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ATL Mailbag: Is Arian Foster an elite running back?

It's Cinco De Mayo. If you can't celebrate with some cerveza and guacamole, why not take in the latest ATL Mailbag?

Thanks to all of those who submitted questions. If you want to be part of the next mailbag, tweet us at @NFLATL or email us at

Let's get on with it ...

It comes down to one man. If Ryan Tannehillcan make the leap from, "Hey, this guy could be pretty good" to "Whoa, this guy is really good," the Dolphins have a legitimate chance to win double-digit games and -- hypothetically, at least -- push the New England Patriots for AFC East supremacy.

Then again, here are the Patriots' regular-season win totals over the past 10 seasons: 12, 13, 14, 10, 11, 16, 12, 10, 14, 14. My point? The Patriots have been too good for too long in the Belichick/Brady era to discount just because the Dolphins spent some money this winter. Tannehill can lead this team to the playoffs, but not past the Patriots. At least not yet.

Foster wasn't quite as explosive last season, but it's hard to deny his body of work since 2010.

The running back conversation begins with Adrian Peterson. Filling out the rest of the top five is more difficult. My list would go Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles and Arian Foster. Opinions surely vary in this department.

So yes, I think he's elite, though this position is volatile year to year. Remember Maurice Jones-Drew?

Let's pump the brakes here. Rodgers wasn't even drafted, so expecting an undrafted free agent to a) make the Jacksonville Jaguars' roster and b) start, is getting ahead of ourselves ... even when Blaine Gabbert is prominently involved.

One thing we do know: Aaron Rodgers certainly seemed to find motivation in his drop from the draft board in 2005. Jordan has a chip on his shoulder as well.

While we're here, a list of my favorite underappreciated brothers:

There has been a real ugliness to the Geno Smith reports over the past week. Smith suddenly is being painted as the next Ryan Leaf. Where was this before he fell in the draft and went to the New York Jets? It makes you wonder how much of the criticism is fueled by the idea that any Jets personnel decision should be treated as a disaster of biblical proportions.

As for the business of actual football, Smith should be in good position to win this job out of camp. The Jets have had their fill of Mark Sanchez, and the back-to-back AFC title game appearances no longer give him the benefit of the doubt.

Smith's fall to the second round means he'll be playing under a team-friendly contract. The Jets won't feel financial pressure to start Smith, which works in Sanchez's favor.

Our prediction? Sanchez wins the job out of camp. Smith replaces him before Halloween.

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.

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