Where does Felix Jones stack up against the other 31 starting RBs?

My buddy Chia over at Blogging the Boys asked the question whether Felix Jones is a bust or not.  Chia does a good job profiling the other RBs taken in the 2008 draft, and 67% of the readers polled think that Felix is indeed a “bust.”

Felix is in his 4th year as a pro.  Usually, if a player is going to be a force in the league, they would have already put together a big season by the end of their 4th year. Some late bloomers exist of course, like Fred Jackson, but if you’re not producing by now, it certainly raises a red flag. Felix can still be a good NFL back, but as of right now, he’s not getting it done.

Felix looked like the real deal his rookie season before he was lost after 6 games with a hamstring injury, which he injured further when rehabbing.  At the time he was shelved for the season, he had 30 carries for 266 (a ridiculous 8.9 per carry), and 3 TDs.  He also returned a kickoff for a TD against Philly.  His yards per carry since:

– 2009 – 5.9 (obviously still awesome).

– 2010 – 4.3.

– 2011 – 4.0.

Is the regression due his OL getting older and older from 2008 to 2010, and then a complete turnover to extreme youth in 2011?  Maybe, although I think that’s really giving Felix a major pass.  Felix looked great in the preseason, and many people (myself included) thought this could be his breakout season.  It hasn’t gone as planned.  He was unproductive early, hurt his shoulder, and is now likely to miss Sunday’s matchup against the Rams.

Anyway, I wanted to piggyback on Chia’s post and look at the entire league, and see where Felix fits in.  I have him somewhere around the 19th to 22nd best RB in the league.

First, the backs I think are clearly better, in no particular order:

Player Team Better than Felix? Comment
Matt Forte Bears Yes Mudder in the run game, force in the passing game. Career production far better than Felix.
Fred Jackson Bills Yes Well, he has 601 yards on 106 carries (5.7) this season, so… yeah.
LeGarrette Blount Buccaneers Yes Different styles, but I’ll take Blount.
Ryan Mathews Chargers Yes I’ll be honest here. This is pure internet scouting, as I haven’t seen much of Mathews, but the guy is on pace for 2156 yards from scrimmage this season. Great situation in that offense, but give me Mathews, please.
Jamaal Charles Chiefs Yes Even with the torn ACL, I’ll take my chances with Charles.
LeSean McCoy Eagles Yes No question.
Michael Turner Falcons Yes During the span that Felix has been in the league, Turner has amassed 4440 rushing yards and 45 rushing TDs.
Ahmad Bradshaw Giants Yes The knock on Bradshaw is his fumbling. He has 1 this year through 6 games, although his YPC is down. Still, clearly a better player at this point.
Maurice Jones-Drew Jaguars Yes Easy call here.
Frank Gore Niners Yes Nasty player. No question here.
DeAngelo Williams Panthers Yes Similarly injury-prone as Felix. Williams has, however, proven that when healthy, he’s a star player. 2008 numbers: 273-1515-18. Felix has shown flashes of being the kind of player Williams has been. Williams has actually done it.
Darren McFadden Raiders Yes Another one of Felix’s ex-Arkansas teammates. Next.
Steven Jackson Rams Yes In the 2004 draft, Jerry Jones was sitting at 22 with Steven Jackson still on the board. Their running back the previous season was Troy Hambrick. I could almost hear Cowboys fans pulling out their credit cards ready to buy their new Steven Jackson jerseys, when… the Cowboys traded out. Got great value on the trade… but… probably should have just taken Jackson. That trade didn’t work out for anybody. Jackson wound up stuck in St. Louis, the Cowboys would select RB Julius Jones, TE Sean Ryan and DE Marcus Spears with the picks they acquired, and Buffalo (the team that traded up with Dallas) took JP Losman. Oof.
Ray Rice Ravens Yes Drafted a round later than Felix, Rice has far outperformed.
Rashard Mendenhall Steelers Yes Again, different styles, but Mendenhall’s production is far better.
Arian Foster Texans Yes Slowed by injuries this season, but I think Foster’s 2010 number kinda speak for themselves.
Chris Johnson Titans Yes Johnson had the same number of yards in the 2009 season as Felix Jones has for his career.
Adrian Peterson Vikings Yes No comment.

(The rest of the RBs after the jump)…

The guys that are sort of in Felix’s league:

Player Team Better than Felix? Comment
Beanie Wells Cardinals Needs more info Decent rookie season (176-793-7), followed by a down 2nd year (116-397-2) on a God-awful offense, playing well in his 3rd season (79-381-6) in just 4 games. Very different style than Felix. Does nothing in the passing game.
Peyton Hillis Browns Needs more info Drafted in the 7th round the same year as Felix, and went to college with him. One year wonder so far. If given the choice between the 2 players, I’ll take Felix.
Cedric Benson Bengals Debatable, but I’ll take Felix. It took Benson some time to become a productive RB, and there’s even some debate if you can call him that based on his yards per carry. Brings some off-the-field baggage to the table.

Felix is currently better:

Player Team Better than Felix? Comment
Knowshon Moreno Broncos No Also a disappointment so far. 4.0 YPC in his short career, and he fumbles.
Joseph Addai Colts No Better start to his career than Felix, but he too can’t stay healthy, and doesn’t have the raw talent that Felix does.
Reggie Bush Dolphins No Felix, please.
Shonn Greene Jets No He was benched this week (sort of).
Jahvid Best Lions No Oof, tough one here. With the concussion concerns, how long is Best even going to be able to play in the NFL? Like Best’s game better, but I think if given the choice between Felix and Best, I’ll take Felix.
James Starks Packers No Starks is only in his second year, so it’s tough to judge him right now, but I think if you put Felix in that offense, he’s a bigger weapon.
BenJarvis Green-Ellis Patriots No I’m not even sure who to pick from the Pats, honestly. Woodhead? Law firm? Ridley? Doesn’t matter. Felix is better than all three, and would likely produce more in that offense.
Tim Hightower Redskins No I like Tim Hightower, but… no.
Mark Ingram Saints No Another weird situation here. If I had the option of Darren Sproles or Felix Jones to add to my team, I think I’m taking Sproles, but I don’t really view him as a starting NFL RB, so we won’t use him. Ingram is probably that guy long term in N.O., and I haven’t seen much from him early in his career.
Marshawn Lynch Seahawks No Everyone remembers that ridiculous run in the playoffs last year, and the Beast Mode teeth, but really, Lynch isn’t anything special. I’ll take Felix.

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  16. Jonathan says:

    Really great article. You are to the Eagles what Chia is to the Cowboys.

    Both of you are “pro bowl” writers

  17. jon says:

    if felix goes to another team he’s gonna explode. mark it. He can’t succed with this mediocre OL , by the way you said he reminds you of deangelo, i remember deangelo was a late success, he broke out even when jonatahn was already on carolina, felix would have exploded if weren’t for phil costa and bill nagy

  18. Rohpuri says:

    Really good analysis. Can’t disagree with it.

  19. ChiaCrack says:

    Seriously, your site is really good. Excellent analysis while being neutral at the same time. I really respect that because its so easy to just be like, “Felix sucks”, you actually presented the other RB’s you would take over Felix, the ones that are equal and the ones you wouldn’t take over Felix.

    Amazing stuff dude

  20. ChiaCrack says:

    Great article Jimmy, thanks for the love dude. My personal picks in 2008 were Ray Rice (a local product by me) and Jamaal Charles. I like Felix as a person, great dude. I think he has great physical ability, but is injury prone and has failed as a #1 pick. Hopefully he turns it around, but I am skeptical.

    DeMarco Murray is the present and future now, he is bigger than Jones and runs with more authority. He was also a workhorse for OU. If he doesn’t pan out, its time to go after a Trent Richardson or a big named free agent back.

    By the way I was a huge Shady fan, too bad we didn’t land him.

    I think of all the RB’s from 2008, Ray Rice might be the guy I crave most now. He can run and is actually physical, plus he can catch the ball.

    Great article

  21. DerfDiggy says:

    J. Charles and Ray Rice would look fantastic with stars on their helmets:( *sigh*

    1. ChiaCrack says:

      funny, those were my picks

  22. bula says:

    i guess he’s not 10 times better than brian westbrook after all. anyone remember which cowboy made this ridiculous statement?

  23. Bigbad Joe says:

    very fair analysis, while being a cowboys fan, i might take Best over Mr Jones as well, Felix has not shown that he can be a “durable” back either…..

    Was hoping that this was going to be the breakout year, but alas….

    and to make matters worse, am in Chicago, so get to watch Forte every week

  24. Immynimmy says:

    I really thought that Felix was gonna be a pro bowl RB in 2009 and that Marion Barber was going to be his backup. Turns out they are both bad and Choice is just average at best.

    1. Immynimmy says:

      Oops, I meant *after* 2009

    2. ChiaCrack says:

      Choice sucks

      Jimmy made a great point at BTB the other day on how fans over estimate his trade value, some fans are delusional some are beyond delusional

  25. KD says:

    Wants to argue… badly… can’t.

    Hangs head in shame and walks away.

  26. Skinsational says:

    No love for Hightower? Bias! Lol, jk. Good post. I would take Beanie and Jahvid over Jones but its close.

  27. Tron says:

    Remember how badly everyone wanted knowshon on the eagles…

    So glad we got shady

    1. ChiaCrack says:

      that worked out, lol

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