Raiders

NFL Draft: Did Raiders Draft Josh Jacobs’ Replacement?

On the third day of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Las Vegas Raiders selected Georgia running back Zamir White. It’s not out of the question to think that the Raiders drafted Josh Jacobs’ long-term replacement.

The Raiders had plenty of depth at running back going into the draft, with star Josh Jacobs leading the pack, followed by Kenyan Drake, Ameer Abdullah, and Brandon Bolden. General manager Dave Ziegler decided that still was not enough and in the fourth round, at pick number 122, he elected to draft White.

It can’t be ignored that one day prior to Day 3 of the draft, Ziegler also announced that the Raiders would not be signing any of the first-round picks from the 2019 class to their fifth-year option, and that included not only Clelin Ferrell and Johnathan Abram, but also Jacobs.

Will Jacobs be with the Raiders beyond 2022?

Jacobs burst onto the scene in 2019 and was declared the only successful pick out of the three selected in the first round. Jacobs rushed for over 1,000 yards in his first two seasons in the league, but in 2021 he sustained several injuries and yielded 872 rushing yards with nine touchdowns. While Jacobs was playing behind the weakest offensive line, he had been paired with in 2021, there were noticeable statistical drops for Jacobs. Most notably, he was ranked 36th among running backs with a rushing average of 4.0 yards per carry. 

Fans were already skeptical of Jacobs’ future as the current trend within the league is not to “pay” (signing to long-term extensions) running backs due to their above average injury occurrence and an elevated drop in production quicker than most other skill positions. The fact that the Raiders declined his fifth-year option only adds to the skepticism. Even fans from rival AFC West teams believe a change is coming.

Who is Zamir White?

In similarity to Jacobs, White was not consistently the starting running back on his college team; in White’s case, it was the National Champion Georgia Bulldogs. Last season, White split time with fellow running back James Cook (yes, Dalvin Cook’s brother), who saw more action as a receiving back, while White was the lead rusher with 856 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns while playing in all 15 games, starting in 12. Additionally, White was a captain for the Bulldogs and also led the team in rushing yards in 2020. The success did not come without some disappointment, as White tore his ACL not once, but twice in 2017 and 2018.

How does White compare to Jacobs?

White, whose nickname is “Zeus” based on his athletic prowess, is a speedy option who stands a few inches taller than Jacobs at six feet and weighs in at 214 lbs. He has excellent vision, sheds tacklers and clearly generates power in his running style. White may not be as creative a runner as Jacobs, who excels in space, but we should still expect to see head coach Josh McDaniels involve White in the offense more. If there is one thing we know about the New England Patriots’ offense, it’s that they definitely enjoy a running back “by committee” mentality, and McDaniels is sure to incorporate that trend into the Raiders’ offense.

After this selection in the draft, Jacobs fans may be cheering for the running back in a different colored uniform in 2023, depending on how this season and future negotiations transpire. However, all Raiders fans should be excited to see a new electrifying offensive weapon, named after a Greek God, no less, take the field at Allegiant Stadium in September.

*Top Photo: Butch Dill/Associated Press

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