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2024 NFL Draft prospect profile: MarShawn Lloyd, RB, USC

Could Lloyd be a spark for the Giants’ running game?

UCLA v USC Photo by Ryan Kang/Getty Images

The future of the New York Giants running back position is one of the big storylines hanging over the 2024 offseason.

Saquon Barkley has been one of the faces of the franchise since he was drafted with the second overall pick in 2018. The Giants will now have to decide whether to sign Barkley to a long-term contract, use the franchise tag on him again, or to let him test free agency. Should Barkley play elsewhere in 2024, the Giants will need to find a replacement.

USC’s MarShawn Lloyd has been one of the more explosive backs in college football since transferring from South Carolina to USC prior to the 2022 season. He still needs to develop in the passing game, but could add big-play potential on the ground.

Prospect: MarShawn Lloyd (0)
Games Watched: vs. Arizona (2023), vs. Notre Dame (2023), vs. Utah (2023), vs. Oregon (2023)

Measurables

Height: 5-foot-9
Weight: 210 pounds

Strengths

  • Short-area quickness
  • Agility
  • Explosiveness
  • Leverage

Lloyd is a compact and explosively athletic running back. He features an increasingly common body type among runners coming out of college at 5-foot-9, 210 pounds. While he doesn’t have exceptional mass, his frame is dense and features a naturally low center of gravity.

Lloyd was a rotational runner for USC, but was generally productive when he was on the field. He’s a frenetic, high energy runner who’s always moving and possesses great stop-start quickness. He was typically used out of the shotgun, though he was asked to execute runs using a wide variety of blocking schemes.

Lloyd is at his best when able to make a single cut before exploding upfield. He flashes good patience behind the line of scrimmage, pressing his approach to the line of scrimmage into blockers’ backs. Then, once defenders commit, he uses an explosive jump-cut to attack his intended gap. Lloyd also has solid vision and decision making as a runner, able to identify cutback lanes and tends to hit them with little hesitation. He has enough agility to make defenders miss in short areas and his acceleration allows him to exploit quickly flashing running lanes.

Lloyd’s leg length limits his top speed compared to taller runners, but he has impressive stride frequency and hits his top speed very quickly. Likewise, his center of gravity, contact balance, and lower-body strength allows him to shed arm tackles and run through contact. He’s difficult player to tackle and his acceleration allows him to create explosive runs.

Weaknesses

  • Receiving
  • Pass protection

Lloyd is almost a complete unknown in the passing game. Lloyd only has 13 receptions (on 18 targets) this year and was generally only used as a checkdown option. He did flash some soft hands as a receiver, but he wasn’t really asked to run routes out of the backfield. Likewise, he was only very rarely asked to block. For the most part, Lloyd was used in “scat” protection and used as a receiving threat rather than a blocker. He was used as a lead blocker and a chip blocker on a couple plays viewed and was a willing blocker. However, his technique and ability to stand in pass protection is, likewise, almost completely unknown.

Lloyd can also be a victim of his athleticism at times as well. There are instances where he tries to do too much behind the line of scrimmage, trying to find the perfect gap and break a big play instead of taking what the defense gives him. His explosiveness can also work against him, as he occasionally slipped when trying to change directions too suddenly.

Game Tape

Projection

MarShawn Lloyd projects as an important number two running back in an active rotation at the NFL level. He might have the potential to develop into a lead back, but will need to show upside in the passing game to see consistent reps across downs and distances.

Lloyd’s explosiveness and big-play upside will make him difficult to keep off the field, particularly between the 20’s. He can create chunk yardage on the ground if the offense can afford him a bit of room to work, or create hesitation in defenders. His explosiveness could be useful in short-yardage situations as it allows him to hit holes before defenses can react, though he’ll have to commit hard and fast to the blocking scheme.

He has the potential to be a dynamic weapon for a varied offensive attack at the NFL level, but he’ll need to show growth in the passing game to reach his full potential.

Does he fit the Giants?
Yes, though he will need to show development in the passing game to get consistent snaps on offense.

Final Word: An early Day 3 pick with high upside.