With a thin running back room, Denver Broncos undrafted free agent Jaleel McLaughlin has a chance to make some noise this summer.
McLaughlin, though small in stature, has several traits that can make him a productive professional player. Though he went undrafted, he was on the draft board of many analysts with as high as a sixth-round grade.
Name: Jaleel McLaughlin
Weight: 187 pounds
School: Youngstown State
Position: Running Back
The Broncos needed more running back depth entering this offseason and it has been a curious approach to how they have filled those holes. Free-agent signing Samaje Perine has a thumb injury and though that's minor, it's an early ding when camp hasn't even opened yet.
Behind starter Javonte Williams and Perine, the only other running backs on the roster aside from McLaughlin are Tony Jones and Tyler Badie. There is absolutely room for a player to step up in this group.
The Broncos have already trimmed this position quite a bit this offseason, parting ways with Tyreik McAllister, Jacques Patrick and Damarea Crockett. Many speculated that would open the door for Dalvin Cook, but that doesn't seem likely.
McLaughlin wasn't drafted and the main reason why can't be chalked up to his size. Most teams are going to immediately remove a 5-foot-7 player from their board no matter what.
He began his college career at Notre Dame College in Ohio and he became the first player at any level of NCAA football to rush for 2,000 yards in his first two seasons. He then transferred to Youngstown State in 2020 and performed well there as well, rushing for over 1,800 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Chances to make final roster (1-10 scale): 5
Because there are only five running backs on the roster, McLaughlin has at least a 50/50 chance to be a surprise to make the team this year. Williams and Perine are going to make it and after that it's a wide-open race.
McLaughlin is a slashing runner with great speed and he can be a matchup nightmare in the passing game, something Sean Payton has coveted over the years and he made an even smaller player, Darren Sproles, one of the best receiving running backs the game has seen.
Badie and Jones both have a great shot of making the team but McLaughlin can't be scoffed at due to his undrafted status or his size. He is going to be one of the most exciting players to watch this summer on the entire 90-man roster and it should surprise no one if he makes this team.
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At absolute worst, he will likely make the team's practice squad and get a chance to contribute down the line this year. Payton will find a way to use this kid, even if it's not extensively this season.