For the first time in NFL history, two rookies stand atop the list of rushing leaders.
Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott easily won the NFL’s rushing title, finishing with 1,631 yards despite taking Week 17 off. And in something no one could have seen coming at the start of the season, Bears rookie running back Jordan Howard finished second, with 1,313 yards.
That has never happened before in the NFL: Before Elliott only 13 rookies had led the league in rushing, and in none of those seasons had the No. 2 rusher also been a rookie. (Rookies did go 1-2 in rushing twice in the AFL, in 1960 and 1968.)
Elliott, the fourth overall pick in the draft playing in a great offense, was expected to have a big impact as a rookie and exceeded expectations. Howard, the 150th overall pick playing in a bad offense, was a complete surprise.
And so the rookie seasons of Elliott and Howard may lead to some interesting debates heading into the 2017 NFL draft, which has what is expected to be a very strong class of running backs: Do you take a running back with a high pick, or wait for value on Day 3? The Cowboys and Bears took opposite approaches, but both are happy with the results.