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2024 NFL Draft Prospects: Jaylen Wright, Dillon Johnson, Ray Davis

2024 NFL Draft Prospects: Jaylen Wright, Dillon Johnson, Ray Davis

Could we see a running back selected in the top 50 of the 2024 NFL Draft? Certainly, we could. Right now, though, it doesn’t seem likely. Currently, it feels like we’ll see a mid-to-late second day run on halfbacks that will carry over into the beginning of Day Three. Many people already know plenty about Jonathon Brooks, Blake Corum and Bucky Irving. But what about the underrated/lesser-known backs? Below you will find six such running backs that are currently flying under the radar.

2024 NFL Draft Guide

Under-the-Radar RB Targets

Ray Davis (RB – Kentucky)

It wouldn’t be surprising if Ray Davis ended up closer to being a top running back on draft boards than in the middle of the pack. For now, that’s right where he is on my draft board as my sixth-ranked running back. Much of that is due to Davis not having great burst in space and tight areas of the field. It felt like there were too many times where he’d have an opening and he’d not hit it or he wouldn’t see it.

However, Davis still checks a lot of boxes. He’s been consistent as a pass-catcher in his career with 86 receptions over the last five seasons. In addition to that, his efficiency as a runner is a joy to watch. He makes fluid jump cuts to force defenders to miss. His patience as a runner is a huge asset that allows blocks to develop and contributed to him averaging almost five yards per carry (4.9) in his career.

Testing will be huge for a lot of players. Specifically for Davis, he can show why he was a multi-sport athlete (baseball, track and field, basketball and football) in high school. Teams will value that he doesn’t get too cute as a runner and takes what’s in front of him. Projecting as a rotational back for a team, it wouldn’t be surprising if Davis outplays that projection by becoming a three-down back for an NFL team.

Dillon Johnson (RB – Washington)

If it weren’t for injuries in the final month of the season, it feels like we would be talking more about Dillon Johnson. That being said, teams will value his toughness. Seeing him play through injury will certainly win over a few teams during the draft process.

When watching the tape of Johnson, you’ll see he plays best when running between the tackles. He’s able to run through contact or make one cut and get to the next level. Even though he isn’t very elusive in space, his ability as a pass-catcher will be a huge asset to his game at the next level. Between his time at Mississippi State and Washington, he had 173 receptions in his career.

As a runner, he’ll need to improve on his pad level as he runs too high. But he does run through contact well and is strong enough to gain additional yardage. Medical testing will be important for Johnson but seeing him run at the NFL Combine will be just as important. Being over a month removed from the National Championship, teams will want to see how he moves around and tests. It’ll be interesting to see where Johnson lands in the 2024 NFL Draft. He could go as early on Day Two of the draft and earn a role early in his career as a pass-catcher for an NFL team.

Jaylen Wright (RB – Tennessee)

There might not be a running back I’m more excited to talk about during the draft process than Jaylen Wright. He’s an explosive playmaker who has the speed needed to take it the distance in the NFL. In high school, he was a former track and field star that had a 55-meter dash time of 6.29 seconds in 2019. That time was the best in the country. In addition to that, his personal record for the 100-meter dash was 10.85 seconds and 21.98 seconds in the 200-meter dash.

Being able to outrun defenders will be expected of him at the next level. However, he will need to get stronger. He doesn’t always gain yards after contact despite being a physical runner. He’s a patient runner that allows blocks to develop but he doesn’t always see the openings in front of him, forcing him to run with some hesitation.

At the combine, it’s expected Wright will be one of the top performers in just about every category. That could boost his stock for teams looking to add a spark-plug that can create plays on offense. Wright may not be expected to be an every-down back but he’s got experience as a pass-catcher and is willing to pick up blitzes and line stunts. Flying somewhat under the radar, I could see a scenario where Wright ends up going somewhere on the later part of Day Two and ends up earning 10-to-12 touches per game for a team.

2024 NFL Mock Drafts

Here are a few early predictions for the 2024 NFL Draft. We’ll continue to add our 2024 NFL Mock Drafts leading up to the start of Round 1.

2024 NFL Draft Coverage

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