Darren Sproles: Greatest All-Purpose Threat Ever?
A lot of attention has been given to Matt Forte’s torrid start to the year and Wes Welker’s record-shattering pace but there’s another player who is on pace to set a record: Saints RB Darren Sproles. After 7 games, Sproles has piled up a whopping 1,115 all-purpose yards (rushing yards + receiving yards + kick/punt return yards). He’s currently on pace to get 2,549 yards by the end of the year, which would top any other running back in history (and be third all time). Here are the top 20 All Purpose Yard seasons since the 1970 AFL/NFL merger:
As you can see, it’s mostly a mix of great kick returners (Hall, Mitchell, Washington, Lewis) and great running backs (Sanders, Tomlinson, Faulk). Here are Sproles’ numbers through 7 games, as well as his projected pace over 16 games:
Thus far, Sproles’ yards-per-game pace is fourth best all-time. What’s especially impressive about Sproles’ pace is that he’s on track to get over 500 yards rushing, 500 yards receiving and 1,000 yards returning – something which has never been done. One year wonder Lionel James is the closest; his 1985 season being perhaps the best “all purpose” season in the truest sense of the word. Despite his great 1985 season, James never topped 700 all purpose yards in any of his 4 other seasons.
If the Saints’ diminutive running back can keep up his pace, he could be considered the best “All-Purpose” threat of all-time. To top it off, Sproles is putting up these numbers despite the new kickoff rule. Were kickoffs still at the 30-yard line, Sproles’ numbers would likely be even more impressive.