 54th (2nd Round)
- Team: Carolina Panthers
- Career Stats: eight carries, 23 yards, nine games
The last running back taken before Gore was Shelton. After splitting his college career at Florida State and Louisville, the Panthers selected him in the second round.
Shelton’s NFL career never had any success, as a broken foot in the preseason ended his rookie year before it could even begin. His sophomore was also a struggle, being activated for only nine games. He was released by the team after the 2006 season. Safe to say Gore has had the better career.