Oakland Raiders Season Preview: Running Backs

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Oakland Raiders RB Josh Jacobs

When the Oakland Raiders lost Isaiah Crowell to injury, and with doubts about Marshawn Lynch’s return, the team appeared poised to start Doug Martin at running back.

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Some still believe Martin may find himself starting come Week 1, but it is beginning to feel like he will be competing for snaps once again.

Martin, a 2-time 1,400-yard rusher, does not appear to be with the team to mentor Josh Jacobs. In fact, the Muscle Hamster proved he still has more than enough in the tank last season when he averaged 4.2 yards per carry, his highest YPC in a year in which he did not make the Pro Bowl.

In 2017, Martin rushed 138 times for 406 yards with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Last year, he tallied 172 times for 723 yards in his first season with the Raiders. His improved stats show he fits the team’s running scheme, which is more than the player he is competing for snaps with.

The Rookie

Josh Jacobs was the first running back drafted in the 2019 NFL Draft, and after reading combine reports and rewatching his college highlights, it is shocking he fell to the 24th pick. NFL.com grades Jacobs as an instant starter, which is certainly something to keep in mind while attempting to predict the depth chart.

Graded as an instant starter means Jacobs has all the skills necessary to comfortably start in his first season. It also means he does not have any flaws significant enough for him to need a senior mentor on the team.

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Some  see Jacobs as a power back, choosing to run through defenders instead of around them, almost to a fault. Nevertheless, Jacobs can also catch passes and has speed and endurance to bust runs to the outside. Whatever label is placed on Jacobs, expect him to start in Week 1 of the 2019 season.

While Jacobs possesses above average pass catching abilities, do not expect to see him in every pass catching situation.

The Wildcard

Jalen Richard joined the Raiders in 2016 and has improved every year since. It is strange to say Richard has improved when, in 2018, he rushed for only about half the yards he recorded in 2016. While his rushing stats slip lower and lower, his receiving stats are skyrocketing.

In 2018, Richard posted 607 receiving yards, a total that would rank him 6th amongst NFL running backs . Richard tied Michael Crabtree for receiving yards last year. He earned more receiving yards than stars like Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliot, and Melvin Gordon.

Odd Man Out?

Deandre Washington is also rostered for the Raiders, but his stats decreased annually. Moreover, he nearly vanished during Jon Gruden’s second term as head coach. Washington’s style resembles Richard, but appears less reliable.

Depth discussions occur frequently during the offseason. However, but it is great to know the Raiders seem deep enough at one position.

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