Earlier this offseason the Oakland Raiders signed former Jets and Browns running back Isaiah Crowell to a one-year deal with a cap hit of $1.25 million, but today we learned that Crowell will be out for the season with a torn Achilles. So where will the Raiders turn after losing an offseason signing in their running back room?
Last season the Raiders were near the bottom of the league in both rushing yards and yards per carry, but they did have Jalen Richard who racked up 607 yards through the air last season and they were hoping by adding a player who is averaging 4.3 yards per carry with 27 touchdowns in his career over 51 games started, that they would be able to up that running production.
Jalen Richard is someone who will still be around and is someone who I expected to still be a part of the offense this season, but he may have to have an even bigger role than the Raiders were planning on with this injury and now the team has also brought back Doug Martin, who had 723 yards and four touchdowns in his first season in Oakland last year, but he is now 30-years old and it doesn’t feel like he’s someone that Oakland can really count on if they want to make a big improvement in the running game.
This is where Josh Jacobs comes in. Jacobs was one of the teams’ three first-round picks and he is a very well-rounded back coming out of Alabama who had 1,491 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground and 571 yards receiving and five touchdowns during his career at Alabama.
Relying on an Alabama running back coming into the NFL has been somewhat of a risky proposition because they have tended to be bigger backs who aren’t as nimble and a lot of the time they have a lot of tread on the tires. That’s not the case for Jacobs. He only had one season in his three at Alabama that he had over 100 carries and that was this past season.
This highlight film will show you some of the versatility that made Jacobs a first-round pick:
Losing Crowell is certainly not ideal because adding Jacobs to go with Crowell was going to be an improved backfield over Jalen Richard, Doug Martin and Marshawn Lynch but now it will be more of a pass-catching backfield in my opinion with Jacobs and Richard, but when you watch Jacobs you can see that he is a physical, one-cut back that should be able to translate to the NFL as long as he is able to be patient and not run up the backs of his offensive lineman because his line isn’t going to blow opposing teams off the ball in Oakland like they did at Alabama.
I really like Joshua Jacobs coming into the NFL because his versatility is something that should play well in today’s NFL and I think he will be a more productive version of Jalen Richard.
So yes Raiders fans, you’ll be relying a lot on a rookie in the backfield, but that hasn’t been a bad thing at all for teams over the past few seasons, and someone you can look at is Alvin Kamara with the Saints. Jacobs isn’t quite as shifty and Kamara is, but he has a lot of the same skills in terms of being able to run for both power and bust off the explosive runs, and then catch passes and be able to return kicks.
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