The Best Pass Catching Running Backs Of All Time

Over 80 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Best Pass Catching Running Backs Of All Time
Voting Rules

Vote up the best pass catching RBs who made an impact in the passing game.

Who is the best pass catching running back of all time? When it comes to the best running backs in NFL history, most fans think about punishing rushes up the middle through big holes created by offensive linemen from the best running backs of all time. However, as the league constantly evolves, running backs who can catch the ball and pick up extra first downs in the passing game add so much value to their teams. Pass catching RBs become more common each year. Who are the best pass catching running backs of all time? Which of the best receiving running backs in NFL history do you love?

When it comes to the best pass catching RBs of all time, St. Louis Rams' running back Marshall Faulk has a resume up there with anyone. He leads the NFL in receptions and receiving yards by a running back all time. The best pass catching running backs of all time include the likes of Darren Sproles, Matt Forte, and Walter Payton who all added so much to the offense with their hands. Then there's still Austin Ekeler to contend with, as one of the greatest pass catching running backs in the NFL right now.

Vote up the best pass catching running backs in NFL history, and help decide which receiving running back owns the title belt! 

Most divisive: James White

  • One of the best and most acclaimed running backs in the history of the NFL, Marshall Faulk revolutionized the position by showing that a running back could catch passes and get downfield like the best receivers in the game. Faulk is not only one of the all-time rushing leaders, but he also managed to accumulate a record-setting 6,875 receiving yards on top of this throughout his 12-year career. An explosive runner who averaged an astounding 9 yards per reception and scored 36 touchdowns via receptions, Faulk revolutionized the game with his ability to be the best dual-threat the league has ever seen.

    • Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana
    • Team: Indianapolis Colts, St. Louis Rams
  • LaDainian Tomlinson
    Photo: los angeles chargers / instagram

    A Hall of Fame running back, MVP, Pro Bowler, and record holder for most touchdowns in a single season, LaDainian Tomlinson was undoubtedly one of the very best running backs to ever play the game of football. He will always be remembered for his astonishing rushing ability, garnering over 1,100 yards in 8 out of his 11 seasons in the league, but Tomlinson was also a fantastic receiving threat for the San Diego Chargers, gaining over 350 yards in the passing game each year he was with the team. Tomlinson had power, finesse, speed, and hand-eye coordination to be one of the most deadly dual threats the league has ever seen.

    • Birthplace: Rosebud, Texas
    • Team: San Diego Chargers, New York Jets
  • Christian McCaffrey
    Photo: 49ers / instagram
    58 votes

    Christian McCaffrey

    During the first three seasons of his professional career, Christian McCaffrey looked as though he had the potential to be the best running back the game had ever seen. He became only the third NFL player to rush for 1,000 yards while adding 1,000 receiving yards in the same season. McCaffrey has a long way to go to become the all time great, but if he stays healthy, he is going to continue to break records and set the league on fire!

    • Birthplace: Castle Rock, Colorado
    • Team: San Francisco 49ers, Carolina Panthers
  • Roger Craig
    Photo: flickr / CC0
    82 votes

    3-time Super Bowl champion and former Offensive Player of the Year Roger Craig was the first player in NFL history to have 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in the same season (a feat later achieved by only Marshall Faulk and Christian McCaffrey). Craig never put up otherworldly numbers like some on this list, but he had a knack for getting into space with the ball. Whether he was running that ball down opposing teams' throats or being a dangerous downfield threat, Craig was a fantastic back who helped create a dynasty in San Francisco.

    • Birthplace: Davenport, Iowa
    • Team: San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Raiders, Minnesota Vikings
  • Throughout his 13-year-long illustrious career, Thurmon Thomas became a Hall of Famer by winning MVPs, reaching Pro Bowls, and becoming Offensive Player of the Year. Thomas was one of the deadliest running backs of the 90s. While his emphasis was undoubtedly running the ball down the throats of the defense, Thomas was also an incredible aerial threat, garnering over 200 receiving yards in 10 of his 12 years in the league. Thomas accumulated 4,458 career receiving yards, ranking him 15th all-time among running backs. However, he ranks #1 overall in postseason receiving yards among RBs.

    • Birthplace: Houston, Texas
    • Team: Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins
  • Walter Payton
    Photo: chicago bears / instagram
    33 votes

    One of the most celebrated athletes in professional sports, Walter Payton was a generational and transcending running back for the Chicago Bears who redefined the game and changed what it meant to be a professional, both on and off the field. On the field, Payton accumulated a ludicrous 16,726 rushing yards and an equally impressive 4,538 receiving yards. Speed, strength, grit, and IQ all helped Payton become a Super Bowl champion, an MVP, and even have an entirely new award set after him, the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.

    • Birthplace: Columbia, Mississippi
    • Team: Chicago Bears