Josh Jacobs is a feature back in every sense. The Raiders star rusher can do most everything well and is capable of playing all three downs. He can carry a significant workload, as he did during an exemplary 2019 campaign where he finished second in AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year voting, and frankly should have won.
He had 242 carries for 1,150 yards and seven touchdowns in 13 games, proving to be a tough and elusive runner who gains significant yards after contact.
Jalen Richard’s an excellent complement as a third-down back who can pass protect well and is an excellent receiver out of the backfield.
While those two can cover every offensive scenario, the Raiders should still work to add another running back.
That was clear at the end of last year when Jacobs was shut down with a shoulder injury he played through for weeks. DeAndre Washington filled in as the primary ball carrier and fared well but was allowed to hit the open market, where he remains today.
The Raiders could and should look to upgrade that position and not just by finding a backup. They need someone with a different style, maybe a big and bruising back to accent what the Raiders do offensively.
They tried to do that last season, when they worked out every veteran running back under the sun but didn’t sign anyone until Rod Smith came aboard late.
The sixth-year journeyman re-signed with the Raiders on a low-cost contract.
The NFL draft will have quality options available later in the draft, where the Raiders have three third-round picks and one each in the fourth and fifth.
It might take a third-round pick to land Boston College’s A.J. Dillion, a 247-pound bruiser who can run downhill and pick up short yardage by moving the pile. Draft analysts say he’s good at reading blocks and following his assignment, something important in Jon Gruden’s offense.
Vanderbilt’s Ke'Shawn Vaughn is an option who might be available later. He isn’t quite as big but has the toughness required to get hard yards and could absorb some blows to keep Jacobs healthy and fresh.
This isn’t a full-on draft breakdown, so we won’t go down the list of every scheme fit available for selection. There aren’t many free agent dollars left, so it’s hard to see another runner coming in.
The Raiders can survive with the depth chart they’ve got, especially with fullback Alec Ingold able to carry the ball effectively when called upon. But the NFL is trending toward two back benefits, even when there’s an obvious alpha like Jacobs.
Gruden has historically preferred feeding multiple backs, as he did in his previous Raiders stint with Tyrone Wheatley and Napoleon Kauffman, and later with Wheatley and Charlie Garner.
Gruden has also ridden one back pretty hard, as he did with Cadillac Williams while with Tampa Bay.
The Raiders are more than capable of rolling with the crew they have but could use to make the backfield a little better before the 2020 season begins by filling a relatively low-ranking need.