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Is Badgers’ Braelon Allen the top RB in 2024 NFL Draft?

Braelon Allen continues to receive praise ahead of the 2023 college football season.

The Wisconsin Badgers have historically had some of the top running backs in college football.

From Heisman-winning Ron Dayne to the stars of the 2010s in Jonathan Taylor, Melvin Gordon, and James White, the Badgers have continued to sit atop college football in the run game.

Now, the Badgers are preparing to send yet another running back to the NFL.

Braelon Allen, the 19-year-old phenom, is preparing for his final season with the Badgers before heading off to the NFL.

Allen was recently regarded as the top draft-eligible running back ahead of the 2023 college football season by the heralded analyst Phil Steele.

Steele released his list of the top 10 draft-eligible running backs and 5 of the 10 were from the Big Ten Conference.

Here is his entire ranking:

  1. Braelon Allen, Wisconsin
  2. Raheim Sanders, Arkansas
  3. Blake Corum, Michigan
  4. Trey Benson, Florida State
  5. Will Shipley, Clemson
  6. TreVeyon Henderson, Ohio State
  7. Roman Hemby, Maryland
  8. Ja’Quinden Jackson, Utah
  9. Kendall Milton, Georgia
  10. Donovan Edwards, Michigan

There is no shortage of NFL talent within this list, and the most remarkable feat about Braelon Allen being listed as the best running back in his class is that he will likely be the youngest player drafted in the 2024 NFL Draft.

At just 17 years old, Allen made his first appearance in a college football game. He had 7 carries for 30 yards in his freshman debut against Eastern Michigan on September 11, 2022.

He then made his second appearance on October 2 against No. 14 Michigan where he ran for 19 yards on 5 carries.

It wasn’t until October 9, 2022, that the Badgers made him the starting running back. From there, he exploded and quickly became a household name in the sport. On 18 carries, Allen ran for 131 yards and 1 TD.

Allen would end up finishing with 1,219 yards and 11 TDs in 9 games as a starter. He did all this on 174 carries, averaging about 7 yards per carry.

In his sophomore season, Allen ran for 1,242 yards and 11 TDs in 12 games, yet the Badgers offense was never able to fully put it together and limped to a 7-6 record and 91st in total offense.

Looking ahead to Allen’s junior season, he will be playing under OC Phil Longo’s “air-raid” offense which should allow both Allen and fellow RB Chez Mellusi to explode.

Pro Football Focus also created its own ranking of the top running backs in the 2024 NFL Draft and had Allen ranked 4th behind Trey Benson, Blake Corum, and Donovan Edwards.

PFF had this to say about Allen:

“Ah, yes, another extremely productive Wisconsin running back.

Allen is coming off back-to-back 1,200-yard rushing seasons as a true freshman and sophomore. Even more impressive is when you realize he did that while Wisconsin faced eight or more defenders in the box on 61.4% of its rushing attempts last season, the fourth-highest rate in the country — behind only the three service academies.

He’s also a massive back at 6-foot-2 and 240 pounds — ranking in the 97th and 96th percentiles, respectively. He’s not just a bruiser, either. There’s plenty of finesse to Allen’s game, as he can dance behind the line of scrimmage to find open space.”

If Allen can maintain his health and put together another consistent season, he should be a favorite to be one of the first running backs taken off the board in the 2024 NFL Draft.