When the Raiders enter training camp later this month, the team will look different in the backfield. While Derek Carr remains the constant, his running back depth chart will appear very different. Rookie Josh Jacobs will look to secure the lead spot. With that said, how does the rest of the AFC West stack up at the running back position? FPC Raiders writers Ray Aspuria and Pete Camarillo discussed their rankings.
Melvin Gordon (Chargers)
Phillip Lindsay (Broncos)
Josh Jacobs (Raiders)
Damian Williams (Chiefs)
Gordon is the Bolts’ workhorse back. That isn’t going to change as Los Angeles’ offense schemes to suck in the defense and throw it over the top with Philip Rivers. Lindsay enjoyed a strong rookie year last season after going undrafted. However, his wrist is a concern after it was wrecked by a hit from Raiders safety Erik Harris.
Jacobs comes in third as Gruden mentions the reliance on the run game with quarterback Derek Carr being a huge benefactor of a consistent ground attack. Jacobs wasn’t run into the ground at Alabama. In addition, has every-down skills in his toolbox. Back in 2005, Gruden did wonders with rookie Cadillac Williams.
Williams rounds out the West, but don’t be surprised if his production spikes in the Chiefs attack-from-anywhere offense.
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Let’s start with the Raiders in last place. I know they added the Draft’s top back in the first round, but if he is already splitting time with Doug Martin, Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington I’m not too hopeful for his immediate impact. I’m more worried he has a Rashaad Penny year with some flashes but never seizing the job.
After that, the Chargers, Broncos, and Chiefs always field great backs regardless of draft status. The Broncos and Chiefs both have the backfield by committee. Carlos Hyde and Damien Williams make a great veteran, downhill presence for Kansas City. That’s exactly the balance they need for their pass offense.
Meanwhile, Philip Lindsay and Royce Freeman and are younger and theoretically more explosive that is needed on a young Denver offense. Lindsay had a breakout year, but we’ve seen the Broncos have slumps their second year too. Still, he gives the Broncos the second spot due to last year’s Pro Bowl status and his ability to impact both the run and the pass. Freeman can do that too when healthy.
Speaking of health, Melvin Gordon is the class of the position if he’s healthy. He is a TD machine, which is always valuable on a contending team. His backups have proven not to be a slouch either. Assuming the Chargers o-line takes a step forward with some added health and continuity, there is no reason Gordon and his backup shouldn’t have the most impact.