The Las Vegas Raiders need an insurance plan for the running back position this offseason. All-Pro running back Josh Jacobs and the team have yet to reach a new contract. Jacobs’ willingness to play under the franchise tag is questionable, and should the team part ways with him, they will need a new back. Zamir White saw limited carries in 2022, and Ameer Abdullah is also set to become an unrestricted free agent. Tulane’s Tyjae Spears can offer many options for the team moving forward.
Tyjae Spears’ Background
Spears hails from Ponchatoula, Louisiana. As a graduate of Ponchatoula High School, Tyjae scored 18 touchdowns in his senior season. As a result, he was rated as a three-star athlete before becoming a Green Wave. While at Tulane, he appeared in 33 games over four seasons. Moreover, as a ball carrier, he averaged an impressive 7.0 yards per carry. He scored 19 rushing touchdowns in his senior season and 2 receiving touchdowns. However, he saved his best for last in the team’s 2022 Bowl game against USC, where he had a career day.
Tyjae Spears in the Cotton Bowl vs USC:
ðŸŒŠ 17 Carries
ðŸŒŠ 205 Yards
ðŸŒŠ 4 Touchdowns pic.twitter.com/9g4WMqYP0d
— PFF College (@PFF_College) January 2, 2023
So, what makes the 5-foot-11, 200-pound back special?
Tyjae Spears is an Explosive Runner
Regarding explosive threats out of the backfield, Tyjae Spears is among the best prospects.
Tulane RB Tyjae Spearsâ€™ explosion has been dropping jaws at the #SeniorBowl.
Hereâ€™s one of my favorite runs from his CFB career.
Heâ€™s unfair in the open field â€” cuts are so sudden, and his decisions are so resolute at high speedsâ€¦ a natural.
— Thor Nystrom (@thorku) February 1, 2023
Spears runs patiently to allow his blockers to set up his blocks while showcasing good contact balance. Then, the Louisiana native hits the whole with authority. A man of ‘smaller’ stature can sometimes get lost in the scrum. However, he consistently displays above-average athletic ability to enter the open field after utilizing great vision to find the correct lane.
Itâ€™s not always the big splash plays that tell you about a player. Sometimes itâ€™s the little ones. Like Tyjae Spears seeing a flash of color, making a dude miss in the hole, & getting 7 yards on a run that was blocked for 1 or 2
— Anthony Cover 1 (@Pro__Ant) February 17, 2023
But what separates the Tulane product from other runners is his competitive toughness and receiving ability.
Spears Has Yet to Hit His Full Potential
With Tulane being a smaller program, Tyjae Spears was sometimes handcuffed due to a blended gap/zone running scheme. In addition, he only accounted for 46 total receptions in four years at Tulane. To clarify, he wasn’t a target in the passing game, although he is more than capable of being a difference-maker as a receiver.
— PFF College (@PFF_College) February 2, 2023
In addition to not being utilized as a receiver, the Green Waves star also was recovering from a torn ACL injury in 2020. While he was unaffected by it in his senior season, his numbers in previous seasons are not up to par with how talented a running back he can be. That said, he should have immense success at the NFL level.
Spears and Jacobs Could be a Great NFL Duo
Las Vegas Raiders’ running back Josh Jacobs is one of the NFL’s best. But, over the years, he has played through his fair share of injuries, and with a potential rookie quarterback starting next season – the Raiders will rely on the rushing attack more. So, for the team to add a player like Tyjae Spears would not only help keep Jacobs fresh, but it would add a home run threat out of the backfield that the organization has lacked for years.
Tyjae Spears 5095 204lbs
Aaron Jones 5094 208lbs
Diverse Schemes – Mix Gap/Power
'Make You Miss' in Hole
Open Field Balance/Burst
Perimeter Juice to Edge
Pass Game – Get in Space++
Runs of 20+yds final season: Aaron Jones 20, Tyjae Spears 19 pic.twitter.com/jUO12wT0E0
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) February 10, 2023
In conclusion, the 21-year-old Tulane standout would be a wise selection for the Silver and Black in the mid-rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft.
*Top Photo: Tulane University Athletic Department