After two running backs came off the board in the first round of the 2023 NFL draft, next year could see a return to the conventional wisdom for the position.
"I didn't expect there to be a Bijan Robinson-level running back in the 2024 draft class—and there isn't," The Athletic's Dane Brugler wrote Thursday.
"In fact, there isn't a draft-eligible prospect at the position I can say with confidence will be a slam dunk top-50 pick."
Michigan star Blake Corum was the top ball-carrier in Brugler's positional ranking ahead of the 2023 season.
He had 1,463 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground to go along with 11 catches for 80 yards and one score last year.
"Corum is a ball of energy as a runner with above-average vision and decision-making," Brugler wrote.
"He has the agile footwork to make sharp cuts without slowing down and always keeps his eyes and feet on the same page."
Another member of the Wolverines' backfield came in at third. Donovan Edwards ran for 991 yards and averaged 7.1 yards per carry as a sophomore while playing alongside Corum.
Edwards' relatively lighter workload could work in his favor since he shouldn't have the same kind of wear and tear on his body as others in the draft class.
Jahmyr Gibbs had 486 total touches in his three years at Georgia Tech and Alabama, more than 100 fewer than Robinson had over the same timeframe at Texas.
That didn't stop him from getting picked 12th overall by the Detroit Lions.
James Cook had an even lower usage (297 touches) at Georgia and was still a second-round pick of the Buffalo Bills in 2022.
For those scouting the top draft-eligible running backs, the Big Ten will be the conference to watch.
Four of the five best on Brugler's board reside at B1G schools: Corum, Edwards, Wisconsin's Braelon Allen ad Ohio State's TreVeyon Henderson.