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Could Day 2 Be Running Back Heavy? | NFL Draft Conversations Intensify

0409 RB Draft Article

JACKSONVILLE – There are good players available.

That's how analysts describe the running back class in the 2024 NFL Draft. They're also quick to say that doesn't mean running backs will be selected early.

This is a quality year at running back. It's just not a year for high demand.

"It's a solid class," Jaguars and NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks said.

Though no running backs are projected in Round 1 of this year's draft, this isn't unusual in this era. While two running backs – Bijan Robinson of Texas (Atlanta, No. 8 overall) and Jahmyr Gibbs of Alabama (Detroit, No. 12) – were selected early in Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft, no running back was selected in Round 1 in 2022 and no running back was selected in the Top 10 from 2019-2022.

Brooks rates Texas sophomore Jonathon Brooks as the '24 class's top running back with Florida State senior Trey Benson next. Brooks is widely projected as a second-round selection.

"It's absolutely a class where you can find role players and guys that can make it happen, but it lacks the full-time guy, the 1,600-yard rusher," Bucky Brooks said. "There are no marquee running backs or names in the first round. There are guys who can come in and play roles, not necessarily guys who can carry the load or be the old 'RB1.' "

ESPN NFL Draft analysts Matt Miller called this a deep running back class into the third or fourth round, with most backs in the class "scheme-specific."

Miller said he projects just one running back in Round 2 and none in Round 1.

"This is a great year to sort of pick your flavor," Miller said. "It's going to get talked about as a 'bad' running back class because there's not a first-round pick one year after we had two first-round running backs.

"I actually really think it's a really good running back class. It's just a lot of those players are going to be drafted [between Nos.] 75 to 250. There's such great value. There's not going to be any drafted early because they might lack speed or they might not be a perfect scheme fit for teams."

Florida State running back Trey Benson runs the 40-yard dash at the NFL football scouting combine, Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

NFL Network NFL Draft analysts Daniel Jeremiah said he expects running backs will begin to be selected in Rounds 2 or 3.

"I think Day 2 is going to be the running back day," he said. "I have about six-to-eight running backs that are very closely graded. I wonder if we're going to see a game of chicken in the second round where teams are saying, 'Well, we have the grade to take this guy here, but we don't want to be the first one in line. We just need to make sure we're not the last one in line.'

"Maybe we could get to the bottom of the second, maybe even the top of the third round, and then once the first one goes. I think you'll see all these guys come off the board."


Like quarterback, this could be a position of low interest for the Jaguars in this draft. They have invested heavily in the position in recent drafts, selecting running back Travis Etienne Jr. No. 25 overall in 2021 and selecting running back Tank Bigsby in the third round in 2023. Etienne has rushed for more than 1,000 yards each of the last two seasons and is one of the NFL's best big-play running backs. Bigsby rushed for just 132 yards and two touchdowns on 50 carries as a rookie, and Head Coach Doug Pederson spoke during the recent NFL Annual Meeting about the need to get Bigsby more involved in the offense in 2024 – in part, to ease Etienne's workload. The Jaguars also earlier this offseason re-signed sixth-year veteran running back D'Ernest Johnson, who rushed for 108 yards and no touchdowns on 41 carries in his first season with the Jaguars in 2023. With just three running backs on the roster, this could be a target for a late-round selection and almost certainly will be addressed in collegiate free agency following the draft.

--John Oehser




On the roster:

  • Travis Etienne Jr.
  • Tank Bigsby
  • D'Ernest Johnson


  1. Jonathon Brooks, sophomore, Texas
  2. Trey Benson, senior, Florida State
  3. Jaylen Wright, junior, Tennessee
  4. Blake Corum, senior, Michigan
  5. Will Shipley, junior, Clemson


None likely.

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