Matt Williamson is a former scout for the Cleveland Browns and spent the last 10 years at ESPN as a scout and co-host of “The Football Today Podcast.”

How would you build the ideal player? We decided to do exactly that by taking the head, eyes, arm/hands, body, and feet of a great player and assembling the ideal specimen at eight different positions. We also decided that you could only use one aspect of each player – no double dipping allowed. This edition covers running backs.


This is a true professional. Gore is immensely competitive and has stood the test of time. When he arrived at the University of Miami many years ago, Gore was instantly considered one of the most talented rushers in the country.

Over the years, injuries have robbed Gore of much of that innate ability, but because of his vision, knowledge of the game, toughness, and all his other intangibles, he remains a featured back in the NFL. Could the Hall of Fame be next for Gore?


Like a great chess player, McCoy sees the big picture. He can anticipate what defenders he needs to deal with earlier than most running backs. In fact, he is often figuring out how to make the next defender miss before actually dealing with the one right on top of him.

McCoy is not only a tremendous space player, but also shows great vision in tight quarters as an interior runner as well. Obviously, McCoy has the eyes that most backs would kill for, but it doesn’t hurt that he also has outstanding feet to get him to where his eyes tell him to go.


Many think that Johnson could be a starting wide receiver in the NFL and would have an awful lot of value even if he was never handed the football again. While that might be a bit extreme, he is simply a superb player in the passing game, both as a route runner and especially in terms of catching the football and showing off his ball skills.

What makes Johnson so special is that he does all this as a bigger running back with excellent power and downhill abilities with the ball in his hands.


Peterson is a piece of granite with huge, powerful hands and a chiseled, extremely powerful frame. He is taller than most running backs, but very rarely loses any leverage battle and looks as menacing as a Clydesdale in the open field with brute force and high knees.

This future Hall of Famer may actually be underrated in a “greatest backs of all time” conversation. Few in history have had a better body for the running back position than Peterson.


With Bell, the first thing people love to talk about is his rare patience and tendency to stop his feet behind the line of scrimmage while allowing the play and blocks to develop. While that does make Bell unique, that style would be disastrous if he didn’t also have incredibly light feet and the burst to go from 0 to 60 in no time flat.

He also shows a great lateral jump cut while keeping his shoulders parallel to the line of scrimmage – a combination that few can match. Bell catches the ball like Johnson and his eyes are on par with McCoy’s, but without his sweet feet, none of that would matter.

Other entries in the series

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