Undrafted rookie running back Jaleel McLaughlin has been turning heads all offseason and that has continued throughout camp and during the preseason opener. His speed and explosive ability have stood out and the under-sized but explosive back is making a strong case to be on the Denver Broncos' week one 53-man roster.
Recently, Broncos head coach Sean Payton added some more fuel to the fire when he compared McLaughlin’s play style to Reggie Bush, Darren Sproles, and Alvin Kamara.
When asked about Jaleel McLaughlin's play style, Sean Payton mentioned Reggie Bush, Darren Sproles, Alvin Kamara, then said:— Zac Stevens (@ZacStevensDNVR) August 18, 2023
“You could call it a ‘change-of-pace’ type player. Certainly McLaughlin is one of those candidates, where he’s a different style runner."
Payton told reporters that McLaughlin is a change-of-pace type of back and is a candidate to be a different-style runner like Reggie Bush, Darren Sproles, and Alvin Kamara who he has had on his teams in the past.
“Historically, I’ve been fortunate to have been—people say I run a dual-back system. I just think there’s a lot of attrition on a runner in our league. Over the years, we’ve had kind of a joker player in Reggie Bush and Darren Sproles and Alvin Kamara. Those guys are running backs, and yet they do some other things in the passing game that gives them that tag. You could call it a ‘change-of-pace’ type player. Certainly Jaleel McLaughlin is one of those candidates, where he’s a different style runner.
While Payton does not directly compare McLaughlin to these three talented backs, he still brought them up in the same breath as him, which is noteworthy. He does possess a skill set that the other Broncos backs do not have and would give the offense a change of pace back who can contribute as a runner or receiver. Payton has routinely had a back like this in his offenses, whether that be Reggie Bush, Darren Sproles, or Alvin Kamara, and could view McLaughlin as that sort of player.
As I said, McLaughlin has flashed throughout the offseason, training camp, and during the preseason opener where he showcased his speed and scored a touchdown. Despite his smaller size, he is a physical runner who plays bigger than he is and is able to skinny between linemen and explode into the second and third levels of the defense. If he can stay healthy during these final two weeks of practices and preseason games, I think he has a good shot at making the team and having a role on offense for the Broncos.