When most people think of the top 20 running backs of all time, they think of players like Walter Payton, Jim Brown, Emmitt Smith, and Barry Sanders. When looking at the top 20 running backs when ranked by career rushing yards, there is one name that many people don’t expect to see. That player is Warrick Dunn, and without a doubt he was one of the more underrated runners of his era.
Warrick Dunn started his career in 1997 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and quickly became half of a great backfield tandem with fullback Mike Alstott. Dunn and Alstott put up great numbers together, and would finish ranked 2nd (Alstott) and 3rd (Dunn) all time in rushing yards in team history. He would also prove himself a great receiver out of the backfield, topping out with 68 receptions in 2001. Dunn would leave the Buccaneers for the Atlanta Falcons for the 2002 season, missing being part of the Tampa Bay Super Bowl winning team by one year. In Atlanta, he would enjoy great success, including putting up three 1,000 yard seasons. After six seasons in Atlanta, Dunn returned for one final year back where it all started in Tampa Bay, and then hung up the jersey for good.
Warrick Dunn finished his 12 year NFL career in 2008 with 10,967 yards rushing. This put him at 19th on the all time NFL career rushing yards list. This put him less than 1,200 yards behind greats like Franco Harris, Thurman Thomas, John Riggins, and O.J. Simpson, all members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This also put him ahead of greats like Jamal Lewis, Tiki Barber, Eddie George, Ottis Anderson, Joe Perry, Earl Campbell, Roger Craig, and Larry Csonka. He would also win the 1997 Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, be voted to three Pro Bowls during his career, and be named the winner of the 2004 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. Not bad for a guy who many people considered at best a role player or half of a one-two punch. When it came down to it, Warrick Dunn was a heck of a complete running back.