NFL Draft News & Analysis

2024 NFL Draft: Strengths, weaknesses for the top running back prospects

2T81WWM FORT WORTH, TX - NOVEMBER 11: Texas Longhorns running back Jonathon Brooks (#24) runs up field during the college football game between the Texas Longhorns and TCU Horned Frogs on November 11, 2023 at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, TX. (Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

• Texas' Jonathon Brooks is the top back: Brooks boasts impressive traits for his size and can hold his own in pass blocking.

• Keep an eye on a late-blooming SEC running back: Tennessee's Jaylen Wright has an explosive first step and shows a decent amount of patience to set up blocks and stay between the tackles.

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Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes


Running backs may no longer be prioritized in the NFL draft, but teams still need effective run games. With that comes the opportunity to find those players a bit later.

Here, we highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the top 10 running backs, per the PFF big board, in the 2024 NFL Draft.

JONATHON BROOKS, TEXAS

Strengths

Brooks has impressive wiggle for his size, pairing that with nice footwork and change-of-direction ability at 200-plus pounds. He displays good vision and feel for zone-blocking schemes with solid contact balance. His long speed isn't elite, but his burst makes up for it. In the passing game, he has natural hands and the requisite footwork and strength/balance to be a reliable pass blocker.

Weaknesses

Brooks' north-to-south tendency is good, but that gives him tunnel vision, at times, to not see the best rushing lanes. His hands are good in the passing game, but he doesn't have much nuance in his routes.


JAYLEN WRIGHT, TENNESSEE

Strengths

Wright brings top-tier athleticism to the running back position. His explosive first step is very impressive, making his cuts devastating, and he can turn speed into power for taking on contact. His vision is also improving, as he does show a decent amount of patience to set up blocks and stay between the tackles or within the blocking scheme. In the passing game, his strength makes him a reliable pass protector.

Weaknesses

Though Wright possesses decent patience, he doesn't always see open rush lanes when they aren't the primary hole. His pass-catching ability is there, but it's not as natural as it is for others.

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BLAKE CORUM, MICHIGAN

Strengths

Corum has a great center of gravity for taking on contact. His shorter frame allows him to be precise and explosive when putting his foot in the ground to burst or change direction. He can “get skinny” between the tackles on gap-blocking plays. He has controlled, precise footwork behind the line of scrimmage and in space, and his patience is a huge plus of his game. On third downs, he is a natural receiver and a willing pass blocker.

Weaknesses

Corum's shorter leg stride length affects his overall long speed; he lacks that get-away level of top speed. Though he is a very willing pass protector, his size can cause him to be overwhelmed when taking on pass rushers.


BUCKY IRVING, OREGON

Strengths

Irving doesn't have the best long speed, but he boasts great burst in his first few steps to hit holes quickly. He has fast, controlled and balanced footwork to make guys miss in a phone booth. His center of gravity lets him bounce off tackles and always fall forward, and despite his size, he is naturally looking for yards between the tackles. As a receiver, he is a natural, reliable hands catcher who has plenty of potential as a receiver.

Weaknesses

Irving is a very north-to-south runner, which can be good, but there are times when the sideline is open and he doesn't take it. His size limits both his pass-blocking efficacy and top speed.


RAY DAVIS, KENTUCKY

Strengths

Davis flashes fast footwork and good one-cut ability. His impressive lateral quickness extends into routes out of the backfield, as well. When he gets the ball, he has a playmaker’s mentality in space, wanting to make guys miss. He showcases really nice vision for both gap and zone schemes but is most productive in zone. On third downs, he is a good hands catcher and has a feel for space, blocking and where his help is.

Weaknesses

Davis’ long speed will be average at best — and likely below average in the NFL. Though willing, he can get overwhelmed in pass protection.


MARSHAWN LLOYD, USC

Strengths

Lloyd has NFL-caliber long speed and acceleration. His all-around athleticism in explosiveness and elusiveness is impressive. He maintains the ability to make players miss in space after the catch, as well. As for his build, he has adequate size and strength for pass protection, showing off a good pass-protecting baseline in his fundamentals.

Weaknesses

Because of his speed, Lloyd too often wants to bounce runs to the sideline. His recent tape shows he does not see cutback lanes as quickly as he needs to for consistent success in zone-blocking schemes, where his skill set may fit best.

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WILL SHIPLEY, CLEMSON

Strengths

Shipley’s 40 targets in each of the past two seasons speaks to his natural receiving ability. His footwork is quick and precise, making for smooth yet explosive cuts. He has nice balance for staying on his feet through contact. His long speed is adequate, but his short burst is even better.

Weaknesses

Shipley is a willing pass blocker but doesn't have the necessary weight to be reliable. He has good balance and body control yet lacks the strength to really break tackles.


TREY BENSON, FLORIDA STATE

Strengths

Benson has a powerful build, with good size and strength in his legs. He is an explosive athlete with difference-making burst and top speed. He can convert speed-to-power quickly for yards after contact and broken tackles. He is a fundamentally sound pass blocker with a good base and the necessary strength to hold up.

Weaknesses

Benson is a little stiff in his lateral movements, lacking some of the wiggle of the other top backs in this class. When carrying the ball, the base of his footwork is narrow, which makes it easier for him to get tripped up. His high missed tackles figures are more about speed-to-power and erasing pursuit angles than one-cut elusiveness. He is an athlete first, so tends to miss open cutback lanes in favor of getting to the sideline as soon as possible. As a receiver, he lets passes come into the body rather than extending his hands.

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