April 13, 2024

Rookie Spotlight 2024: Jaylen Wright

4 min read

In 2023, we saw how speedy, shifty weapons like Jahmyr Gibbs, Keaton Mitchell, and De’Von Achane impacted offenses. Jaylen Wright seems to be poised to be the guy in this class who may be able to do the same. 

While at the University of Tennessee, Jaylen Wright was heavily involved in a rotation. During his freshman season, Wright was primarily the 3rd running back in the rotation that included Jabari Small and Tiyon Evans.  In his sophomore season, Wright led the team in rushing, serving as the co-starter with Small. In 2023, Wright cracked the 1,000-yard mark as he again shared carries with Small and Dylan Sampson.

 

Rookie Spotlight: Jaylen Wright

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  • Junior
  • Running Back
  • Tennessee Volunteers
  • 5ft 11in 210 lbs
  • 2023 All-SEC 2nd Team

STRENGTHS

Jaylen Wright is possibly the fastest running back in the 2024 NFL Draft class. A track star in high school, Wright ran a verified 10.85 in the 100-meter dash and a hand-timed 4.28 40-yard dash. I would not expect him to run a sub-4.3 at the combine, but a mid-4.3 is not out of the question. In 2023, he had a 26% explosive rush rate, which was the best of any running back in the 2024 NFL Draft class.

Wright is not just fast, but he is also strong in between the tackles.  He boasted a 31% missed tackle rate, which ranked 5th among 2024 running back draft prospects.  His 4.4 yards per carry after contact is the best in this class.

 

 

WEAKNESSES

Jaylen Wright struggled a bit in pass protection and blitz pickup during his career.  That concern wasn’t specific to Jaylen Wright though, as all of Tennessee’s running backs struggled in pass pro. He plays with good physicality, however, he will need to get stronger to be able to handle NFL competition.

He tends to play with a lot of patience to follow blocks and he sometimes misses obvious holes.  He has plenty of speed to make the defense look slow but will need to see open spots a little better in the NFL.

 

 

NFL Player Comparison

Isiah Pacheco/Aaron Jones

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Jaylen Wright projects very similar to Isiah Pacheco from the Kansas City Chiefs and Aaron Jones from the Green Bay Packers.  Pacheco, Jones, and Wright share similar body types and speed combos with good explosiveness.  Like Pacheco, Wright runs with violence and speed with the ability to contribute in the passing game. Similar the Aaron Jones, Wright is dynamic and has great burst.

 

 

Top 3 Fits for Jaylen Wright

 

Green Bay Packers

Aaron Jones is getting long in the tooth, and Wright could be the replacement.  Wright has a similar play style to Jones, so the transition would be smooth for both him and the Packers.

 

New York Giants

There are questions if Saquan Barkley will be back with the Giants in 2024. He was franchised last season and has expressed his desire to not be tagged again. If he were to move on, Jaylen Wright could be a solid replacement via the NFL Draft.  

 

Dallas Cowboys

Tony Pollard is in a similar situation to Saquan Barkley.  Both were franchise-tagged in 2023 and would carry a big cap hit if they were to be tagged again in 2024. Dallas would be on the hook for $12 million if they were to tag Pollard again, and that is a lot to spend on a running back.  

 

 

FANTASY OUTLOOK

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Wright's skillset and production should make him a coveted prospect after he displays his abilities at the combine. Concerns about his vision and pass protection might cause him to fall slightly in the draft. If he can showcase improved vision and consistency in blocking, Wright could solidify himself as a high-impact day 2 pick. Wright has the potential to become a dangerous weapon. 

As teams move to more space and dynamic systems, players like Wright will get more opportunities. His ability to take any play to the house cannot be understated.  While at Tennessee, he was one of only two players in school history to have multiple 80+ yard touchdown runs.  

An Isiah Pacheco projection is very fair to expect from Jaylen Wright.  Depending on the landing spot, he could be a nice complementary back in his rookie season and then take on more and more early in his career. 

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