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2024 NFL Draft: 12 Running Back Prospects to Watch

2024 NFL Draft: 12 Running Back Prospects to Watch

With the college football season approaching, it’s time to take a deeper look at some of the top NFL Draft-eligible players at each position. This will help us assemble an early list of prospects to watch this fall.

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2024 NFL Draft: Running Back Prospects to Watch

Below are 12 Draft-eligible running backs who I’ll be keeping an eye on this coming season.

Braelon Allen (Wisconsin)

The 6’2″, 235-pound Braelon Allen is one of the biggest running-back prospects in this year’s class and has also been one of the most productive, averaging 1,250 yards and 11.5 touchdowns over the past two seasons. He’s not much of a receiver and may not have the best burst in the class, but he runs with decisiveness and shows enough foot quickness and vision to shuffle into lanes when dealing with congestion. He should primarily interest teams looking for a rotational power back with a no-nonsense approach and consistent finishing.

Trey Benson (Florida State)

After playing sparingly at Oregon in 2021, Trey Benson transferred to the Seminoles last year and took over the starting role in Week 9, finishing with 154-994-9. A well-built runner at 6’1″, 215 pounds, he has impressive speed and quickness for his size, with the ability to beat defenders to the edge and weave through traffic once he finds a lane. Between the tackles, he runs with good burst to rip off chunks when the blocking is there but can navigate through congestion with solid knee-bend, finishing with pop.

Blake Corum (Michigan)

Taking over as the team’s workhorse after Hassan Haskins‘ departure, Blake Corum was a legitimate Heisman candidate last year but sustained a knee injury and missed the rest of the season. His combination of patience, vision, decisiveness and lower-body strength is impressive, and he finishes runs by consistently falling forward. Donovan Edwards will probably have a bigger role this season, but if Corum stays healthy, he could be looking at a second-day selection in 2024.

Donovan Edwards (Michigan)

Edwards played relatively sparingly to start the 2023 season but went over 100 yards in each game in which he carried the ball 15 or more times, finishing the year with 70 carries for 520 yards and three touchdowns over the Wolverines’ final three games. At 6’1″, 204 pounds, he has a bigger body than Corum and can run a little bit high and narrow at times. Yet, he punishes defenders when he gets a head of steam, has some elusiveness once he gets out into the open and finishes runs with physicality.

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Frank Gore Jr. (Southern Mississippi)

I was surprised to see Frank Gore Jr. return to school, as he has been productive for each of the past three seasons and finished last year with a 329-yard bowl game performance after a 199-yard season finale. He’s one of the smaller backs in the class at 5’8″, 195 pounds, but he gained nearly 1,000 yards after contact last year. A smooth accelerator who gets behind his pads and falls forward consistently, teams will appreciate his straightforward approach and impressive leg drive. He’s also never dropped a pass, with 48 career catches.

TreVeyon Henderson (Ohio State)

After a monster 2021 season (183-1,248-15), TreVeyon Henderson dealt with injuries last season and saw his output fall dramatically. He’ll share snaps with Miyan Williams, but look for Henderson to get the lion’s share of touches. He’s not the most powerful back in the class but shows impressive burst and long speed in Ryan Day’s zone-heavy, shotgun-based offense. He is also a capable receiver. It’ll be interesting to see whether Henderson can stay healthy and recover his 2021 form, despite losing a considerable amount of high-end talent on the Buckeyes’ offense.

Bucky Irving (Oregon)

After rushing for 699 yards in Minnesota’s three-back rotation in 2021, Bucky Irving transferred to Oregon and put together a 157-1,064-5 line, splitting carries with Noah Whittington. Bucky Irving’s on the smaller side at 5’10”, 194 pounds, so a rotational role looks likely at the next level. However, his impressive cutting ability and flexible build make him an elusive back in space. He was also an important part of the Ducks’ passing attack, although he dropped four passes. I’d like to see him execute inside runs as called more consistently rather than bouncing runs outside and increasing the risk of negative-yardage snaps.

Montrell Johnson (Florida)

Montrell Johnson transferred from Louisiana-Lafayette last season and has exactly 841 yards in each of his first two years in school. He’s been mostly running zone concepts with a patient style and clean footwork. He follows blockers well and can navigate through congestion with good knee-bend, but he doesn’t have the most powerful running style and isn’t a high-volume or particularly sure-handed receiver. Johnson had some big games last year but got bottled up too often, so showing week-to-week consistency will be important.

Jase McClellan (Alabama)

Jase McClellan is entering his fourth year of college and should finally have his chance to function as a lead back. Last year, he ran for 111-651-7 but should increase his output now that Jahmyr Gibbs is in Detroit. He has a strong build at 5’11”, 215 pounds, and has more experience as a blocker than usual due to Alabama’s frequent use of two-back formations. As a runner, he is decisive with smooth acceleration, minimizing negative-yardage plays. So far, he profiles as more of a rotational back at the next level.

Raheim Sanders (Arkansas)

The big-bodied Raheim Sanders (6’2″, 221) was productive in a complementary role in 2021 before taking over the lead-back role last year. He finished with 224-1,466-10 and 27 catches in a Razorbacks offense that features a lot of RPOs and zone concepts. Despite his size, Sanders manages to run with a relatively low pad level due to his knee bend and impressive flexibility. He has a patient running style and solid leg drive after contact, although he isn’t quite the punisher or pile-mover his size would suggest.

Will Shipley (Clemson)

Will Shipley’s been the lead back at Clemson for the past two years, with escalating production; last season’s 211-1,171-15 line (with 37 receptions) is one of the best among top prospects. His size is relatively average, but he runs with impressive burst, quick feet, a violent style and a sense of urgency that should endear him to pro teams. Blocking can be an issue, both in terms of technique and anchor strength, but his versatility as a runner, receiver and even kick returner should allow him to carve out a niche at the next level.

Miyan Williams (Ohio State)

A short, compact runner at 5’9′, 225 pounds, Williams got more chances to impress last season due to Henderson’s injuries. He totaled over 100 yards in five of six games with over 10 carries, finishing with 128-825-14. He’s the type of player his frame would suggest, with solid knee bend, a low center of gravity, a physical approach and very impressive contact balance to break tackles. He hasn’t been much of a factor as a receiver, but his pro-ready style and excellent ball security (no career fumbles) should allow him to serve as the power back in a pro team’s rotation.

Notice any prospects I missed? Feel free to let me know on Twitter @draftexaminer!

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