Raiders Josh Jacobs

Las Vegas Raiders 2023 Positional Breakdowns: Running Backs

Heading into the 2023 NFL season, the Las Vegas Raiders’ roster is full of talent. The team’s receiving room is deep, the offensive line has continuity, and the quarterback unit houses four players. But what about the most important position next to the quarterback; the position played by Josh Jacobs?

A deep-dive into the Las Vegas Raiders’ running back room

The seasoned vets

At first glance, running back is a position where the Raiders are set. Josh Jacobs, the 2022 rushing champ and yards from scrimmage leader, remains “him.” Jacobs is the engine that has driven the Raiders offense whenever there has been consistent promise. A leader both inside the locker room and on the field, the 25-year-old is one of the few diamonds in the Raiders’ possession.

Jacobs handled the football 340 times for the Raiders in 2022; he also played in all 17 games, nearly breaking Marcus Allen’s rushing record. A power-rushing attack is vital to the play-action pass, and without it, the offense is toast.

Ameer Abdullah, 5’9″, 203 lbs.

When Abdullah is on the field, he is doing some dirty work. He’s kind of like the new Jalen Richard – more of a third-down back capable of blocking and receiving, along with some clutch special teams play. As a veteran, he provides a steady presence.

Brandon Bolden, 5’11”, 220 lbs.

The elder-statesman of the running back room, Bolden will be 33 at the start of the 2023 campaign. Last season, in 16 games, the 10-year veteran produced 66 rushing yards on 17 carries, 57 receiving yards on nine receptions, and one receiving touchdown.

Bolden has already been involved in head coach Josh McDaniels’ offensive scheme for nine years, and this will be his 10th. Josh Jacobs’ phenomenal season kept the ball out of his hands, but he still managed to average 3.9 yards per carry.

Jacobs may have led the league in rushing yardage last year, but the Raiders’ second and third leading rushers were quarterbacks Derek Carr and Jarrett Stidham; a chilling indication about the need for younger legs. Las Vegas is in an interesting position, and while many expect – or hope – the team opts to reward Jacobs with a contract extension, they may need to find a suitable backup or replacement.

The young and the starving (1/2)

Brittain Brown, 6’1″, 205 lbs.

Brown built up steam in the preseason, finishing with 98 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries over the last two games. Brown led the preseason rushing attack with 34 carries, 152 yards, and two touchdowns. Ultimately, he would make the team and see some action on special teams, but no carries. Should he be in the mix to take a veteran’s spot? If he is ready, the Raiders certainly need his contributions.

Sincere McCormick, 5’9″, 205 lbs.

Despite having a solid Combine, McCormick went undrafted in the 2022 NFL Draft. McCormick agreed to terms with Las Vegas after the draft, but spent his rookie season on the injured reserves list. Unfortunately, the 22-year-old didn’t get an opportunity to showcase his abilities.

The former University of Texas San Antonio Roadrunner is a beast in the gun, pistol, single, and I-back formations. McCormick is built in the style of Emmitt Smith, and he runs just like him. He follows his blockers, gets lost behind linemen, finds a seam, hits the hole, and turns on the jets.

A natural tackle-breaker blessed with a lower center of gravity, McCormick has all the ability to thrive in this league. But, he’s got to be able to prove it in camp.

The young and the starving (2/2)

Zamir White, 6’0″, 215 lbs.

White possesses nearly every trait you could ask for in a running back; great size, high-end speed, and power. The Georgia alum has got to make himself more of a factor in 2023. As a rookie, he amassed 70 rushing yards on 17 carries, with a season-long rush of 22 yards. Altogether, White averaged 4.1 yards per carry.

Coach McDaniels would do White a solid if he called more gap runs for him, and instead of single-backing, have him follow Jakob Johnson into the hole. Or maybe White adjusted to the speed of the NFL a little quicker, and his vision is sharper than last season indicated. Either way, both the Raiders and White need to get a healthy amount of growth from the second-year back this upcoming season.

Austin Walter, 5’8″, 190 lbs.

Walter started off the preseason making a little bit of noise, scoring a touchdown in the Hall of Fame game. He finished the preseason with 104 rushing yards on 23 carries, in addition to the Week 1 touchdown. Although his carries dwindled down the stretch in the preseason, he has a skillset that can be advantageous to a committee.

Final assessment for the Raiders’ running back room

Bolden and Abdullah have roles that can be replaced with younger and more cost-effective players already on the roster. The Raiders need this to be the case, as the lack of statistical contributions from these two dictates a need for it.

There is a suitable amount of talent waiting in the wings if the team’s running backs play to their abilities. Let’s be honest – being out-rushed by both Carr and Carr’s backup should sting their pride. There needs to be a one-two punch with a solid third-down option who can do more than stay in to block for the quarterback.

If Josh Jacobs is extended, the Raiders will have a highly productive veteran leader in the running back room. The Silver and Black need the young guns to step up and force their way onto the field.

*Top Photo: Caean Couto/AP

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