2024 CAA Football

2024 NFL Draft Profile: Blink And You'll Miss Monmouth RB Jaden Shirden

2024 NFL Draft Profile: Blink And You'll Miss Monmouth RB Jaden Shirden

The nation's two-time leading rusher, Monmouth running back Jaden Shirden, can explode his way into the 2024 NFL draft.

Mar 13, 2024 by Kyle Kensing

Give Jaden Shirden even the slightest space to get moving, and the running back is likely gone. 

The Coastal Athletic Association came to know that well during Shirden's 2022 and 2023 campaigns at Monmouth, where he twice led the nation in rushing yards. He garnered All-American recognition in both season and a spot among the top three finalists invited to the Walter Payton Award presentation. 

Now, as he readies for the 2024 NFL draft, Jaden Shirden shows off the speed and elusiveness that separated him as the best running in the Football Championship Subdivision for two years straight to a new audience. 

Shirden was one of 15 FCS players chosen for the NFL draft combine, and established him as a top running back in short order regardless of subdivision. 

"It could be top five in [the 40-yard] and having the fastest 10 yards split," Shirden told FloFootball.com of the combine drills he was most pleased with his performance. "That's just great for me and brought my draft stock up." 

Performing alongside prospects out of so-called power-conference programs, Shirden demonstrated the qualities that produced almost 3,700 yards rushing in the previous three seasons at Monmouth — 2,200 of which came in his 2022 and 2023 All-American campaigns. 

Those are qualities translate at any level, and Shirden capitalized on his opportunity to prove it. 

"So much fun," he said of the process. "It was a lot, but I just took everything, being on the same [stage] as big time players...and really just being myself and just doing everything at my best." 

Few do speed at their best like Shirden. Breakaway ability became Shirden's calling card with a bevy of long-yardage touchdown carries in his Monmouth tenure. 


It wasn't just the other combine participants in the presence of whom Shirden showed out, either. Another former college All-American who graduated to a lengthy NFL career that included an Offensive Rookie of the Year and three Pro Bowl appearances chatted up Shirden during the combine. 

"I got a chance to meet Warrick Dunn," Shirden said. "And he showed me a lot of love."

Dunn, a legend at Florida State, spent more than a decade in the NFL. As it happens, Monmouth color commentator and NFL draft analyst Emory Hunt drew the parallel between Shirden's style and Dunn's during the former's time as a Hawk.

 Both the physical frame and the running style make for an uncanny comparison. Dunn excelled at seeing, cutting to, then exploding through the most narrow of gaps to turn carries seemingly destined for a stop at the line of scrimmage into long gains. 

What's more, Dunn's usage and longevity defied expectations for a back of his size. What conventional football wisdom deemed a question about prospective durability became an asset for Dunn, who leveraged his size to exploit holes. 

Shirden similarly bucked trends for a back of his size, producing in as much of a workhorse role for the Hawks as he did in the home-run hitter capacity. 

Whether operating as an every-down back, or as a Darren Sproles-style change-of-pace whose speed can be used to catch defenses off-guard and deliver a haymaker in one carry, Shirden's pro potential can meet the names of any number of NFL organizations. 

The West Haven, Connecticut native Shirden said he is utilizing the weeks leading up to the draft to have some downtime at home, but that hardly means a break from his workout regimen of weights, running and flexibility training. He'll also have more opportunities to show off his speed — and the rest of his dynamic skill set — in such settings as a New York Giants pro day. 

"I used to always fantasize and just dream about getting drafted. It's almost here, so basically, I have been living a dream," Shirden said of the process. 

It's a dream that won't be ending any time soon. As Shirden showed every time he turned an inch into a 70-yard touchdown, he's built to make the most of the smallest sliver of daylight. .