‘Best Back’ In the Draft? Lloyd’s Got to Prove It

The Green Bay Packers used a third-round pick on productive USC running back Marshawn Lloyd.
The Packers drafted USC RB MarShawn Lloyd
The Packers drafted USC RB MarShawn Lloyd / Chet Strange-USA TODAY Sports
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – When the Green Bay Packers selected USC running back MarShawn Lloyd in the third round of the 2024 NFL Draft on Friday night, NFL Network draft expert Daniel Jeremiah proclaimed the Packers had just picked the best back in the draft.

Lloyd wasn’t about to disagree.

“I’m the best running back in the draft, for sure, and I think Green Bay got the best running back in the draft because they think the exact same,” Lloyd said during his Zoom call. “I’m super-confident with that. I think Daniel Jeremiah, that’s going to come up in the next few years, exactly what he says. I definitely do feel like he’s telling the truth on that part.”

For Lloyd to turn words into reality will require him doing his part.

First, he’s got to get a better handle on ball security. He fumbled three times in 2023 and eight times in three seasons.

“We felt they were correctable,” general manager Brian Gutekunst said. “It wasn't an overly big concern for us but, yeah, those are always things that jump out at you that maybe you spend extra time on.”

Of the 17 running backs in our draft rankings, none had hands smaller than Lloyd (8 3/4 inches).

“The analytics studies as far as hand size and fumbles doesn’t really track,” Gutekunst said.

Second, he’s got to show he’s a three-down player. He caught only 13 passes in 2023, though a running back can’t catch what isn’t thrown to him.

“Very comfortable in the passing game,” he said. “I feel like coach Lincoln Riley put me in really good positions. I had something like 17-plus yards a reception. I’m just being utilized in it as much as possible. I played with a team that had really good skills on the outside, a really good quarterback.”

The other part of being a three-down back is holding up in pass protection. He ran hot and cold in that regard – PFF charged him with one sack and three pressures in 32 pass-protecting opportunities. At 220 pounds and with 25 reps on the 225-pound bench press, he’s got the toolbox.

“That’s part of being a running back,” he said. “If you want to play, if you want to stay on the field, you’ve got to be able to pass protect. That’s something that comes with it, especially protecting the guy that’s getting paid the most on the field as the quarterback. I definitely feel like I’m very confident with my pass protection.”

Where there are no doubts about Lloyd is his ability to take the rock and get into the open field either by using speed or power. At 5-foot-8 3/4 and 220 pounds, he’s short but not small. His 4.46 speed in the 40 gives him breakaway ability.

Of 47 running backs with at least 100 rushing attempts, he was eighth with 3.97 yards after contact per carry, according to Pro Football Focus. Per 100 touches, he broke 25 tackles and forced 17 missed tackles, according to Sports Info Solutions. Both figures led the draft class.

“He’s a 220-pound man,” Gutekunst said. “He’s packed in a tighter frame, but like his ability to make people miss, he’s got a little juice to him and, again, he’s 220 pounds, he breaks tackles. We think his best football’s ahead of him.”

Lloyd joins aa crowded and experienced backfield. The Packers signed former All-Pro Josh Jacobs and re-signed veteran AJ Dillon. The team also is high on Emanuel Wilson.

It will be interesting to see if Lloyd can earn a role from the get-go, or if this will be a repeat of 2020, when Dillon as a second-round pick was mostly glued to the bench behind Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams.

If Lloyd really is the best back in the draft, he’ll find his way onto the field.

“It’s just a blessing, honestly,” he said. “I’m super-excited to be here as a Green Bay Packer. Definitely was a wait, but I knew I was going to get picked today. I didn’t know exactly which pick, but I’m just super-happy to be a Green Bay Packer.”

Packers RB Marshawn Lloyd
Packers RB Marshawn Lloyd / Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

2024 NFL Draft

Day 2: Javon Bullard | Edgerrin Cooper

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Day 2: Mock draft | National mocks | Let’s make a deal? | Best draft fits

Our draft grades | National Round 1 grades

First Round: Jordan Morgan | Short arms

Bill Huber


Bill Huber, who has covered the Green Bay Packers since 2008, is the publisher of Packer Central, a Sports Illustrated channel. E-mail: packwriter2002@yahoo.com History: Huber took over Packer Central in August 2019. Twitter: https://twitter.com/BillHuberNFL Background: Huber graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he played on the football team, in 1995. He worked in newspapers in Reedsburg, Wisconsin Dells and Shawano before working at The Green Bay News-Chronicle and Green Bay Press-Gazette from 1998 through 2008. With The News-Chronicle, he won several awards for his commentaries and page design. In 2008, he took over as editor of Packer Report Magazine, which was founded by Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Nitschke, and PackerReport.com. In 2019, he took over the new Sports Illustrated site Packer Central, which he has grown into one of the largest sites in the Sports Illustrated Media Group.