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Where is Running Back Among Chargers Needs in 2024 Draft?

RB Draft cover

Welcome to Part 1 of our 2024 draft preview series, which will be a position-by-position look at key prospects and where the Chargers roster stands ahead of the NFL Draft. This series will include a look at which prospects could be options for the Chargers later this month.

We chatted with NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah to break down the running backs in this draft class. Jeremiah, who is also the color commentator for Chargers radio games, can be found on X/Twitter @MoveTheSticks for his analysis.

Chargers status at RB

Gus Edwards, Isaiah Spiller, Elijah Dotson, Jaret Patterson

The Bolts running back room is in the midst of a shift under Chargers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh.

With an emphasis on being a more physical and punishing team, the Bolts signed Gus Edwards early in free agency. The veteran back ran for 810 yards and scored 13 touchdowns in 2023 and as the featured back in a dominant Ravens running game.

Couple that with his familiarity with Chargers General Manager Joe Hortiz and Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman, and Edwards is a natural fit in the backfield.

The room will look a bit different in 2024 with Austin Ekeler signing in Washington and veteran Joshua Kelley currently a free agent. That leaves 2022 fourth-round pick Isaiah Spiller as the longest tenured running back that remains in the room.

Spiller has seen limited action during the first two years of his career, but will have a chance to carve out a role in a new offense.

Rounding out the group are both Elijah Dotson and Jaret Patterson, who spent the majority of last season on the practice squad.

Is RB a position of need?

Jeremiah believes Edwards fits exactly what the Bolts want to do in the run game — but feels as though he can be maximized as one part of a dynamic unit.

"Well, you got the big back with Gus, so he can kind of be the hammer," Jeremiah said. "I think he's best as part of a committee.

"He can play that role of the big guy, so I think trying to find maybe a shiftier compliment to him," Jeremiah added.

It would be a move Jeremiah sees happening in the middle to later part of the draft rather than early depending on how the picks shape up.

"For what they need, I don't think they need a lead back, I think they need a good piece of the puzzle," Jeremiah said. "I think you can be patient on that and see how the draft falls and how it goes.

"I don't think there's a high-end guy to go after that high anyways," Jeremiah added.

Still though, the NFL Network analyst believes Spiller could still make a mark with a new offense and could be a contributor as well.

"Spiller, we still haven't had a chance to see enough of him to know exactly what he is, but I really liked him coming out so I know there's ability there," Jeremiah said. "We just haven't had a chance to see it.

"He can benefit from a change of staff and some new voices around him to see if that unlocks him a little bit," Jeremiah added.

Key draft questions

1. You had no RBs in your Top 50 rankings. Is there no clear-cut No. 1 guy?

"I think it's a combination of you've got a handful of guys, five, six guys that are closely graded that if there was only one of them or two of them, then one of them will probably go in the top 50. But the thought being there's five or six of them, I don't want to be the first one in line, I'll just wait and get the fourth, fifth or sixth one. There's not that much difference."

2. Was the running back market in free agency any indication to this year's draft class?

"Look how fast the running backs went off the board in free agency and it will tell you everything you need to know about the running back draft class. They're gone, all of them. It's just not a high-end group this year."

Expert rankings

Jeremiah currently has no running back in his latest overall Top 50 list, and neither does ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., in his Top 25.

The Athletic's Dane Brugler had seven running backs in his most recent Top 100 list, with the highest coming in at No. 70 (Jonathon Brooks).

Meanwhile, Pro Football Focus has five running backs ranked in the top 100 in their Big Board Rankings, with a highest of No. 56 (Brooks).

Potential Chargers options

Note: Heights and weights are from each player's profile on (linked for each player's name).


School: Florida State | Year: Senior | Ht: 6-foot-0 | Wt: 216 pounds

2023 stats: 13 games (10 starts); 156 rushes for 905 yards (5.8 avg.) and 14 TDs; 20 receptions for 227 yards (11.4 avg.) and 1 TD; 87.1 scrimmage yards per game

Quick fact: Benson spent the first two seasons of his collegiate career at Oregon before joining Florida State in 2022. In just two seasons, Benson tied for program record with three 80-yard touchdowns and became the first player in school history with an 80-yard touchdown catch and 80-yard touchdown rush.


School: Texas | Year: Redshirt Sophomore | Ht: 6-foot-0 | Wt: 216 pounds

2023 stats: 11 games (eight starts); 187 rushes for 1,139 yards (6.1 avg.) and 10 TDs; 25 receptions for 286 yards (11.4 avg.) and 1 TD; 129.5 scrimmage yards per game

Quick fact: A Doak Walker Award semifinalist and All-Big 12 Second-Team selection, Brooks shined in his lone season as the lead back for the Longhorns. He was second in the Big 12 in all-purpose yards and sixth in the nation in rushing yards (1,139) through the first 10 games before suffering an injury late in the season.

DJ's Take: "Coming off the injury, that's a big part of it there. Finally got a chance to be the guy. Downhill runner, I thought he was more smooth than dynamic, but had excellent vision. I thought he did a good job getting out on the route and was a little bit limited in pass protection."


School: Tennessee | Year: Junior | Ht: 5-foot-10½ | Wt: 210 pounds

2023 stats: 12 games (12 starts); 137 rushes for 1,013 yards (7.4 avg.) and 4 TDs; 22 receptions for 141 yards (6.4 avg.); 96.2 scrimmage yards per game

Quick fact: Wright finished his time at Tennessee as the leading rusher in each of his last two seasons and an All-SEC Second-Team selection in 2023. His 1,103 rushing yards was the 19th 1,000-yard rushing season in Vols program history and the first time it was done since 2015.

DJ's Take: "He's the juiciest of all these guys. I just described him as a real springy runner. He's got a lot of bounce to him. Obviously, he ran a 4.38, he finishes runs. He's got that unique kind of quick foot running style, but he's got a lot of juice."


School: Wisconsin | Year: Junior | Ht: 6-foot-1 | Wt: 235 pounds

2023 stats: 11 games (nine starts); 181 rushes for 984 yards (5.4 avg.) and 12 TDs; 28 receptions for 131 yards (4.7 avg.); 101.4 scrimmage yards per game

Quick fact: One of the younger prospects in this year's draft, Allen earned Second-Team All-Big Ten honors in all three seasons at Wisconsin. He would prove to be one of the Badgers' most productive running backs of all time, finishing his career ranked ninth with 3,494 rushing yards.

DJ's Take: "Braelon Allen is actually not all that dissimilar to Gus, I would say if you're looking for a similar type back there, I think it's more of a DNA match than a compliment with him. A no-nonsense tackle breaker, absorbs contact, catches the ball a little bit out of the backfield. He kind of stylistically very similar to Gus."


School: Oregon | Year: Junior | Ht: 5-foot-9 | Wt: 192 pounds

2023 stats: 14 games (14 starts); 186 rushes for 1,180 yards (6.3 avg.) and 11 TDs; 56 receptions for 413 yards (7.4 avg.); 113.8 scrimmage yards per game

Quick fact: Irving was a force in his two seasons with the Ducks, surpassing the 1,000 yard rushing mark in both years. He also had stellar 2023 where he led all FBS running backs in receptions (56) and was fourth in the conference in rushing yards per game (84.29) to earn First-Team All-Pac-12 honors.


School: Michigan | Year: Senior | Ht: 5-foot-8 | Wt: 205 pounds

2023 stats: 15 games (15 starts); 258 rushes for 1,245 yards (6.3 avg.) and 27 TDs; 16 receptions for 117 yards (7.3 avg.) and 1 TD; 90.8 scrimmage yards per game

Quick fact: The two-time All-American led the charge in the backfield during Michigan's road to a National Championship in 2023. He finished his collegiate career as the program's career record-holder in rushing touchdowns (58), total touchdowns (61) and career points scored (356).

DJ's Take: "Corum is as tough as they come. He gets small in the hole, he has stop, start quickness, excellent vision. I thought he ran faster than I expected at 4.53 because there's a little bit of a question on the long speed. Leader, winner, all that stuff is awesome."


School: Notre Dame | Year: Junior | Ht: 5-foot-11 | Wt: 221 pounds

2023 stats: 12 games (12 starts); 210 rushes for 1,341 yards (6.4 avg.) and 18 TDs; 17 receptions for 142 yards (8.4 avg.); 123.6 scrimmage yards per game

Quick fact: Estimé produced in all three years with the Fighting Irish and led the team in rushing for each of his final two years. A Second-Team All-American selection by various outlets in 2023, the lead back put together the fifth-most rushing yards in a season program history with 1,341.


School: USC | Year: Senior | Ht: 5-foot-9 | Wt: 220 pounds

2023 stats: 11 games; 116 rushes for 820 yards (7.1 avg.) and 9 TDs; 13 receptions for 232 yards (17.8 avg.); 95.6 scrimmage yards per game

Quick fact: After spending his first three seasons at South Carolina, Lloyd was an explosive playmaker in his lone season with the Trojans. He was tied for the highest yards per carry in the Pac-12 (7.1) and finished the regular season in the top five of rushing yards per game.

DJ's Take: "He's one of my favorites. He reminds me a little bit of D'Andre Swift. Patient, he's got nice burst, got really good balance. He just needs some work in pass protection, a lot of that is the same for a lot of these guys. But good size, 220-pound guy."

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