The Las Vegas Raiders’ running back room has a major upcoming challenge. The problem isn’t a bad one, actually, quite the contrary.
There’s almost too much depth at the position, making the upcoming and previous cuts extremely difficult. There’s talent top to bottom in Jon Gruden’s backfield. The first two spots are solidified (obviously), and fullback Alec Ingold has another “running back” spot, but the next one (possibly two) is harder to predict.
3rd place isn’t all bad…
At least, in this case, the third spot can still be a major contributor. Jalen Richard has had the position locked down, more or less, since he arrived in 2016. But inconsistencies, injuries, fumbles, and now (possibly) refusing a vaccine could put him on the unemployment line.
Trey Ragas completely showed out in Week 1 of the preseason. His final stat line had him at 82 yards on 16 touches, a touchdown, and was solid in blitz pickup. He’s healthy and younger which could help solidify him as the third option.
BJ Emmons, though, could have something to say about that. The 5-foot-11, 215-pound back put on a clinic as well and showed some explosion on a 22-yard run in the second quarter. In addition, both Ragas and Emmons are cheaper than Richard. However, Richard has more experience in the system, is a huge asset in blitz pick up, and is solid at catching the rock. There really are no bad options here, but that’s the challenge.
Ragas vs Emmons
The two undrafted free agents appear to have a chip on their shoulder. Their first NFL action was impressive, to say the least, but that last spot is going to be a dog fight. They’re both incredibly similar in size and running style. Both could be valuable options on third down and can handle a situation where Josh Jacobs or Kenyan Drake go down. It seems that Ragas has caught Gruden’s eye a little more than Emmons, though. Ragas had more carries against Seattle and has been a major talking point around Raider Nation.
Fans should be excited about the problems that the Raiders have this offseason. They’re going to have to release solid players. Other teams are going to swarm the guys that were told to pack their bags. The running back room is no exception. If I had to guess, Ragas is going to take that final spot from Richard, and another piece of the pre-Gruden era will be given the boot.
The two-headed monster of Drake and Josh is going to be a nightmare to handle, and Ragas being able to give them a breather, could be deadly for defenses. Gruden wants the strength of the Raiders to be the running game. There’s no doubt he will have that this season. As far as today’s matchup with the Los Angeles Rams, both Ragas and Emmons will have ample opportunity to further their cases.
*Top Photo: Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal