NFL running back Maurice Jones-Drew has three straight 1,300-yard seasons to his name, the most recent of which came just last season, when he finished the year as the league leader in carries and rushing yards after running the ball 343 times for 1,606 yards.
Today an established veteran in the league, it wasn’t so long ago that Jones-Drew was believed to be just a change-of-pace back whose biggest chance to make a name for himself probably would come on special teams. Selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the third round of the 2006 NFL draft, his ability to become an every-down back in the league was heavily doubted with him standing at just 5’7” and 208 pounds.
Entering the 2010 NFL draft, 5’6”, 196-pound running back Jacquizz Rodgers faced similar doubts. Despite carrying the ball nearly 800 times and recording over 150 receptions in his three-year career at Oregon State, scouts questioned his durability. When the Falcons selected him with their fifth-round draft pick that year, many concluded Atlanta got a great change-of-pace back with above-average pass-catching skills, but one who didn’t have the frame to take on a starting role.