In an offseason in which the Oakland Raiders started to solididy their position groups, running backs remain uncertain. The finalized depth chart of Raiders’ running backs appears unpredictable.
The lack of communication is haunting. The Raiders’ two best backs, Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin, have not confirmed their future. Lynch is eyeing retirement and Martin is an unrestricted free agent.
Oakland also signed Isaiah Crowell, which could be a prepping for disaster move, as most teams do not need three “big” backs like Lynch, Martin, and Crowell.
The Raiders expressed desire for both Lynch and Martin to rejoin the team. However, until anything is official, fans must play the waiting game. The team started exploring potential replacements, if placed in that situation. One potential replacement could be the Raiders’ very own Chris Warren.
Fans may forget that Warren is still on the team. Warren starred in the preseason before undergoing restorative knee surgery and being placed on the IR.
So, why should the fans put faith in an undrafted player that sat out the entire 2018 season? Warren showed promise and potential in the preseason. Nevertheless, if vague outlook is not enough, Warren led the league with 292 preseason rushing yards. Writers for the University of Texas and the Raiders alike noted that Warren significantly improved many of the pieces of his game that may have been holding him back.
Jon Gruden might have said it best when asked about Warren after the week 2 preseason game, “He’s a good back, isn’t he? I mean, he’s run for almost 200 yards in two weeks. And I know he’s not playing against the regulars but he’s not playing with the regulars either. He’s a big powerful back that’s taking care of the ball. He’s got to get better without the football — that’s what it’s all about with him. We know he can run, we know he’s powerful and fast and elusive, but he’s got to get a lot better without the football to be an NFL back.”
In this case, getting a lot better without the football means working on play-actions and picking up hidden or delayed blitzes. Fans can look a little deeper in to this quote and find a few hidden tidbits. Obviously, Warren has attributes he needs to improve, but Gruden appears enamored with Warren’s physical ability.
Speaking of physical abilities, Chris Warren has reported that in his offseason, he has raised his weight up to 270 pounds. For reference, Jerome Bettis was 252 pounds at his peak and Marshawn Lynch sits around 215. This could be due to trying to stay off his feet to help his knee recover, it could be him missing a full year of football for the first time in many years, or it could all be muscle. Regardless of how Warren put on the weight, most players lose about 15 pounds in training camp. So if the averages hold true, and Warren wants to, Warren should be falling back down to Bettis’ weight, which is still massively intimidating.
Regardless of weight or roster spot, Warren’s size and strength allow him to hold a roster spot at least as a short-yardage back. Coincidentally, Warren did play some tight end in college and the Raiders did just lose Jared Cook. Warren is three inches shorter than Cook but would have 30 pounds on him if he manages to stay up at 270.