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  • Writer's pictureElijah Southwick

2024 NFL Draft Targets: Braelon Allen

Elijah Southwick

Wisconsin RB Braelon Allen is one of the most intriguing prospects in the entire 2024 draft class. For starters, he’ll be just 20 years old on draft day and for likely the entirety of his rookie season, considering his Jan. 20 birthday. More on his age later. He’s also a bruising 6-foot-2, 245 pounds. His size and power running style goes against the grain in terms of how today’s NFL is shifting to speed and finesse based offensive schemes.

Allen entered his junior season at Wisconsin as a hot name in the 2024 draft class. But today, some of his luster has worn off. Here’s why I’m buying Allen as a player who will rise back up draft boards before the draft and will be in line for a big rookie season in the NFL.

Allen was originally recruited as a linebacker, according to his 247sports profile. But having played both sides of the ball in high school, Allen quickly became a full-time running back at Wisconsin. As a true freshman in 2021 and one of the youngest college football players in the nation at 17 years old (remember his Jan. 20, 2004 birthday), Allen ran for 1,268 rushing yards, good for third in the Big 10. In 2022, his 1,242 rushing yards ranked fourth in the conference at age 18. 

Allen’s production dipped slightly in 2023 to the tune of 984 yards, which may have caused his draft stock to lose some steam. He suffered a high ankle sprain in October against Ohio State after just 11 touches. He missed the team’s next game and didn’t look like his old self again until the final game of the season. But he was nevertheless a workhorse back in 2023 with 1,116 scrimmage yards in just 11 games for a 7-6 Wisconsin team.

Per, Allen currently projects as the RB6 of class and 86th ranked prospect overall. Being a top 100 draft pick is no easy accomplishment, especially for a running back, so despite his relative dip in stock he’s certainly still receiving his praises. I expect his stock to rise throughout the draft process.

Allen is a different style running back than those we’ve seen become stars in the league in recent years. He doesn’t possess elite speed and agility, but what he lacks in elusiveness he makes up for with power, elite tackle-breaking ability and vision. He excels at gaining yards after contact. Being more of a traditional back makes him unconventional in today’s game. But there’s no doubt in my mind that Allen will completely revamp an NFL team’s ability to win on Sundays with a power ground attack.

What Allen uniquely brings to the table is potentially an elite development path. Given his age, early college production, and size, Allen is set for a long pro football career. Considering his athletic gifts, Allen is better equipped than most to improve on his speed and quickness at the pro level. It’s probably irresponsible to compare Allen to Derrick Henry, who’s a unicorn in the league, but the potential is absolutely there.

NFL Draft projections are all over the place in February, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Braelon Allen as the first running back drafted in April. He has legit competition for the title of the draft’s RB1, but a strong pro day and NFL combine will help Allen’s case. If Allen does end up as a late third round pick or worse, I’ll be buying the dip and betting on his outlier status.

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