A track star in college, Jamaal Charles burst onto the scene in 2009 after Larry Johnson was released. He paid immediate dividends, averaging 5.9 yards per carry for the entire season. That however, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his success.
Despite only starting one game before November, Charles rushed for 1,120 yards and 7 TD. That’s right, he didn’t average nearly six yards per carry on just 50 or 75 carries. He achieved that success on 190 carries, showing that he has the ability to excel all year long.
He also showed that he is an asset in the passing game, catching 40 passes for 297 yards and a touchdown. That capability will help to keep him on the field, no matter what the situation.
Think he’s too small to handle the lumps and bumps of a full NFL season? Just look at his numbers over the final four weeks of the season:
- Week 14 vs. Buffalo – 143 yards and 1 TD plus 7 receptions for 38 yards
- Week 15 vs. Cleveland – 154 yards and 1 TD plus 2 receptions for 16 yards
- Week 16 at Cincinnati – 102 yards plus 3 receptions for 22 yards
- Week 17 at Denver – 259 yards and 2 TD plus 1 reception for 3 yards
Still, the Chiefs thought it would be best to have a viable replacement, in order to make sure that Charles is still fresh for the late season games. That meant the acquisition of Thomas Jones, who is coming off a 1,400 yard season and has five straight seasons of at least 1,100 yards.
It seems odd that he would come in to simply be an understudy, but why would the Chiefs bring him in to start? Charles is clearly the future of the team at the position and proved last year that he could handle the rigors of the NFL. No, Charles should be the top back, while Jones will get his share of carries as well.
Jones’ presence may take some TD opportunities away from Charles (Jones certainly has the potential to be one of the leading TD vultures in the league given his 27 TD over the past two seasons), it shouldn’t downgrade Charles in the least. The Chiefs passing game is not the strongest, so look for them to try and pound the ball on the ground, to try and loosen defenses up. That means there’s going to be plenty of carries to go around.
While Dwayne Bowe will get his yards, Chris Chambers couldn’t cut it in the San Diego Chargers offense. It’s hard to imagine him putting up big numbers with Matt Cassell throwing him the ball.
Charles’ performance last season should have helped to ease a lot of peoples fears, though I think the presence of Jones has helped to suppress his value slightly, currently being drafted as a RB2. The thing is, he’s already proven that he can be significantly more then that.
Yes, he may lose a few TDs, but that’s only if he doesn’t take it to the house himself. Considering he had five rushes of at least forty yards (second to Chris Johnson’s seven), there’s no guarantee that he won’t.
I have him ranked as the fifteenth best running back, right around where he’s being drafted, but he’s certainly an option that I am targeting in the late second/early third rounds. I loved him last season and, even with Jones in place, there’s nothing not to love this year.
What are your thoughts on Charles? Is he someone you are targeting in your drafts? Why or why not?
Make sure to check out our 2010 rankings: