There’s something to be said for a strong running game. It takes the pressure off of the passing game, helps an offense stay ahead of the sticks and can ice a close game. And when it comes down to it, it still helps to win championships. The following players, however, did very little of these things, and that’s what lands them on the list of worst Jets running backs in team history. The criteria: draft position compared to overall productivity since 1977, when the draft began consolidating. (Draft position is by round and overall pick)
Marion Barber, Jr. (2nd round; 30th pick in 1981)
Jets fans will remember this Barber well. Like his son, who played for the Cowboys and Bears, Marion Barber, Jr. came into the league as a high draft pick (also out of Minnesota) with high expectations. Barber, Jr. though, didn’t even come close to meeting them. He spent most of his rookie season riding the pine, attempting only eight rushes for 24 yards all year. It never picked up from there, due in part to the tremendous success of the man taken in the first round, Freeman McNeil. In seven seasons with Jets, Barber rushed the ball just 74 times for a paltry 317 yards and three touchdowns. He retired after the 1988 season, but did give the league two more players – the aforementioned MBIII and his other son, Dominique Barber, a safety.
Roger Vick (1st round; 21st pick in 1987)
Pegged as a potential replacement for Freeman McNeil, who was on the backside of his career, the Texas A&M halfback really had an open backfield to work with. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. In his three seasons with the Jets, he averaged just around seven attempts per game, and never broke off a run of over 40 yards. After the 1989 season, he moved on from the Jets, who drafted Blair Thomas in his place. After one more year with the Eagles, Vick retired with just 1,289 career yards and 10 touchdowns.
Blair Thomas (1st round; 2nd pick in 1990)
Speaking of Blair Thomas, the Penn State product managed to last just one more season than his predecessor, Vick. He had two mediocre seasons to start his career (312 carries, 1,348 yards and four touchdowns), but struggled to stay in the rotation after that, partially due to a case of the fumbles. In his final two years with the Jets, his carries and yards were cut in half and he only took it to the house one time. He spent his last two years in the league with three different teams before calling it quits in 1995.