With the NFL draft now behind us, let’s recap what the Las Vegas Raiders have done with regards to the running back position.
Signing former Arizona Cardinal running back Kenyan Drake to a two-year $11 million dollar contract surprised many around the league. However, it didn’t shock those who know head coach Jon Gruden. This investment at running back should come as no surprise. Gruden is notorious for having a soft spot for (and even sometimes, overvaluing) running backs. Heading into the 2021 season, the team should lean heavily on their new duo in the backfield. Here’s a dive into the position group and how it looks ahead of the season.
Let’s recap running back for the Raiders
Former 2018 first-round pick Josh Jacobs has proven he is an established workhorse. Rushing for back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons in his first two years in the league only tells a small part of the impact ’28’ has had on the Raiders’ offense even though his yard-per-carry average noticeably decreased in 2020.
However, injuries across the offensive line played a role in the dip in production. The return of Richie Incognito should benefit Jacobs between the tackles. In fact, the team should also expect a rejuvenated and refreshed number one-running back in 2021. Also, there’s Drake, who should take some pressure off Jacobs’ shoulders.
The Raiders signed Kenyan Drake this offseason following the departure of Devonte Booker. The 2016 third-round pick will look to bring dynamic playmaking home-run hitting ability to the Raiders’ offense. Even though Drake’s signing may look puzzling, this is one of the few times the team used a long-term outlook as opposed to the usual knee-jerk decisions. As it currently stands, Jacob’s rookie contract expires in 2023, the same year as recently signed Drake.
The Raiders are essentially paying two running backs for the price of one. Both of these backs are extremely talented and each brings a unique skill set to the offense. Jacobs, being a powerful downhill runner, will be the perfect complement for Drake’s pass-catching prowess and explosiveness in the open field. Las Vegas should get praise for making this move. After all, there is a relatively small risk when you take into account the vast reward this signing could yield.
Throughout free agency, and especially following the signing of Drake, many have questioned Jalen Richard’s space. Mainly a receiving and third-down running back, his role seems all but taken. Not only has Richard’s role been presumably reduced, but his salary might also be expendable. Releasing him could save the team some valuable cap space. Richard will look to hold onto his roster spot heading into this season and will need to prove his value to a coaching staff that has sent players packing like this in the past.
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