Kareem Hunt still has some doubters to prove wrong
By Matt Conner
A new set of running back rankings from Gregg Rosenthal bring up a question mark around Kareem Hunt that keeps him from the credit he deserves.
Rankings and lists and slideshows. We post ’em. Everyone does. It doesn’t mean they’re worth anything, at least in terms of substance. When the NFL calendar hits its lowest point, it’s easy to turn to such easily post-able fodder to fill the summer months before training camp.
I bring this up because a new list of the NFL’s best running backs shouldn’t even draw my attention, but here we are in July and I decided to click. Gregg Rosenthal posted his latest RB rankings over at NFL.com, and I scrolled to see if there were any surprises up top. What caught me off guard was not only that I had to keep scrolling a bit in order to find Kareem Hunt, but it was specifically what he said about Hunt. Here’s the full write-up:
"Was it the Chiefs’ scheme or Hunt’s ability that led to his rookie season? Yes. Give Hunt room, and he can take any play the distance. While he might not possess the one standout trait that makes the players above special, Hunt does everything asked of him well. Running backs like Hunt, who break tackles inside and catch passes outside, tilt the field, offering more flexibility in play calls and tempo."
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When I read that, I come away with one primary question: did Andy Reid make Kareem Hunt great? To summarize Rosenthal, Hunt is good or even very good at several things but not great at any of them, so the fact he led the NFL in rushing and put up another 455 receiving yards is likely due to having offensive guru as head coach.
Yes, Hunt is very good at a lot of things. In fact, he’s likely one of the three or four most well-rounded running backs in the game. Rosenthal even admits that he can take any play “the distance” with his speed, but how many top speed backs also boast the toughness that breaks more tackles than anyone else in the game?
Even more, Alvin Kamara is at No. 5 overall, a fellow rookie. Did he not benefit from having an offensive guru as a coach in Sean Payton? And did he also not have Mark Ingram on offense as the bellcow? Could Alvin Kamara really carry a running game or is he the ultimate complementary back in the NFL?
These lists are silly and not really worth our time, but it’s possible, as we see here, for some people to believe that Kareem Hunt is a very good running back and nothing more—a man lucky enough to play for Andy Reid. I’d contest that the Chiefs knew what they were doing when they traded up to get Hunt. I also believe the Chiefs were lucky to find him.