Execs, coaches, scouts rank NFL's top 10 running backs for 2024

Nick Chubb is set to return to the field in 2024 after suffering a season-ending knee injury last season. Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images

With 2024 NFL training camps on the horizon, the league's true insiders made their voices heard. ESPN surveyed league executives, coaches and scouts to help us rank the top 10 players at 11 different positions, from quarterback to cornerback and all positions in between. This was the fifth edition of these rankings, and as usual, several players moved up or fell off last year's lists.

A reminder of the rankings process: Voters gave us their best 10 players at a position, then we compiled the results and ranked candidates based on number of top-10 votes, composite average and dozens of interviews, with research and film study help from ESPN NFL analyst Matt Bowen. In total, nearly 80 voters submitted a ballot on at least one position, and in many cases all positions. Additional voting and follow-up calls with those surveyed helped us break any ties.

Each section included quotes and nuggets from the voters on every ranked player -- even the honorable mentions. The objective was to identify the best players for 2024. This was not a five-year projection or a career achievement award. Who are the best players today?

We rolled out a position per day over 11 days. The schedule: running backs (7/8), defensive tackles (7/9), edge rushers (7/10), safeties (7/11), tight ends (7/12), interior offensive linemen (7/13), offensive tackles (7/14), quarterbacks (7/15), off-ball linebackers (7/16), wide receivers (7/17), cornerbacks (7/18).

The demise of the running backs was greatly -- OK, mildly -- exaggerated.

The glory days of the 350-carry back are mostly gone, but the position has experienced a major infusion of young talent.

Just look at the past two drafts, which produced three of the top eight recipients in this year's top-10 ranking. All three players are 23 or younger.

None are close to unseating this year's No. 1, who garnered more votes than just about any player at any position. But they are eager to try -- and might just have the skill sets to do it.

Overall, teams leaned on the running game slightly less in 2023. Thirteen teams surpassed 2,000 yards on the ground, compared to 18 in 2022.

But that didn't discount the great performances, and free agency showed us that running the ball still pays. Six different backs earned deals worth between $16 and $48 million. Several are on this list ... and in new uniforms. Let's look at some of the game's top ball carriers as ranked by execs, coaches and scouts around the NFL.