NFL

NFL Draft Betting Odds: Who Will Be the First Running Back Drafted in 2024?

Aidan McGrath
Aidan McGrath@ffaidanmcgrath
NFL Draft Betting Odds: Who Will Be the First Running Back Drafted in 2024?

The 2024 NFL Draft is a month away. This year's class appears be to loaded with talent on the offensive side of the ball, with quarterbacks, wide receivers, offensive linemen, and even an exciting tight end packing the upper echelons of many draft analysts' rankings.

If you're a fan of fantasy football, you likely noticed one position group missing from our list above -- running backs.

While most of fantasy football's favorite positions seem to have top-end-talent representation at the top of draft boards this year, there don't seem to be any running backs in consideration for early draft capital. Frankly, at this point, it feels safe to say there will be no running backs drafted in the first round.

This class may not have a locked in RB1 like Bijan Robinson last year -- or even a shining star like Jahmyr Gibbs behind him -- but there are still plenty of exciting running backs to watch for on draft day. Which one of them has the best odds of hearing their name called before the rest in April?

Let's take a look at FanDuel Sportsbook's NFL Draft Betting Odds market and find out.

Who Will Be the First Running Back Drafted?

First Running Back Drafted Odds

Player
Team
Odds
Trey BensonFlorida State+260
Jaylen WrightTennessee+280
Jonathon BrooksTexas+280
Marshawn LloydUSC+500
Blake CorumMichigan+550
Braelon AllenWisconsin+1900

We weren't kidding about there not being a Bijan Robinson-type player in this year's class. A quick glance at these odds can illustrate how closely grouped together this year's running back prospects seem to be even as NFL teams finalize their draft boards.

Trey Benson (+260), Jaylen Wright (+280), and Jonathon Brooks (+280) are all close together at the top of the group while Marshawn Lloyd (+500) and Blake Corum (+550) follow just behind them. There seems to be a noticeable gap between those five and Braelon Allen (+1900), but it is otherwise pretty clear that the market seems undecided on which backs are the best bets.

The market may not have a lead on which running back will be drafted first, but what about some of the major players in the NFL Draft media?

NFL Media Running Back Rankings

To get a more varied sense of how this running back class is shaping up, I pulled together the running back rankings from some of the top minds in NFL Draft media -- Dane Brugler's Top 100 rankings via The Athletic, ESPN's rankings, and the Big Board rankings from the folks at Pro Football Focus.

The cells in the chart below show each running back prospect's overall ranking in the 2024 draft class, as well as their positional ranking relative to their peers (in parenthesis).

Player
Brugler
ESPN
PFF
Trey Benson92nd (RB7)96th (RB4)86th (RB5)
Jaylen Wright89th (RB6)105th (RB5)71st (RB2)
Jonathon Brooks70th (RB1)41st (RB1)56th (RB1)
Marshawn Lloyd-65th (RB2)105th (RB7)
Blake Corum73rd (RB2)69th (RB3)75th (RB3)
Braelon Allen75th (RB3)147th (RB8)129th (RB9)

These rankings are by no means an end-all, be-all for this year's draft class, but it certainly looks like a feather in Jonathon Brooks' cap that each of these rankings has him as their top overall running back prospect. The Texas Longhorns rusher even clocks in as ESPN's 41st-ranked player overall.

Based on these rankings, he would make for a good bet at +280 compared to frontrunner Trey Benson's +260 odds -- if not for the ACL tear he suffered in November last year. That injury could cause him to slip in the draft despite looking like a top talent in the class.

Behind Brooks, things continue to look murky. Benson has the shortest odds to be drafted first but ranks no higher than RB4 in any of these rankings -- even falling as far as RB7, according to Brugler.

Similarly, PFF seems to like Jaylen Wright's skill set, ranking him as their RB2 and 71st overall player. That lines up well with his +280 odds, but both Brugler and ESPN rank him as their RB6 and RB5 overall, respectively.

The most consistent player here after Brooks appears to be Blake Corum of the Michigan Wolverines. Each of these rankers has him as either their RB2 or RB3 and between the 69th- and 75th-ranked player overall. He seems to have broad appeal and a skillset the league will value, making him an interesting bet with his +550 odds.

Prospect Profile Highlights

So far we've talked about how the betting markets and NFL Draft media evaluate these players but haven't actually talked about the players themselves. Even if they're generally all ranked closely together, they each carry their own unique talents to the next level.

Trey Benson's collegiate production profile was a little lacking, but the 6'0", 216-pound back blazed a 4.39-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. That speed and athleticism could be enough to get him drafted ahead of his peers, even with questions about his lack of production until his third college season.

Like Benson, Jaylen Wright was a Combine standout. He clocked a 4.38-second time on his own dash while measuring in at 5'11", 210 lbs. Unlike Benson, Wright's speed matched his college resume. The Tennessee back contributed in all three of his seasons and averaged a head-turning 7.4 yards per carry last year as the Vols' primary ball carrier.

The Longhorns didn't use Jonathon Brooks much until his third year but for good reason -- they had both Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson ahead of him in 2021 and 2022. Brooks averaged a strong 142.5 yards from scrimmage per game in 2023, bolstering his rushing production with surprising pass-catching abilities.

Marshawn Lloyd's raw stats don't jump off the page, but he consistently made the most of his opportunities and looked like the best back on all of his teams. He looks like an NFL back with his 5'9", 220 lbs frame and flashed 4.46 wheels at the NFL Combine. Playing alongside Caleb Williams in his final season, he even averaged 7.1 yards per carry for the USC Trojans.

Unlike any of these other backs, Blake Corum already has an NFL connection -- new Los Angeles Chargers head coach Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh and Corum are fresh off winning the CFP Championship together, and Harbaugh's Chargers look like they might need a reliable rusher (even after signing Gus Edwards). Connections aside, Corum was a major producer at the college level and scored an eye-popping 28 touchdowns last year.

Finally, it would be dangerous to write off Wisconsin Badgers standout Braelon Allen. Allen rushed for 1,268 yards and 12 touchdowns as a 17-year-old freshman. His production declined in 2023 as defenses keyed in on his rushing ability, but few in this year's class can rival his pile-pushing ability at 6'1", 235 lbs.

Favorite Bet: Jaylen Wright (+280)

In an NFL that has increasingly emphasized speed, Wright's 4.39-second 40 and efficient rushing production could set him apart from the rest of his peers in the upcoming draft. After 2023 rookies Jahmyr Gibbs and De'Von Achane found such notable success last year, it makes sense that teams might try to find the "next" Gibbs or Achane in this year's class.

Wright flashed his breakaway speed against top SEC competition in 2023, even ripping off a 75-yard rushing score against the Georgia Bulldogs. Even if NFL teams have questions about how the Tennessee offense prepares players for the next level, Wright's speed will clearly translate.

Between the sticker on his helmet and the 22 passes he caught in his final season, teams might even see flashes of Alvin Kamara in his game (even if Kamara was a truly unique prospect). The success of players with similar builds and speed could lead to Wright becoming the first running back drafted in 2024.


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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.