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Early Look at Rookie RB Class - 2024 NFL Draft

Braelon Allen - Fantasy Football Rankings, College FB, RB, NFL Draft Sleepers

Ah, the 2024 NFL Draft's running back class -- a group that's been flying under the radar faster than a stealth jet during a new moon. But here's the thing: while they might not have the marquee buzz of past classes, there's a goldmine of talent ready to explode onto the NFL scene. Take Trey Benson, for example -- this guy has more moves than a chess grandmaster and an engine that just won't quit. Then there's Jonathon Brooks, who’s been slicing through defenses like a hot knife through butter. Finally, Blake Corum, a battering ram who runs so low to the ground you can hardly see him.

But wait, there’s more to this sleeper hit of a class. Braelon Allen just turned 20 years old and is built like a monster truck in a demolition derby. And let's not sleep on Jaylen Wright, who’s got the kind of speed that could give a cheetah a run for its money. These guys are not just your run-of-the-mill backs; they've got the grit, talent, and game-changing abilities that could very well turn them into bona fide NFL starters.

So, why the lukewarm hype? Maybe it’s because they’ve been outshined by the luminaries of other positions. Are there too many out there comparing them to Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs from last year? Whatever the reason, the 2024 NFL Draft is now less than two weeks away. Many of these backs could become fantasy values with how much the other positions seem to have the gaze of the fantasy community. With the way the NFL is evolving -- valuing versatility, durability, and game intelligence -- these backs will be looking to make the most of whatever opportunities they get.

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Trey Benson - Florida State, Junior

  • Height: 6-foot-0
  • Weight: 216 pounds
  • Age: 21.7
  • RAS Score: 9.77
  • 2023 Stats: 156 carries for 905 yards (5.8 YPC) with 14 TDs and 20 receptions for 227 yards and one TD
  • 2024 Draft Positional Rank: RB1

Benson set the single-season record for forced missed tackle rate in 2022, per PFF. He forced 79 missed tackles on just 154 rush attempts, which is very impressive. Injuries took Benson's first two seasons at Oregon, but after transferring to Florida State in 2022, he began to shine as a running back.

He isn't overly big, but at 216 pounds, he alleviates any potential size/durability concerns at the next level. Benson is a powerful runner at the point of attack and if a defender's pads are even with him upon contact, they're probably getting run over. He doesn't have a lot of wear and tear on him, either, with just 348 total touches in his college career.

Benson shined at the NFL Combine, clocking a 4.39 40-yard dash to go along with a 10-foot-2-inch broad jump. Put on the tape and you will be wowed. It will come as a surprise if we see any running backs taken within the first 40 picks or so, but after that is when we should start seeing them come off the board. Benson is my RB1 for 2024.


Jonathon Brooks - Texas, Sophomore (RS)

  • Height: 6-foot-0
  • Weight: 216 pounds
  • Age: 20.7
  • RAS Score: N/A (due to injury)
  • 2022 Stats: 187 carries for 1,135 yards (6.1 YPC) with 10 TDs and 25 receptions for 286 yards and 1 TD
  • 2023 Draft Positional Rank: RB2

Brooks would've likely been the RB1 on most boards had he not suffered a torn ACL in the Big 12 Conference Championship. There have been some questions about his official readiness for Week 1 of the season, but it's hard not to like Brooks' skill set given his full body of work. He's the most versatile back in this class and likely the best for fantasy given his receiving prowess. With that said, the injury is definitely something that must be factored into his evaluation.

Brooks is a sudden runner with light feet who can start/stop on a dime while showing impressive contact balance. He has good vision and has demonstrated a solid football IQ. As mentioned earlier, Brooks' versatility gives him the ability to succeed in a variety of offensive schemes.

The Longhorns offense was practically unstoppable last fall, and Brooks was a large part of it. It wouldn't be fair to compare him to his former teammate, Bijan Robinson, but there's no denying Brooks' talents at full strength. There's been a lot of buzz about the Dallas Cowboys selecting him at the end of Round 2.

MarShawn Lloyd - USC, Junior

  • Height: 5-foot-9
  • Weight: 220 pounds
  • Age: 23.2
  • RAS Score: 8.57
  • 2023 Stats: 115 carries for 816 yards (7.1 YPC) with nine TDs and 13 receptions for 232 yards
  • 2024 Draft Positional Rank: RB3

Much like Benson, Lloyd needed a change of scenery to unlock his potential. He was the best player around QB Caleb Williams this past year. However, due to the porous defense and playing from behind a lot, Lloyd only ended up with 115 rush attempts for the season. He excels as a one-cut type of back who moves well at 220 pounds.

He's got solid acceleration and an impressive ability to start and stop depending on how the play is developing. Lloyd's had his share of fumbles, with eight on a total of 289 career carries, something that could be an issue for some NFL teams. Scouts have said he tends to carry the ball too loosely at times, but it's hard not to like the upside given his impressive athletic profile. The hope is that solid coaching at the next level can help unlock Lloyd's potential.


Jaylen Wright - Tennessee, Junior

  • Height: 5-foot-10
  • Weight: 210 pounds
  • Age: 21.0
  • RAS Score: 9.82
  • 2023 Stats: 136 carries for 1,010 yards (7.4 YPC) with four TDs and 22 receptions for 141 yards
  • 2024 Draft Positional Rank: RB4

Wright can fly! He's a better runner through contact than his frame might suggest, and being over the 200-pound threshold tends to make life easier for backs once they get to the NFL. Last fall, Wright made Bruce Feldman's Freaks List, a testament to his athleticism. The biggest knock on his game from scouts is that Tennessee's offense faced a high amount of empty boxes, which allowed Wright to often get to the second level with ease.

Nonetheless, Wright displays impressive acceleration and top-end speed, which could serve him well at the next level. He's best suited for a zone-type running scheme where he can use his elusiveness and cutback ability to find and get through the holes. When a player of Wright's caliber gets into the open field, he's gone.


Blake Corum - Michigan, Senior

  • Height: 5-foot-8
  • Weight: 205 pounds
  • Age: 23.3
  • RAS Score: 8.48
  • 2023 Stats: 258 carries for 1,245 yards (4.8 YPC) with 27 TDs and 16 receptions for 117 yards and one TD
  • 2023 Draft Positional Rank: RB5

Corum's metrics aren't bad by any means, but he's not a true burner like the other backs in this class. It's important to use a blend of film and data when it comes to player evaluation, and Corum is one guy that you just have to trust with your eyes. He might not be big or overly fast, and there are questions about his receiving upside. However, Corum is a tough inside runner who is so low to the ground that he's hard to find and is great at picking up the tough yards.

Corum will turn 24 this fall, so he is a slightly older running back. He was a vital cog in Michigan's offense last fall, culminating with a 15-0 finish en route to winning a national championship. If there's a player who has that dawg in him, it's Corum. He does all of the dirty work so well that it's hard not to get excited about him being  in the red zone and consistently getting the ball over the goal line.


Other Players to Watch

Braelon Allen from Wisconsin is the true wild card of this year's class. A massive running back at 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds, Allen is a converted linebacker who is still just 20 years old. He opted out of the 40-yard dash, short shuttle, and 3-cone drills at the NFL Combine, leaving a lot of mixed reviews about him. Allen had 26 reps on the bench press, the second most amongst running backs.

Allen rushed 595 times for 3,482 yards (5.8 YPC) with 35 TDs in his college career, but his nine career fumbles are a cause for concern. Given how much smaller NFL defenses have become, especially with most teams having at least five defensive backs on the field at all times, one can't help but wonder if a player like Allen could become a force as a downhill runner in the right offense.

Honorable Mention: RB Bucky Irving - Oregon, RB Will Shipley - Clemson, RB Audric Estime - Notre Dame

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