As the draft concluded, the Denver Broncos began contacting multiple college-free agents about their interest in signing with them. One of those undrafted free agents the Broncos reached out to and did end up signing was Youngstown State speedster running back, Jaleel McLaughlin.
He is a 5’7”, 187-pound running back who is known for his explosive rushing ability and is the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher. He played at Notre Dame (Ohio College) and Youngstown State and totaled 8,161 yards rushing, 78 rushing touchdowns, and 66 career receptions for 643 yards and 6 touchdowns. Now, he did most of this against lesser talent, but he is coming off a year where he rushed for 1,588 yards and 13 touchdowns while also catching 19 passes for 300 yards and two touchdowns. He had four games of over 200 yards rushing and averaged an impressive 7 yards per carry.
With the help of moonlight workouts that began in college, Jaleel McLaughlin put himself in position to realize an NFL dream.— The Athletic NFL (@TheAthleticNFL) May 23, 2023
"He’s just an all-around winner."@NickKosmider on why some say the NCAA's all-time leading rusher is a steal for the Broncos.https://t.co/az51rEpdGx
Now he joins a Broncos roster where he has a pretty good chance of carving himself out a role on offense. He is also joining a team with a head coach and play-caller who has a history of getting productivity out of backs like McLaughlin.
Weight: 187 pounds
40-time: 4.44 seconds (Pro Day)
Bench Press: 17 reps (Pro Day)
How undrafted rookie running back Jaleel McLaughlin fits with the Denver Broncos
McLaughlin joins a pretty open but crowded running back room in Denver. Currently rehabbing running back Javonte Williams may or may not be ready for training camp and they did sign veteran Samaje Perine as well. However, behind those two, including Williams who is still a bit of an unknown right now, things are wide open. You have former Saints running back Tony Jones Jr., journeyman and former XFL runner Jacques Patrick, 2022 rookie Tyler Badie, Damarea Crockett, Tyreik McAllister, and now UDFA, Jaleel McLaughlin. These six backs will be competing for likely one roster spot on the Broncos' 53-man roster, so it will be a tough road ahead of McLaughlin and the rest of these backs.
With that said, you have to like McLaughlin’s chances. He is likely the most explosive back currently on the roster, plays bigger than his size, is agile and explosive, and can catch passes out of the backfield.
I hate comparing every undersized and explosive back to the great Darren Sproles, but I am doing it here. Mostly because Sean Payton has Sproles in New Orleans and knows how to utilize a back of this size and skill set.
He can contribute as a change of pace back that has the ability to run inside or outside and is someone you try to get into space. He could be deadly in the passing/screen game which is something Payton likes to do.
First of course, before we get ahead of ourselves here, McLaughlin needs to prove he can produce against NFL talent. This will be a huge talent jump for him and the size and speed of the game could be too much for him. So, we need to see how he does there first before we make any bold predictions.
Of the undrafted rookies, I think McLaughlin may have one of the best or best odds of cracking the 53-man roster. He seems like someone who could stand out in the early portions of training camp when the pads are off and is someone we are talking about. I also think he is someone who can do damage in the second half of a preseason game. He has the speed and explosion. vision and agility to make big plays consistently. So I am excited to see what he can do.
Also, with the running back room wide open after Williams(if healthy) and Perine he has as good of a shot as the rest of them at making this team. He will be someone I am excited to see and hear about as we move through the offseason and into training camp and preseason.
Do you think UDFA Jaleel McLaughlin makes the Broncos 53-man roster?
This poll is closed