NFL Draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah explains why Jaylen Wright is one of his favorite backs

IMG_3593by:Grant Ramey02/22/24


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Jaylen Wright is one of the top prospects at running back in the upcoming NFL Draft, according to NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah. On a conference call with reporters on Thursday, Jeremiah described Wright as one of multiple backs that could go on Day 2 of the draft.

Wright, Jeremiah added, is one of his two favorite backs in a class that includes “six to eight really solid players” at the position.

“(He) is just real springy and juicy,” Jeremiah said, “stop-start quickness, home run hitter, finishes runs. He can get skinny though the hole. Really, really quick feet. He is 210 pounds, so he has a little bit of size to him. Enough size to him. He is probably the fastest, the most explosive of all these guys.”

Wright in November became the 19th running back in Tennessee football program history to go over 1,000 yards in a season. He ran 137 times for 1,013 yards averaging 7.4 yards per carry, reaching the 1,000-yard mark in 22 fewer carries than any other Tennessee running back before him.

ESPN currently has Wright ranked ninth out of the top-10 running backs available in the draft, behind Jonathon Brooks (Texas), Trey Benson (Florida State), Braelon Allen (Wisconsin), Blake Corum (Michigan), Audric Estime (Notre Dame), Bucky Irving (Oregon) and Rasheen Ali (Marshall). Wright was ranked ahead of Kentucky’s Ray Davis.

Wright during his breakout junior season hit the 1,000-yard mark more efficiently than any other Tennessee back before him. He finished the regular season at 1,013 yards on just 137 carries, 22 fewer than any other Tennessee back that went for 1,000-plus.

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.

Jeremiah said on the conference call that the run on running backs in the draft could depend simply on when the first team picks a running back on Day 2, with the range dropping to the bottom of the second round or early in the third.

“I think day two is going to be the running back day,” Jeremiah said. “I’m curious to see — I have a little bit of a theory here. I have about six to eight running backs that are very closely graded. I don’t have any of them up to where we had Bijan (Robinson) or (Jahmyr) Gibbs last year with those type of grades. Six to eight really solid players. 

“I wonder if we’re going to see a game of chicken in the second round where teams are saying, well, we have the grade to take this guy here, but we don’t want to be the first one in line. We just need to make sure we’re not the last one in line.

“Does that push running backs down?” Jeremiah continued. “Maybe we could get to the bottom of the second, maybe even the top of the third round, and then once the first one goes, I think you’ll see all these guys come off the board.”

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