Chiefs Hint at Open Battle for Running Back No. 3 Spot in 2024

After leaving the running back position untouched in the draft but bringing in some UDFAs, the Chiefs are confident in the group they have.
October 15, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back Keaontay Ingram (30) before the game against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
October 15, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back Keaontay Ingram (30) before the game against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports / Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
In this story:

In the past couple of seasons, the Kansas City Chiefs have established a pretty consistent running back trio of Isiah Pacheco, Jerick McKinnon and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. While Edwards-Helaire is back to complement Pacheco for another season, McKinnon remains a free agent.

General manager Brett Veach promptly addressed pretty much all of Kansas City's needs in the 2024 NFL Draft... except running back.

The club hasn't expressed too much interest in acquiring any other veteran talent at the position. J.K. Dobbins came to town for a visit, although he left without signing a deal and is now with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Is that an issue? How big of a need is running back actually perceived as to the team? Speaking to the media on Monday, Veach gave his current collective a vote of confidence. In addition to praising undrafted free agent pickups, he made it a point to mention 2023 in-season signing Keaontay Ingram.

“Keaontay Ingram is a guy we like too, we got him late last year and it’s hard when guys come in into the middle of the season," Veach said. "We added him to our practice squad late, but I think we were a fan of his when he was at USC. I think that’s going to be one of those positions just like the left tackle, starting position, just like the tail end positions at corner, that running back position will be a battle. Usually, it comes down to special teams and pass protector as a No. 3 here, so I think all these guys have traits we like and now it’s just a matter of a couple of those guys putting together a solid training camp.

"That’s from the mental side of things and from a special teams side of things. I do think, though, we have some guys that all have ability and now it’s just a matter of those guys going out there and earning a position. From a talent perspective, as you mentioned with (Emani) Bailey and (Carson) Steele we brought in and then last year, (Deneric) Prince and Keaontay Ingram, all of those guys have talent and ability to play in this league. Now, it’s just a matter of who can put together a solid training camp and earn the position.”

Starting at the top of the field Veach referenced, the Ingram point is valid. When he originally signed, he was coming off an eight-game stint with the Arizona Cardinals in which he averaged 2.1 yards per carry. On the other hand, he's just a few years removed from a stellar final college season and some impressive overall athletic testing. He's just 24 years old and this is the best situation he'll have been in as a pro.

Prince, one of last year's prizes from the UDFA market, is entering a pivotal season. After rushing for 79 yards and a touchdown during his first preseason, he played in just two regular-season contests. He's also a good athlete and possesses a size-speed combo Kansas City doesn't currently have elsewhere. La'Mical Perine is also worth mentioning here, as he was good last preseason and had 25 touches in three games during the year.

Last, but not necessarily least, are Bailey and Steele. The former struggled with testing during the pre-draft process but recorded 1,393 all-purpose yards and nine touchdowns as a senior at TCU. He offers intriguing receiving upside. Steele ran a 4.75-second 40-yard dash but has elite size and never had a college campaign with fewer than 1,000 yards from scrimmage.

Are any of the aforementioned players the right fit as RB3 in Kansas City? That remains to be seen. On the surface, this seemingly open competition is an instance of the organization throwing numbers at a position and waiting for one player to rise to the top. OTAs, mandatory minicamp and training camp should reveal who the premier talent from this group is.

It's now the Chiefs' job to figure out which piece will support Pacheco and Edwards-Helaire in 2024-25.

Read More: Chiefs 'Feel Good' About Testing Rookies Versus Signing Familiar Faces

Jordan Foote


Jordan Foote is the deputy editor of Arrowhead Report on, covering the Kansas City Chiefs. He also hosts the One Royal Way podcast on Kansas City Sports Network. Jordan is a Baker University alumnus, earning his degree in Mass Media. Follow him on X @footenoted.