- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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In March, we ranked the AFC West quarterbacks after the arrival of Peyton Manning in the division. We are continuing our post-draft tradition of ranking the positions every Monday. Today, we’re look at the tailbacks.
Here are the guidelines: My rankings are based on past play and projected 2012 performances and roles. Rookies are eligible. I only rank players who I am sure will have a role. If I think a third stringer is worthy, I’ll list him. If I don’t think a second stringer is worthy, I won’t list him.
1. Darren McFadden, Oakland: This was a tough choice between McFadden and Jamaal Charles. I went with McFadden because he played more last season and his foot injury was less serious than Charles' knee injury. When healthy, McFadden is a game changer but he has to show durability.
2. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City: I think Charles will come back from his torn ACL. If he still has the same game-breaking speed, the Chiefs will be in great shape.
3. Willis McGahee, Denver: McGahee was my division MVP last season. He will turn 31 this season and he was dinged up last season. I think McGahee can still be very effective if he gets some help. He is a tough player.
4. Ryan Mathews, San Diego: Mathews is a good player and I expect him to be higher on this list next year. Entering his third year, Mathews could be a breakout player if he stays healthy and focused.
5. Peyton Hillis, Kansas City: He was an intriguing pickup in free agency. Hillis is a tough runner who will help the Chiefs.
6. Taiwan Jones, Oakland: I would like to see Oakland get a veteran running back and make Jones a change-of-pace option and not McFadden’s primary backup. I think Jones will be most effective that way.
7. Ronnie Hillman, Denver: He is a home-run hitter who could excel in Manning’s offense. I expect exciting things from this third-round pick.
8. Knowshon Moreno, Denver: I’m only putting Moreno here because he was a first-round pick three years ago. He is coming off a torn ACL and an arrest for drunk driving. He could surprise me, but I’m not expecting much.
In March, we ranked the AFC West quarterbacks after the arrival of Peyton Manning in the division. We are continuing our post-draft tradition of ranking the positions every Monday.