Heading into Training Camp, the Oakland Raiders have six running backs on the current roster. With Jon Gruden wanting to use a fullback in more situations, the Raiders will likely only keep three traditional running backs. Inevitably, some of Del Rio’s guys from last season will no longer be with the team moving forward. There will be at least one odd man out in this Raiders running back group.
Oakland Raiders Odd Man Out: Running Back
There is only one obvious player that will be kept on the roster as the Raiders enter 2018. That man is Beast Mode himself, Marshawn Lynch. Although he may not be the Beast Mode of old, he is clearly this team’s best back and certainly has some juice left in the tank. In the final seven games of the season, Lynch averaged 82 yards per game. Lynch came on near the end of the year and proved that he still has some fight left in him. Expect Lynch to have another productive season this year as this team’s primary back.
After Lynch, this backfield is a bit hazy as there are varying skill sets between the remaining backs. Doug Martin will win the backup job behind Lynch and could prove to be a solid number two back. He has had some off the field issues, and on the field, he has struggled to stay consistent. In his two most productive years, he surpassed 1400 yards with 17 total touchdowns including a 4 touchdown outing against the Raiders in 2012. In the down years, he only averaged 444 yards, so the inconsistency is clearly present. Martin provides a boom or bust backup to Lynch, and with his cap hit at only 1.45 million this season, he is a welcome commodity.
On The Bubble
Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington have an almost identical skill set, so unfortunately for them, only one will likely be kept. Richard offers superior skill on offense, along with his ability to return punts and kickoffs. He did put the ball on the ground eight times this past season, but the Raiders, as a whole, were sloppy with the ball. In 2016, Richard didn’t fumble all year and was a steady presence in the backfield. Richard will provide this group with some twitchiness that Lynch and Martin can’t bring at this point in their careers.
The Raiders brought in two undrafted free agents for camp with almost the exact opposite measurables. Chris Warren III stands at 6’2 and 245lbs while James Butler is 5’9 210lbs. With his frame, Warren may be the “fill in” for Lynch and could find himself on the 53 man roster. Warren played both RB and H-back at Texas and has a hybrid skill set. He is having a solid camp so far and the coaches are taking notice. His size makes it easy for him to stand out. Warren is my dark horse candidate to make this roster as an UDFA.
Butler had found some success at Nevada when he was ranked as the most elusive running back in college football. After a coaching change at Nevada, Butler transferred to Iowa for his Senior season. He has a similar skill set to Richard and Washington, which may make it difficult for him to find snaps this season. Butler will likely land himself on the practice squad after training camp.