Not only is Charles one of the best ball carriers in the league right now, he's ranked the best ever in one category — and it's a pretty important one.
Charles is the NFL career leader with 5.9 yards per carry. Marion Motley is next up with 5.7, but he started his career way back in 1946. The legendary Bo Jackson is third with 5.4 yards per carry in his brief four-year career.
One of the biggest myths about Charles is that he's not a complete back and that he only amounts those yards on big runs to the outside. In Charles' career, he's averaged 5.4 yards on runs up the middle, 6.2 on runs to the left side and 4.2 on carries to the right side. His biggest chunks come to the sideline where he averages 7.2 to the left and 6.2 to the right. Even if you only included Charles' runs up the middle, he'd still be tied as the second best running back in yards per carry.
Charles mixes great agility with surprising strength, but his greatest strengths come in his balance and breakaway ability. No one busts out big runs quite like Charles. In 2012 alone, Charles has six runs of 15 yards or more and has 256 yards on those six carries. In 2010 Charles had 18 runs for over 15 yards and in 2009 he had 11. Charles may not absorb contact like a Marshawn Lynch, or seek out contact like an Adrian Peterson, but when he does get hit he can bounce off defenders, keep his balance and keep going.
Charles may actually be the perfect running back for today's NFL. Due to the wear and tear of the position, no back should be averaging 30 carries per game. Charles doesn't, but he still puts up the same amount of yards due to his astronomical yards per carry than a back who would. The Chiefs can then mix in power backs like Peyton Hillis or in the past, Thomas Jones to eat up time.
Charles is also a productive back in the pass game. He's piled up 131 receptions for 1164 yards in his career and he's an underrated pass blocker for his size. Pro Football Focus rated him the eighth best blocking running back in 2008 and the seventh best in 2010. He's currently ranked 21st in the league in 2012, but he still has a positive rating.
What may be most impressive is how quickly he's bounced back from ACL surgery. Charles has 103 carries for 551 yards so far with two touchdowns. And that's with a horrible game against Buffalo where he only carried the ball six times for three yards. He's still showing the same cutback ability and speed as he did prior to his injury. He may have benefited from getting injured so early last season, since he had a full year to recover and wasn't tempted to come back early.
With Matt Cassel's struggles, Charles has been one of the only productive parts of the Chiefs offense, and defensive lines are constantly stacking the line against him. Charles is also receiving an increased workload with Hillis out, but was still productive with 33 carries against New Orleans, piling up 233 yards.
Peterson, Arian Foster, Ray Rice and Lesean McCoy are typically the names mentioned when talking about best running back in the league, but what's more important than the amount of yards you can gain every time you touch the ball? Charles not only leads those four players in that category, but he leads, well, everyone.
If Charles can keep up this pace for the rest of his career, voters would be hard pressed not to put him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, though that's obviously getting ahead of ourselves. Right now, we can only marvel that we're watching the best running back in NFL history at production per touch.