10 College Running Backs to Keep an Eye on in the 2024 NFL Draft

Running backs are the heart of the ground game in the NFL. The draft is the time for teams to compensate in areas they may lack in and bring in fresh talent. Without a ground game, teams are relying on their quarterback alone to create offense. Coming out of college, lots of fresh faces will be looking to make an impact and make a name for themselves in the league. With that, these are 10 college running backs to keep an eye on in the 2024 NFL draft.

10. Ray Davis – University of Kentucky

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY – NOVEMBER 25: Ray Davis #1 of the Kentucky Wildcats celebrates after running for a touchdown against the Louisville Cardinals in the second half at L&N Stadium on November 25, 2023 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Davis, a fifth-year senior for the Kentucky Wildcats, put up his second 1,000-yard rushing season in 2023. Averaging 5.7 yards per carry, Davis took the ball on 14 trips to the end zone last year while helping lead his team to a close Gator Bowl loss against the University of Clemson. With many teams looking to fill holes in the running back room, Davis could find a home at the next level on a hustle-needy team.

9. Will Shipley – University of Clemson

CLEMSON, SOUTH CAROLINA – NOVEMBER 18: Will Shipley #1 of the Clemson Tigers runs the ball against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the third quarter at Memorial Stadium on November 18, 2023 in Clemson, South Carolina. (Photo by Isaiah Vazquez/Getty Images)
On the other side of the Gator Bowl, certified white boy Will Shipley averaged an exact five yards per carry in 2023 with 827 yards on 167 carries. Shipley had a down year from his 1,000-yard season in 2022, which is largely what brought his hype even higher.

8. MarShawn Lloyd – University of Southern California

SOUTH BEND, INDIANA – OCTOBER 14: MarShawn Lloyd #0 of the USC Trojans looks on against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the first half at Notre Dame Stadium on October 14, 2023 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Quarterback Caleb Williams’ steed on the ground was exactly who the team needed him to be as a USC Trojan. Lloyd put up 820 yards and nine touchdowns on 116 carries for an average of 7.1 yards per carry. A reliable back, both as a backup and the starter for head coach Lincoln Riley, Lloyd is a back that will be a trooper for any franchise that takes him.

7. Bucky Irving – University of Oregon

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – JANUARY 01: Running back Bucky Irving #0 of the Oregon Ducks rushes the football during the second half of the Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium on January 01, 2024 in Glendale, Arizona. The Ducks defeated the Flames 45-6. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Irving is the product of a high-octane offense. Averaging 6.3 yards per carry, Irving put up 11 touchdowns and 1,180 yards in an Oregon offense that put up numbers against everyone. The 5’10 running back could be a difference-maker for anyone in the league looking to push the needle. As a player, he reminds me of former Tulane product and Tennessee Titan Tyjae Spears.

6. Audric Estime – University of Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND, INDIANA – NOVEMBER 18: Audric Estime #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is tackled by Malik Mustapha #3 of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in the first half at Notre Dame Stadium on November 18, 2023 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

Estime had a mind-boggling 210 carries in 2023 with 1,341 yards and 18 touchdowns to pair. While he was the team’s workhorse in the ground game, Estime exploded onto the scene for the best single season of his career. Prior to 2023, the Fighting Irishman only put up a combined 980 yards in his career. In the right system, Estime can be a great running back in the NFL.

5. Braelon Allen – University of Wisconsin

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – NOVEMBER 25: Braelon Allen #0 of the Wisconsin Badgers runs with the ball against the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the first half at Huntington Bank Stadium on November 25, 2023 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
Allen is the Badgers’ shield. When you need four yards, you give the ball to Allen. In 2023, Allen produced 984 yards and 12 touchdowns on 181 carries. The 6’2, 245-pound running back is sturdy on his legs and shows flashes of Wisconsin’s last great running back — Jonathan Taylor.

4. Jaylen Wright – University of Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE – OCTOBER 14: Jaylen Wright #0 of the Tennessee Volunteers runs the ball against the Texas A&M Aggies in the fourth quarter at Neyland Stadium on October 14, 2023 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)
Wright is another player who bumped up his skillset year by year throughout his collegiate career. The Tennessee Volunteer has all the skills on the ground that translate to the next level effectively. He may not pop off for long gains, but Wright is a nose-down runner who gains every yard he can.

3. Trey Bensen – Florida State University

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – DECEMBER 2: Trey Benson #3 of the Florida State Seminoles runs the ball against the Louisville Cardinals during the ACC Championship at Bank of America Stadium on December 2, 2023 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Isaiah Vazquez/Getty Images)
Benson was a large part of the Seminoles’ undefeated season run in 2023. Bensen rushed for 905 yards and 14 touchdowns on 156 carries. Averaging 5.8 yards per carry, Bensen is a secure runner with an eye for the endzone. Whether or not FSU should’ve been in the college football playoffs is one discussion, but to be robbed of more Trey Bensen is a whole other discussion.

2. Blake Corum – University of Michigan

HOUSTON, TEXAS – JANUARY 08: Blake Corum #2 of the Michigan Wolverines reacts as he walks off the field after defeating the Washington Huskies during the 2024 CFP National Championship game at NRG Stadium on January 08, 2024 in Houston, Texas. Michigan defeated Washington 34-13. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Michigan does not win a national championship without Blake Corum. The Big Blue back rushed a jaw-dropping 258 times in 2023, totaling 1,245 yards and 27 touchdowns. Corum’s a two-time 1,200+ yard receiver whose best days are ahead of him in the NFL. Whichever team lands Corum is sure to have a winner on their hands.

1. Jonathan Brooks – University of Texas

AUSTIN, TX – OCTOBER 28: A Texas Longhorns RB Jonathan Brooks (24) runs for yardage during the game featuring the Brigham Young Cougars and The Texas Longhorns on October 28, 2023, at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, TX. (Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Brooks proved himself to be the best, most reliable running back in 2023. Playing behind Atlanta Falcons and UT alum running back Bijan Robinson could either help or hurt a player, and Brooks rose to the occasion. Brooks took 187 carries for 1,139 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2023. He’s in line as the next great UT running back in the NFL.

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