One of the three is on the cover of Madden this year, which was voted for by the people.
The second is one of the faces of the Dallas Cowboys, which automatically brings a visibility, notoriety, and recognition that money, draft position, or ability cannot buy.
The third plays in Siberia.
Regardless of the fact that the third plays in Siberia, there’s no doubt in my mind that he is on his way to being not only a premier back in the NFL, but Darren McFadden is on his way to being one of the ten best running backs in the entire league. Yes, an Oakland Raider, in 2011, will be one of the best players at his position very soon.
Now it wasn't always this way. When the Raiders first drafted him, I was furious and was convinced we'd seen the best of McFadden, because, well, he went to the Raiders. Fortunately, he's played well so far, and it has allowed me to make the bold proclamation above.
In the eyes of my partner-in-crime, being the third, fourth, or fifth-best running back in football, let alone top ten, doesn’t really mean much. The logic is there isn’t much stability at that position, nor does having a top running back make the difference in winning a Super Bowl. All of that is very valid, but I still believe that Darren McFadden is on his way to being the back that some of us envisioned when he was doing work in the SEC.
In his first three years in the league, McFadden has shown us glimpses of what we all saw as a two-time Heisman runner-up and Doak Walker winner, and last year, he truly separated himself from the rest of the Oakland Raiders backfield. We already knew he could run the ball, but he also showed the ability to catch it out of the backfield, as well as being as physical as can be at the position.
The man didn’t shy from contact one bit, and to take it a step further, he even seemed to welcome it. If only the Raiders had a few bounces go their way, the 2011 postseason would have been the coming out party for McFadden. However, it was postponed to the start of this season, where everything is in place for the young man to do his thing.
As I alluded to earlier, running back is one of those positions that has a strange correlation between winning and notoriety. With the exception of Adrian Peterson, the running backs we see that normally occupy the top spot don’t play for teams who are gonna win anyway, so it’s not like it will take the Raiders having to win 11-12 games for people to notice McFadden and his place in the running back pantheon in the league.
It will happen regardless, and it won’t just be Raiders fans or McFadden Stans like myself who will have to carry the mantle for him too much longer. This year, the masses are gonna know that Darren McFadden is for real.