June 21, 2024

2024 NFL Draft: Top 10 Running Backs Part 1 (10-6)

7 min read

2024 RB Prospects Part 1

By: Cody Folden

 

 

The quarterback rankings are out (parts 1 & 2) and I have been hearing a lot of feedback on it and I love the interactions. Let’s do it again with running backs. Here are the first half of the top 10 running backs in the NFL Draft

I will be ranking the top 10 of each position. It is broken down from 10 to 1 and into two articles from 10 to 6, and 5 to 1. Film breakdowns and testing will factor in. But, as of this moment, this specific article is for BEFORE the scouting combine. New and updated articles will be released after the combine and after the NFL draft. These are the other two major events that will tell us a lot of information. Some will say this is a weak running back class. While I agree there are no top-tier guys for draft positions this year. I would expect these 10, maybe even 5 more, running backs to get drafted and they will play a role on the team that drafts them next year. There are a lot of complementary backs in this 2024 draft.

Player comparisons, draft projections, and measurables will all be taken into effect and added in once they are more available.

Let’s start this list off with a running back I really like which is:

 

#10 – Rasheen Ali (Marshall)

 

Rasheen Ali, a player for the Marshall Thundering Herd, had impressive stats in college. He ran for 2831 yards with an average of 5.5 yards per carry and scored 39 touchdowns. He also demonstrated his receiving abilities with 75 receptions for 557 yards and 3 touchdowns. Ali plays the running back position effectively, as shown by his 5.5-yard average per carry. He has strong legs and falls forward when tackled. Despite being 6 feet tall and weighing 200 pounds, which is a bit small, he needs to gain some weight to succeed as a professional. However, he is a tough runner and possesses enough agility to maneuver outside and find open space, where he excels.

He needs to learn to be patient behind the line of scrimmage and follow his blocking to run between the tackles. He has good balance and quick feet. When he is in open space, he can be deadly. That’s why they use him in the screen passing game too. While blocking is a problem for Ali, he at least uses his hands and arms. If he can improve his base, he can become something more than just a receiving back. Ali is going to the Shrine Bowl, where he should do well. I expect him to also get an invite to the scouting combine. There, he will showcase his skills and impress with his speed and quickness.

Next on the countdown is #9:

 

#9 – Will Shipley (Clemson)

 

Will Shipley has a similar build to Ali. He is 5 foot 11 and weighs 209 pounds. He is also a very similar player to Ali. On the football field, Shipley is a weapon in open space. He caught 85 passes for 602 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also ran for 2748 yards and 31 touchdowns, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. Shipley has great hands and receiving ability. Route running can improve but wasn’t expected to do so in college. What makes Shipley even better is his plant foot. He can make defenders miss with unexpected moves. Although he is fast at the beginning of a run, he doesn’t have the burst we would like to see from a complementary back.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U381xF9Cbw0 

Shipley doesn’t try to hide the fact that he is not a good blocker. He either doesn’t block at all or just uses his shoulder to push the defender. Sometimes, getting in the way is enough. But in the NFL, you need to do more than that to get on the field. Shipley declared for the NFL draft as a junior. He is still young and has the potential to become a good starting running back. Based on team needs, I expect him to be picked in the late second or third day of the draft. Shipley had an injury in Clemson’s Bowl game but doesn’t need surgery. Yet, this isn’t the first time he has been injured. Like others on this list, he needs to gain muscle to survive a full NFL season.

Coming in at 8: 

 

#8 – Audric Estime (Notre Dame)

 

Audric Estime is a big running back at 5 foot 11 and 227 pounds. He is one of the top prospects this year. With his strength, he easily breaks arm tackles. He had a great season with 1981 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also caught 26 passes for 271 yards and 1 touchdown. Unlike other running backs, Estime could improve in the passing game. We will see his skills at the combine since he didn’t get many opportunities at Notre Dame. One thing he does well is being patient at the line of scrimmage. He waits for blocks to develop and creates big holes. Estime may not be the fastest, but he is efficient in the run game. He gains a lot of yardage without wasting energy. However, he needs to work on holding onto the ball. Fumbling has been an issue, especially when he fights for extra yardage. He puts in maximum effort but also needs to learn to secure the ball.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYeySZ1AX4E 

 

Estime, like the others, needs to learn how to block in pass protection. He can do it, but he doesn’t set his feet well. This could cause problems for the quarterback if he gets blown over. It’s hard to predict where Estime will go in the NFL draft. Teams could pick him in the second round or the seventh round. Currently, I rank him as the RB8. I expect him to move up based on his measurables. I’ll have to wait and see where he gets drafted before deciding where to properly rank him.

Coming in at 7 is a guy we cannot count out: 

 

#7 – Jase McClellan (Alabama)

 

 

Jase McClellan is 5 foot 11 and weighs 212 pounds, which is the right height for a running back in this class. Throughout his career, he rushed for 1981 yards. He averaged 5.6 yards per carry and scored 18 touchdowns. He also caught 40 passes for 409 yards and 6 touchdowns. 

I have high praise for McClellan. Unlike previous running backs, who were only good at one thing, McClellan is a true complement. He excels at running between the tackles with his tough style and strong leg drive. He may not be the slipperiest runner and prefers a one-cut style. But, his quick first step can catch defenders off guard. He gains yards in a traditional way, but he can also catch the ball. 

However, like all running backs, he still needs to improve in pass protection. That being said, he has skillfully shown his ability in the RPO. He does this by providing effective fakes and running fast. While he may not have breakaway speed, he always keeps the drive alive. Durability could be a problem when dealing with a foot injury for a whole year. 

In the past, we have seen that the Alabama backs are always prepared to play at a higher level. Alabama has produced great players like Derrick Henry and Mark Ingram. However, they have also had some disappointments like Trent Richardson. I think Jase will be in the middle. He’ll be with Najee Harris, Damien Harris, and Brian Robinson. These are all good choices that football teams like to have on their team.

 

The Final Ranking….for this article. Coming in at 6: 

 

#6 – Blake Corum (Michigan)

 

 

Blake Corum is 5 foot 8 and weighs 219 pounds. I rank him as the 6th best running back in this class. He had a college career with 3737 yards and an average of 5.5 yards per carry. Corum also scored 58 rushing touchdowns. He caught 56 passes for 411 yards and 3 touchdowns. However, he needs to improve his passing skills to succeed in the NFL. He needs to work on his route running. At the Senior Bowl and Combine, he can prove me wrong and show better skills.

We need to consider running backs differently when building a dynasty team. We look for quarterbacks or wide receivers who can perform well for 7-10 years. We should focus on running backs who can excel in a four-year timeframe. Usually, 1 to 3 running backs are picked in the first round of the NFL draft every year. But, this year there will be none. In fantasy football, running backs are not as valuable. So, it’s important to find which will be part of a rotation. Corum has already endured a lot of physical strain by playing for his college team throughout his college career. He has also had some minor injuries. He got them while sharing playing time with Donovan Edwards. Is he starting to decline?

Corum is likely the best power back in the draft, so he will probably be chosen on day 2. He has excellent control of his feet and balance, which allows him to run through weak tacklers and easily break arm tackles. Although he has good balance and power, he seemed to struggle with goal-line carries when there was no clear running lane. Corum’s 40 time will surprise us because even though Michigan’s offense was slow and methodical, Corum has the ability to make a 65-yard run at any moment.

With that, there are the running backs 10 thru 6. Like I said at the top, this list is ever-changing. Nothing in football is set in stone until after the NFL draft, so enjoy the read and if you disagree, I am more than happy to have a discussion with you. Come back later, for the top 5 ranked running backs of the 2024 draft class.