CLEVELAND, Ohio — One of the best running backs available in the 2024 NFL Draft also presents one of the trickiest dilemmas.
When you look at Michigan running back Blake Corum from a pure talent standpoint, he is arguably the most talented back in this year’s class. He’s coming off three straight seasons with at least 950 yards rushing and double-digit touchdowns.
Corum was a major reason why the Wolverines won their first national championship in 27 years.
But there are some significant concerns regarding Corum that NFL teams have to navigate. One is his age. He’s 23 and will turn 24 in late November, which is old for a rookie running back.
The other is the heavy workload he had at Michigan. He’s played 39 games in his last three seasons at Michigan and had 240 or more carries in each of his last two carries.
For his career, Corum has 675 carries over four seasons. It’s concerning if you’re worried about the longevity of a potential pro career.
That said, if an NFL team can get four years of Corum at a level near where he was at Michigan, it might be a good investment. It’s just part of the debate teams will have when talking about Corum.
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As part of our ranking of the position groups in the 2023 NFL Draft class, we have the running backs ranked No. 10 of 11. Catch up with our positional rankings here.
The Browns run game was just not the same after Nick Chubb was lost for the season in Week 2. Jerome Ford is a boom-or-bust back, so the Browns either need a back for a tandem with Ford or another true No. 1, especially if Chubb can’t return to his pre-injury form.
More about Brooks: After the departure of Bijan Robinson to the NFL last season, Brooks stepped up effectively into the top running back role for Texas. He had just 51 carries for 340 yards and six TDs in his first two seasons with the Longhorns.
When you look at Brooks, the first thing that stands out is his vision and patience. He waits for the hole to open and hits it aggressively. Brooks also has plus speed and balance, and he can be a weapon in the passing game.
Brooks tore his ACL in November, so any team that drafts him might not see him at his best until the end of the 2024 season at the earliest. That said, a team willing to be patient and expecting a big payoff in the future might get rewarded.
More about Corum: As I said at the top, Corum’s talent is unquestioned. There is a reason he was so productive at Michigan, particularly the last two seasons.
Despite being just 5-8, Corum has more than adequate size for the NFL. Corum is a very fluid runner who can find open holes in the running game.
However, Corum lacks breakaway speed, which could limit his ceiling. But he feels like a high-floor prospect who will have a solid pro career at the very worst. The question will be what team takes the chance on an older player at a position with a shorter shelf life than other NFL positions, and if it will happen earlier than expected.
More about Estime: I’ve made no secret that I really like Estime as a prospect, particularly for the Browns as a complement to Jerome Ford. Estime is a big back and he absolutely knows how to use his size.
However, he’s more than just a power back. Estime has great vision and is not an easy back for defenders to break down. As I detailed back in January, Estime was one of the best in college football in terms of explosive run rate, which is more indicative than most stats of pro success.
One concern with Estime is that he lacks breakaway speed. The comparison that comes up with Estime a lot is David Montgomery, and most teams would love to have a running back like Montgomery if they don’t have a true No. 1.
More about Irving: The success of De’Von Achane with the Dolphins last season should be a good reminder that size isn’t everything when it comes to running backs. That’s good news for Irving, who is far different than the other four backs on this list.
Irving may not be as fast as Achane is, but he is an incredibly fluid back with great change of direction without losing much speed. He also is a true weapon out of the backfield with 87 catches for 712 yards and five TDs in his two seasons with Oregon.
The lack of size is what could keep Irving from being drafted in the first two rounds. That said, you’re drafting this player for what he is and what he isn’t. If he is used like the Dolphins utilized Achane, he could have a major impact.
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