Almost like old times: 2024 Preliminary RB Preview … For the RBs, the 2023 must have felt a little bit like the good old days when the position was one of the most valued areas on draft day. Indeed, two backs – Bijan Robinson who was selected 8th overall by Atlanta and Jahmyr Gibbs. selected 12th by Detroit – were chosen within the first dozen picks for just the second time since 2010. Of course, it was no real surprise that Robinson, the former Texas Longhorn star, would go that high as he was considered to be one of the best players in the draft; however, it was a huge surprise that Gibbs went that early as he was thought to be more of a longshot late first-round possibility.
However, once one gets past those two early picks, it was actually a rather somewhat quiet draft for the position. Only one other back – Zach Charbonnet taken 52nd overall by Seattle – for example, was taken in the first two rounds while a total of 7 were selected within the first three rounds and 18 were chosen overall. In fact, this was just the second time in the past dozen drafts that fewer than 20 backs were selected overall.
And while 2024 looks like it will have some very good backs, it is very possible that none will be selected within the opening round. If there is a first-round breakthrough at the position, though, it may come from Raheim Sanders of Arkansas, a 240-pound slasher with a real burst. Sanders, who averaged 6.5 yards per carry in 2022 when he ran for over 1,400 yards, is also a decent receiver, but isn’t going to necessarily make a lot of people miss in space. If Sanders gets a challenge for the top grade among backs this fall it could come from Ohio State’s TreVeyon Henderson, who had a breakout year as a true freshman in 2021, but was limited last year because of a broken foot. Meanwhile, other top RB prospects for next year include the Michigan duo of Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards, Wisconsin bulldozer Braelon Allen, Will Shipley of Clemson and Trey Benson of Florida State. Pro scouts will also be keeping a close eye on Isaiah Davis of South Dakota State, one of the top FCS prospects last fall who somewhat surprisingly opted to stay in school. And we’d be remiss in not mentioning that the back that most NFL teams would really like to get their hands on this year is Mississippi sophomore Quinshon Judkins, who ran for 1,567 yards last fall despite sharing the ball with Zach Evans, a 6th round pick by the LA Rams this past April. For now, here is our preliminary ranking for the top backs for the 2024 draft.