The 28-year-old tailback is being properly recognized for his record-breaking 2011 season, in which he accumulated an NFL-record 2,696 all-purpose yards. Sproles was ranked as the top running back in the NFL by Bleacher Report, in the site's latest edition of the NFL 1,000 list.
Sproles heads up the pack of the league's 80-best running backs, a list that includes other elite backs like Maurice Jones-Drew (No. 2), Ray Rice (No. 3) and Arian Foster (No. 4). Adrian Peterson, widely considered as the league's premier halfback, came in at just No. 6 on the list after a less than Peterson-like 2011 campaign.
The Patriots were well represented on the list, with a pair of backs on the list. Rookie halfback Stevan Ridley came in at No. 37 on the list, giving the Patriots their first and only definite representative on the list. New England's only other back on the list was Kevin Faulk, who missed the majority of the 2011 season following knee surgery. Faulk ranked No. 28 on the list, and may or may not be back in a Patriots uniform next season.
NFL 1,000 is a comprehensive ranking of the top 1,000 players in football, with the full list of the top-1,000 players set to be released on Thursday.
More NFL 1,000 Rankings: Quarterbacks I Fullbacks I Left Tackles I Right Tackles I Centers I Right Guards I Tight Ends I Left Guards I Punters I Kickers I Strong Safeties I Free Safeties I Defensive EndsI Defensive Tackles I Inside Linebackers I Outside Linebackers I Wide Receivers
Photo via Facebook/Darren Sproles