When Kenyan Drake was signed by the Las Vegas Raiders last year, the deal was met with some skepticism. Those that liked it pictured a perfect running back duo between him and Josh Jacobs, while a great many people saw it as an overpay. Well, after just one year, Drake’s tenure with the Raiders came to an end. So, with Drake no longer competing for snaps, the Raiders’ running back room is taking shape. After several impressive performances by the group during the preseason, let’s look at a possible preview heading into Week 1 of the regular season.
Josh Jacobs will remain the lead back for the Raiders
After having a bit of a down year last year in which he averaged four yards a carry, Josh Jacobs still managed to manage 1,220 scrimmage yards. Unfortunately, he had his fifth-year option declined earlier this offseason.
Even after being the Raiders’ lead back since he was drafted in 2018, it felt as though Jacobs’ spot on the roster wasn’t secure. More eyebrows were raised after the first preseason game when he suited up and played early on. Naturally, speculation began to creep in. When he was asked about the possibility of moving Jacobs, McDaniels emphatically shot down any rumors of such a move.
It was thought that if Jacobs and Drake made the team, Drake would be the receiving and change of pace option for Jacobs. However, it appears that with Drake out of the picture, there will be more snaps to go around for the group as a whole. A true running back committee that McDaniels prefers. There are viable receiving options remaining on the roster in the form of Ameer Abdullah and Brandon Bolden. As a side note, neither has eclipsed 500 career rushing attempts.
So, what does this mean for Jacobs? There isn’t a true change-of-pace-back on the roster. Rookie Zamir White may spell the end for Jacobs after this season. However, despite a possible dip in snaps for Jacobs, he should still have plenty of opportunities to showcase himself before he hits free agency next offseason.
Ameer Abdullah and Brandon Bolden are receiving an opportunity
As alluded to when discussing Jacobs, Drake’s being cut signifies a need for a pass-catching back. In turn, this opens the door for either Abdullah or Bolden to lock down the role of receiving back. Bolden has experience with McDaniels from their days in New England, while Abdullah was a free agent pickup in March. The latter is making a real push to be part of a trio or quartet of running backs.
Abdullah played in the first preseason game in which he caught two passes for 23 yards and had two rushing attempts for seven yards. As for Bolden, he hasn’t played in a preseason game. Having these two, and having them perform well in camp as well, allowed the Raiders to cut ties with Kenyan Drake.
Which rookie makes the final cut?
The changes to the running back room may not directly affect rookies Zamir White and Brittain Brown in terms of their role. Nevertheless, with Drake gone, that means one thing: there’s a possible roster spot for one of these two.
Both rookies have seen action in all four preseason games this year. Brown led in yards, attempts, and catches in every game except the Hall of Fame Game. During which, White ran 11 times for 52 yards, with three catches for 23 yards.
While Brown has had more opportunities resulting in more production, it appears as though White will make the final roster. Brown, meanwhile, will be assigned to the practice squad. Don’t rule out Jacobs being traded. While it seems as though he’s primed to be the lead back, crazier things have happened.
*Top Photo: NBC Sports/Bay Area