When the Las Vegas Raiders selected Zamir White in the fourth round, it was surprising to many analysts. After all, the Raiders already had a great running back duo with Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake. In addition, they also signed fellow running backs Brandon Bolden and Ameer Abdullah. However, this may have been a pick with the future in mind.
Zamir White’s college career
A former five-star recruit out of high school, White was expected to be a big part of Georgia’s running back room right away. However, instead of forming a dynamic duo with D’Andre Swift, White tore his ACL in 2018.
As a freshman in 2019, he contributed 408 yards and three touchdowns in 12 games for the Bulldogs. Going forward, his workload will continue to increase. In 2020, he had 144 carries for 779 yards and six touchdowns. In 2021, he again improved to the tune of 856 yards and nine touchdowns.
Eventually, he and the Bulldogs would win the National Championship in 2021. In that game, he had thirteen carries for 84 yards and a touchdown to help defeat the Alabama Crimson Tide. With many projecting a day three selection for White, the Raiders eventually proved them correct by taking him in the fourth round.
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) April 30, 2022
How does White fit the Raiders?
As mentioned, many raised an eyebrow at the Raiders’ selection of White. However, prior to the 2022 NFL Draft, the Raiders declined the fifth-year option on all three of their 2019 first-round picks. That included running back Josh Jacobs. While Jacobs has been quite productive for Las Vegas, the new regime appears to understand the risk associated with giving running backs big money.
White does not have a clear path to playing time in his rookie campaign. That is mostly due to the fact that he is a non-factor in the passing game. With a total of 17 catches over his collegiate career, his experience in this aspect is limited. He is a physical runner, however, who will be valuable between the tackles.
Unless there’s an injury to Josh Jacobs in 2022, don’t expect White to be featured heavily. With Jacobs and Drake sure to be leading the way for at least one more year, it will be hard for them to see the field. If the Raiders do allow Jacobs to leave in free agency in 2023, the backfield could very well become White’s to lose. In fact, Drake’s contract is up after this season as well.
As mentioned, this was a pick made with the future in mind. If the Raiders got their future starting running back in the fourth round and avoided paying Jacobs big money, the Raiders would have gotten a steal in the 2022 NFL Draft.
*Top Photo: Butch Dill/Associated Press