Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden made it clear at the NFL Combine that he plans to utilize Marshawn Lynch, although he wants him “better and stronger.” Gruden also made it clear that Lynch needs a true fullback and a blocking tight end to help pave the road ahead. With glaring weaknesses on defense, Raider Nation should expect those needs to be addressed in the early rounds of the upcoming NFL Draft. However, on day three of the draft, Oakland will have the opportunity to find hidden gems to help bolster the offense.

As such, here are some guys that should be around in the later rounds that could provide immediate aid to the Oakland running game.

FULLBACKS

Dimitri Flowers, Oklahoma Sooners 6’2″, 248 pounds

Dimitri Flowers from Oklahoma has been a name brought up as a potential fit with the Raiders as a possible draft day target. Flowers is a great receiver out of the backfield and had a plethora of big plays with the Sooners, including a 49-yard touchdown catch against Oklahoma State. He can also run the ball effectively in short yardage or goal line situations.

2017 Stats: 26 receptions, 464 yards, and 5 receiving touchdowns. He also had four goal-line rushing touchdowns.

Projected to go: Rounds 4-6

Nick Bawden, San Diego State Aztecs 6’2″, 245 pounds

Nick Bawden is a former quarterback that actually started a few games during his freshman season for the Aztecs. Once Bawden was moved to fullback, he flourished and blocked for Donnel Pumphrey (NCAA All-Time Rushing Leader) and Rashaad Penny (rushed over 2,000 yards in 2017).

2017 Stats: 15 receptions, 103 receiving yards, 1 touchdown

Projected to go: Rounds 5-6.

Donnie Ernsberger, Western Michigan Broncos 6’3″, 241 pounds

Donnie Ernsberger scored a memorable touchdown in a game that spanned seven overtime periods against Buffalo in a 71-68 thriller. However, it was his sister who made headlines as she rushed the field to congratulate her brother upon scoring the touchdown. Ernsberger played tight end and H-Back in college but projects more as a Fullback/H-Back in the pros.

2017 Stats:  34 receptions, 394 receiving yards, 4 touchdowns

Projected to go: Round 7 or undrafted rookie free agent

Tight Ends

Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin Badgers 6’5″, 247 pounds

Troy Fumagalli is huge and has one of the few things you can’t coach: height. Fumagalli stands in at 6-foot-5 and mirrors as a vintage tight end. The former Badger was born with Amniotic Banding Syndrome and doctors removed part of his left index finger as a newborn. Despite only having nine full fingers, Fumagalli excelled as a pass-catching option.

2017 Stats:  47 receptions, 580 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns

Projected to go: Rounds 4-5

Will Dissly, Washington Huskies 6’4″, 262 pounds

Will Dissly of the Washington Huskies played his first two seasons as a defensive end before making the switch to tight end. Dissly has an aggressive playing style, showing shades of his former defensive mentality. Dissly will need to develop better pass blocking skills to excel at the next level.

2017 Stats:  21 receptions, 289 receiving yards, 2 Touchdowns

Projected to go: Rounds 6-7

David Wells, San Diego State Aztecs 6’6″, 256 pounds

At the NFL combine, David Wells of San Diego State finished with a strong display of his talents, despite not being regularly mentioned with more heralded players, like Mark Andrews of Oklahoma receiving more media attention. When looking at the numbers put up by Wells, a foot injury plagued his 2017 season, as he only managed 9 receptions, two of which were touchdowns. Wells could be the ideal tight end for a Gruden “Ground-N-Pound” offense, as he doesn’t stretch the field as a receiving threat but shows the ability to get the job done as a blocker.

2017 Stats:  9 Receptions, 133 yards, 2 Touchdowns (2016: 25 Recs, 294 Yards, 4 Tds)

Projected to go: Round 7 or undrafted rookie free agent

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Gabriel D. Martin
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Gabriel D. Martin

Don’t see it happening. Retained Lee Smith, let Olawale go for another Full back, Keith Smith? Lewis? Still have Pharao Brown, the former Packers TE, Walford, I believe, plus the big UNC Tailback that’s a good blocker.