The Raiders signed Chris Warren III after a tryout. While the team appears loaded in the backfield, Warren introduces a new dynamic for the Oakland Raiders. If we know anything about the second incarnation of the Gruden Era, it is that he wants a specific type of player. With Lynch, Martin, Richard, and Washington, where will Warren fit?
With 2351 carries heading into this season, no one knows how long Marshawn Lynch can or wants to play. In 2018, the Raiders view Lynch as the bellcow back that he has been throughout his career. Moving forward, Warren, with a year in the Gruden scheme to apprentice could emerge as the starter in 2019. Alternatively, at least, serve as the primary backup to whoever replaces Lynch going forward. Granted, Gruden prefers veterans. Yet, he also embraces a style that will grind on running backs.
Size and Style
At 6’4” and 245 pounds, Warren represents what Gruden seeks. A big, bruising back that can wear down defenses with sheer brutality. However, Warren possesses surprising quickness and agility for back of his frame. When necessary, Warren either chooses to barrel into a defender or breaks the tackle outright with a jolting stiff arm. In the open field, Warren possesses enough burst to make life difficult for defensive backs. While he may not leave the crowd behind him, Warren possesses the potential to gain chunk yardage
In the passing game, he displays the ability to adjust to passes from different angles, heading upfield. More importantly, Warren uses his frame to block. Instead of dancing or pitty-pattying, he sinks his hips and drives the defender back. In Gruden’s scheme, the willingness to get dirty will serve him well.
When he left Austin, the uniformed chided Warren for not enough production or touches with the Longhorns. Yet, looking at his 227 touches, the Raiders should feel lucky. Many backs enter the league with anywhere between 750-1000 touches. For a position that demands violent contact on just about every play, few college carries could extend Warren’s career.
In reality, Chris Warren III supplanted former draft pick Elijah Hood on the roster. As a result, that bodes well for him. Now, the work begins. He sits on the depth chart behind Lynch, Martin, Washington, and Richard. The Raiders will not keep that many backs. In that case, Warren’s best bet is to emerge victorious in the battle between him, Richard and Washington. On balance, Chris Warren could be that UDFA that the Raiders always find to make a splash on the roster.