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Where ESPN projects Tennessee's Jaylen Wright to be picked in three-round NFL mock draft

IMG_3593by:Grant Ramey04/15/24


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ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. and Field Yates have Tennessee running back Jaylen Wright projected as a third-round pick, according to a three-round NFL mock draft published on Monday

Kiper and Yates, who alternated picks in the mock draft, had Wright going No. 77 overall to the Las Vegas Raiders:

“Finally, another running back off the board. The Raiders lost Josh Jacobs, which means there are opportunities for touches in 2024. Wright averaged 7.4 yards per rush in 2023, which ranked third in the FBS.”

Wright was the second running back off board in the mock draft, after Texas RB Jonathon Brooks was taken at No. 56 overall by the Dallas Cowboys. 

Florida State running back Trey Benson went No. 85 overall to the Cleveland Browns, USC’s MarShawn Lloyd went No. 92 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Michigan’s Blake Corum went No. 97 overall to the Cincinnati Bengals. 

Jaylen Wright last season: 137 carried, 1,013 yards, 7.4 yards per carry

Kiper in March listed Wright as one of his top risers coming out of the NFL Scouting Combine, writing that Wright could headline a running back group that “is a little underwhelming as a whole” and is without a clear No. 1 back in the group. 

Wright turned heads heads and climbed draft boards coming out of the Combine after he was clocked at 4.38 seconds in the 40, jumped 11-2 in the broad jump and had a 38-inch vertical. 

“Wright,” Kiper wrote at the time, “who rushed for 1,013 yards on just 137 carries last season, is now firmly in the mix to be the top back off the board in April’s draft. I have a third-round grade on him.”

Kiper added that a back may not be picked in the first two rounds of the draft. He had Johnathon Brooks (Texas), Trey Benson (Florida State) and Audric Estime (Notre Dame) ranked ahead of Wright before the Combine. 

“So with Brooks still recovering from the torn ACL in his right knee he suffered in November,” Kiper wrote, “there was a chance for the guys underneath him to rise to the occasion and that included Wright, who was my fourth-ranked back. 

“All Wright did was run a lightning-quick 4.38 40-yard dash, which ranked second at his position, and put up an 11-foot-2 broad jump, which was best among the running backs. Plus, his 38-inch vertical leap was in the top five. Those are stellar numbers, particularly with Estime running a disappointing 4.71 40.”

Jaylen Wright ‘far from (a sleeper in the NFL Draft) now’

Wright in November became the 19th running back in Tennessee football program history to go over 1,000 yards in a season. He reached the 1,000-yard mark in 22 fewer carries than any other Tennessee running back before him.

His 7.4 yards per carry is also the highest among the 1,000-yard back, just above Charlie Garner’s 7.3-yard average in 1993 (159 attempts, 1,161 yards) and well north of the next highest, James Stewart’s 6.0 yards per carry in 1994 (170 attempts, 1,028 yards).

Wright was a three-star running back prospect in the On3 Industry Ranking out of Southern High School in Durham, N.C. in the class of 2021. He was ranked No. 515 overall in the class, No. 35 among running backs and No. 26 in the state of North Carolina.

“He was considered a sleeper coming into the combine,” ESPN’s Jordan Reid wrote, “but he’s far from that now. Wright shows home run speed on tape and plays even faster than his timed speed. He led the nation in yards per carry last season (7.4), and while the 5-10 210-pounder was viewed as a fourth- or fifth-round pick a week ago, I think he could now go inside the top 100.” 

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