Just How Good Was Edgerrin James’ 1999 Rookie Season?

Posted Jun 9, 2016

Intro: The folks at ‘NFL HQ’ this week ranked the 10 best rookie seasons by a running back all-time in NFL history, featuring Colts legend Edgerrin James’ 1999 campaign.

INDIANAPOLIS — Heading into the 1999 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts knew they had to get a stud at the running back position.

With future Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk departing for St. Louis — and with Peyton Manning entering just his second year in the league — the offense needed to refresh the three-headed monster it was building with Manning and wide receiver Marvin Harrison.

Get this pick wrong, and your offense could be playing catch-up for many more years to come.

But, fortunately for the Colts, they picked just right.

With the fourth-overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft, Indianapolis selected Edgerrin James out of Miami. An all-around back with tons of speed (he ran a 4.38-yard 40-yard dash), James was picked over Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams, and ended up fitting in perfectly alongside Manning and the Colts’ offense.

James would put in one of the greatest years ever by a rookie running back in NFL history, and this week, the folks at “NFL HQ” ranked it No. 9 on their list.

Here’s what James accomplished in that 1999 season:

  • In 16 games, all starts, he had 369 rushes for 1,553 yards (4.2 yards per carry) with 13 rushing touchdowns. He also proved to be extremely valuable as a pass catcher out of the backfield, as he finished with an impressive 62 receptions for 586 yards and four receiving touchdowns.
  • He was voted the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year and won the NFL rushing title, as well as being voted to his first Pro Bowl.
  • Perhaps most importantly to James, the team blossomed as a whole, finishing 13-3 and setting the tone for all kinds of success moving forward.

Perhaps not surprisingly, James, a 2012 Colts Ring of Honor inductee, would go on to produce one of the best careers by a running back in NFL history, finishing with 3,028 rushes for 12,246 yards and 80 touchdowns, ranking 11th all-time in rushing yards.

He’s the Colts’ all-time leading rusher (attempts, yards and touchdowns), and it all wouldn’t have been possible without the franchise taking a chance on him way back in 1999.
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