As Tim Tebow and Cam Newton can attest to, being able to run the ball is a great asset to a young QB. The NFL game is a much faster and more complex sport than at the college level so sometimes, hell, more times than not, it’s easier to tuck it than chuck it. The key to turning a good pair of legs into a career though, is being able to balance those runs with an equal amount of throws. That’s not always the easiest thing to do but it is possible, as shown by the five guys below on this list.
Now, many will argue that this list doesn’t represent the best order of rushing QB’s, I have the current leader in that category sitting third, but it’s about all the intangibles as well. You have to be able to do more than run to become a great QB and that’s the one thing these 5 guys have in common, they could do more than sprint down a field.
Being able to run is a great skill when harnessed correctly and on this list, every guy was able to do it to a successful conclusion.
1. Steve Young
There may be two others that hold an edge to Steve Young in amount of yards rushed, career wise, by a QB but make no mistake about it, if you are a QB that can run, then Young is who you want to emulate. The Hall of Fame, Super Bowl MVP, former San Francisco 49ers signal caller had the rare gift of explosive speed combined with deadly accuracy. Thanks, perhaps, to the coaching guidance of Bill Walsh, Young was able to maximize both aspects of his gift. For his career, he compiled 4239 rushing yards and a 5.9 YPC, as well as an NFL record 43 rushing touchdowns (the most ever by a QB). To balance that, he also holds the NFL record for the highest career quarterback rating at 96.8.
2. Randall Cunningham
Once anointed by Sports Illustrated as the NFL’s “Ultimate Weapon”, Randall Cunningham was the first rushing QB to showcase game-breaking running ability on a weekly basis. Over his 16 year career that included 4 Pro Bowls, Cunningham would amass 4482 yards and 32 TDs with 6.6 YPC average on an NFL QB record 775 rushes. His greatest rushing season came in 1990 when led the Eagles in rushing and produced the third-highest quarterback total of 924 yards.
3. Michael Vick
If you were basing this top 5 list on pure running ability, then Michael Vick would be at the top of the list. Vick currently hold the record for the most rushing yards by a QB at 5,002 and did it in only nine season. He takes the term ‘explosive runner’ to new heights as he is an every down threat to take it to the house with his legs. While still a member of the Atlanta Falcons back in 2006, Vick broke the single season QB rushing record with 1,039 yards. If he could ever evolve into more of a passing threat, then Vick has the chance to leapfrog to the top of this lest and may one day be wearing his own gold jacket in Canton.
4. Donovan McNabb
Is it me or does a lot of rushing QB’s make their way to Philadelphia. I mean, we are talking Randall Cunningham, Michael Vick, Vince Young and, of course, who could forget Donovan McNabb. McNabb, who is nearing the end of his football career at 13 seasons so far, is one of the most entertaining personalities that the league has ever seen. Thankfully for him, and for us, he was also gifted with a rocket for an arm and a pretty serviceable pair of legs. Never one to embrace the title of a ‘running QB’, McNabb nonetheless compiled some pretty impressive stats on the ground over his career. Over his 13 current years in the league, McNabb has managed to rush for 3459 yards and 29 Tds.
5. Fran Tarkenton
How can you have a top rushing QB list and not include the man known as the ‘Mad Scrambler’? The answer is, you can’t, so I’m throwing Tarkenton on here as my fifth greatest rushing QB of all time. The Hall of Fame QB rushed for 3,674 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns on 675 carries during his illustrious career, including an NFL record rushing touchdown in 15 straight seasons. What makes his running stats even more impressive is that Tarkenton did it in an era where the QB position was basically drop back and stand there. When Tarkenton retired in 1981, he held the NFL records for pass attempts, completions, yardage, and touchdowns; rushing yards by a quarterback; and wins by a starting quarterback. Now that’s a complete QB.
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