The Las Vegas Raiders running back bet hit the jackpot last year as rookie Josh Jacobs blossomed into a star but he isn’t the only offensive weapon in the backfield for the team in 2020.
Ahead of the 2020 influx season, the Las Vegas Raiders running backs situation – already in good shape – got better as the team made moves to strengthen the running back room. Let’s breakdown how the team’s offensive backfield situation looks heading into the summer.
Josh Jacobs has been a breath of fresh air for the Raiders running backs corps. A strong candidate for 2019 NFL Rookie of the Year, Jacobs ran for 1,150 yards in his rookie campaign, in addition to receiving for 166 yards, and scoring 7 touchdowns in the Silver and Black, all in only 13 games. He’s an easy choice for the top of an NFL depth chart and should continue to make waves in the AFC this season and for years to come.
The Raiders made a big move in signing Devontae Booker from the Denver Broncos last week. Booker has spent his career in Denver since he was drafted in 2016, and has largely been used as a second or third back, behind the likes of phenom Phillip Lindsey and Royce Freeman, so he’s used to not having the spotlight. Booker is a good replacement for Deandre Washington, who signed with the Kansas City Chiefs this offseason.
Lynn Bowden Jr.
One of the favorite picks of the draft this year, Lynn Bowden Jr. is a virtual Swiss Army knife. A true Al Davis type of pick, there’s not much on the football field that Bowden doesn’t do. While listed as a running back, and fully capable of playing a strong role in the RB corps, don’t be surprised to see this young man wear multiple hats throughout the season.
One of the stalwarts in the Raiders running backs room over the last 4 years has been undrafted free agent Jalen Richard. Richard has been the consistent presence as a core player in the Raiders backfield. Richard, although undersized and underweight, plays bigger than he is and is willing to do the work to improve. Whether he’s having a solid season like his 2016 rookie year or struggling as he did in 2017, Richard shows that he wants to work. Expect to see some consistency in play from 2019 and possibly a bump up now that his mirror Deandre Washington is no longer splitting carries.
Returning to the team this year is Rod Smith. After a 2019 season that saw him bounce from the Tennessee Titans to the Oakland Raiders for 3 games each (primarily as a roster placeholder), he’ll get another shot in Las Vegas to earn a place on the team. He’ll be a good option for depth and may have something to prove after 6 years that have seen very limited production or opportunity.
The Raiders made an interesting move in signing CFL running back William Stanback. After being signed and subsequently cut by the Green Bay Packers in 2017, Stanback signed with the Montreal Alouettes and began seeing consistent playing time in August 2018. He was a dual threat both running and receiving out of the backfield. In 2019, he rushed for 1,039 yards on 170 carries and caught 33 receptions for 329 yards, ultimately scoring 5 times for the Alouettes. He appears to be all that Jon Gruden could ask for and will likely be a favorite to make the roster.
Alec Ingold made up the second half of the one-two punch that was the Raiders 2019 rushing attack. Operating primarily as a lead blocker for Josh Jacobs, Ingold was a good decoy as well due to his ability to catch the ball and run with efficiency.
Ingold is a pure fullback in every sense and plays the exact role that Gruden asks him to play, opening up the field for Jacobs and others, and handling the ball when called upon. Make no mistake, Ingold and Jacobs will be a perfect package for the Las Vegas Raiders for years to come.
The Raiders running backs give Gruden and staff a lot of options and good potential playmakers in this season’s rushing attack. If the players click quickly, and are able to overcome the unique challenges a post-COVID19 offseason presents, there may be more than one rusher to rack up large amounts of yards during their inaugural season in Las Vegas.