2024 NFL Draft Predictions: Odds & Pick for First Running Back Drafted

2024 NFL Draft Predictions: Odds & Pick for First Running Back Drafted article feature image

Via Matthew Visinsky/Getty Images. Pictured: Texas Longhorns running back Jonathon Brooks (#24) runs up field during the college football game between the Texas Longhorns and TCU Horned Frogs on November 11, 2023 at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, TX.

The 2024 NFL Draft lacks elite talent at running back. There's no Bijan Robinson or Saquon Barkley-level prospect this year. DraftKings currently lists -1600 odds on under 0.5 running backs to go in the first round.

The running back position has continued to be devalued in the NFL, and it will be a competitive race to see which running back will be selected first in this year’s draft.

While this class lacks first-round talent, multiple running backs will have their names called on Friday, when the second and third rounds take place. Let’s look at the odds for the first running back to be drafted and find some value in the market.

2024 NFL Draft Predictions: Odds & Pick for First Running Back Drafted

Here are the odds for the first running back taken via BetMGM as of Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET.

Jonathon BrooksTexas-125
Trey BensonFlorida State+200
Blake CorumMichigan+450
MarShawn LloydUSC+850
Jaylen WrightTennessee+900

It is a race between those five running backs to be the first selected, with Brooks moving into the favored position after previously being available as high as +250.

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Jonathon Brooks -115 (FanDuel)

If Brooks didn't tear his ACL last season, he’d be receiving some first-round buzz this year. He racked up 1,135 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns at a 6.1 yards per carry clip in 11 games before the season-ending injury. However, he’s targeting the beginning of training camp to be available to whichever team drafts him.

Brooks waited his turn behind Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson at Texas before getting an opportunity, and he did not disappoint. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler ranked Brooks at the top of this running back class, crediting his “elusive traits to create his own yardage, both at the line of scrimmage and on the second level.”

Brooks has experience in both zone and gap concepts, making him a scheme-versatile player. His compact running style allows him to consistently churn out yardage despite his lack of overwhelming size or power.

In his recent article detailing draft intel that he hears from teams, Adam Schefter wrote that Brooks likely would have been the first running back selected, possibly in the first round, had he not suffered the knee injury. Schefter also said that some teams think “it would be a surprise” if the Cowboys let Brooks slide past them at No. 56.

MarShawn Lloyd +900 (FanDuel)

My favorite flier on the board is MarShawn Lloyd, the USC product. Lloyd wasn’t an every-down running back for the Trojans last year, but he led this year’s draft class with an elite 7.1 yards per carry. He was also one of five FBS running backs with 100+ carries to average over seven yards per carry, and he’s tough to bring down in the open field with the best Elusive Rating in this class per PFF.

Lloyd had 116 carries last season for USC, and his lack of proven production combined with a large workload could hurt his evaluation. His 22.4% College Dominator Rating ranks in just the 45th percentile per PlayerProfiler, and that metric is typically predictive of NFL success.

However, Lloyd ran a 4.46-second 40-yard dash at 220 lbs, finishing with an excellent Relative Athletic Score (RAS) of 8.92. Across two seasons as a starter, he averaged over 4.0 yards after contact and has some of the best big-play ability in this class.

Lloyd’s pass-catching profile is limited in production, but he had the highest career yards per reception (13.2) of any running back in this class. It’s easy to see his combination of size, speed and elusiveness translating into a more significant role as a pass-catcher in the NFL.

Lloyd was a significant riser during the Senior Bowl, and his performance in Mobile could drive up his draft stock. Daniel Jeremiah had Lloyd ranked 56th overall in his final top 150 prospects, making him the top running back in this class.

The Final Verdict

Brooks has continued to see his odds shorten as the market has backed him as the favorite to be the first running back drafted. If you can find even money or better on Brooks, I’d consider that a worthwhile investment.

Otherwise, I’m looking to take a longshot flier in the market, and I see some value on Lloyd at +900 on FanDuel. It’s meaningful to me that Jeremiah ranked him as his RB1, and his continued rise boards through the pre-draft process could result in a surprisingly high selection on Friday.

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