The Las Vegas Raiders have a cornerstone player in place with Josh Jacobs at the helm. However, it is critical they reinforce their running game.
The Raiders could draft another running back in April, but with so many holes on defense, this might not be the best route. It’s unlikely they spend big money on the likes of Derrick Henry or Melvin Gordon III, all the same, Jacobs needs an adequate backup. If the organization does move on from Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington, free agency will provide some good options.
Moe Moton of Bleacher Report recently wrote about a scenario in which the Raiders pick Zack Moss in the third round. While this would certainly bolster the backfield, Las Vegas would probably be better off going defense with a player like Malik Harrison or Jaylon Johnson. They need to protect their investment in Jacobs and what better way to do it than taking off some of the load with one of these prospects.
Howard would be a great fit behind Jacobs. While there are still injury concerns regarding the Pro Bowler, he could come relatively cheap. The upside is that he’s shown what he can do as he started his career with back-to-back 1,100+ rushing yard seasons. Off of 119 carries, Howard totaled 525 rushing yards and ended the season with a Pro Football Focus grade of 69.0 for the year. Most will not be crazy about this idea but there’s a lot of upside here potentially.
Montgomery is a dual-threat contributor who could not only help Jacobs but quarterback Derek Carr as well. The former Packers and Jets running back had arguably his best seasons in 2016 and 2017 when he was used as a combo weapon in Mike McCarthy’s offense. Before folks start saying he’s washed up, let’s remember he’s only 27 years old and has had only 224 rushing attempts. As a receiving weapon, he would also be useful in passing situations, and would be cheap too.
Another running back who’s a capable receiving threat, Drake could also prove to have high upside in spite of possibly demanding more money. The 25-year-old had his best year as a pro last season while splitting time with the Arizona Cardinals and Miami Dolphins. Pro Football Focus graded him an impressive 71.2, his final stat line was also solid, 826 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns. His rushing average of 4.8 yards per carry was noteworthy as it was identical to Jacobs’ average last season. Drake is the least likely of these players to be signed but make no mistake, he’d be the best. If you want a proven commodity you have cough up the money.
Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington
The case could also be made for a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” scenario when it comes to the Raiders running game. It’s pretty much a fact neither Richard nor Washington are featured backs, yet, they’ve proven to be solid complementarity pieces in Gruden’s offense when called upon. There’s a likelihood general manager Mike Mayock brings back both or one of them and then use a late round pick on a running back, which would make sense. For now, Raider Nation will have to wait till free agency to see which route Las Vegas brass goes.
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