Oakland Raiders

Raiders roster preview: Lots of running backs, lots of questions

With the way the Oakland Raiders have built their offensive line, it’s clear they want to be a run-first team. However, while they have the big maulers in the trenches to pave the way, someone has to carry the ball. The Raiders have four running backs who will be competing for roster spots and playing time, but no one they should be overly confident in.

The smart move for the Raiders would be to carry five running backs when the season starts:

  1. Darren McFadden
  2. Maurice Jones-Drew
  3. Latavius Murray
  4. Kory Sheets
  5. Marcel Reece

The Raiders have two guys who’ve shown that they can excel in the NFL — McFadden and MJD. But McFadden has also proven that he cannot stay healthy and hasn’t shown the ability to excel since the 2010 season. Maurice Jones-Drew has seen much more success in his career, but is coming off two bad seasons. At the age of 29 he is dangerously close to that point where NFL running backs cease to be productive. It would be a shock if either had a great year, but perhaps in a platoon they can put up impressive stats.

Behind them are two completely unproven guys in Sheets and Murray.

Sheets had a few stints on NFL rosters in camp and preseason, but after failing to make a final roster he moved on to the CFL where he found success; he was the 2013 Grey Cup MVP, and rushed for 2,875 yards and 23 touchdowns in two CFL seasons with the Saskatchewan RoughRiders. But despite still trying to break into the NFL, Sheets is also on the older side for a running back as he is also 29.

Murray was a sixth round pick of the Raiders in 2013 and the coaches were very high on him until he got hurt in the preseason and ended up missing his entire rookie year. Often times if a sixth-rounder is injured the way Murray was, the team would not use the injured reserve designation on him. But because the Raiders thought so highly of Murray after training camp and part of the preseason, they decided to be sure they could bring him back in 2014. Of all the guys on the roster, it’s Murray who may have the best chance of being an impact player at running back for the Raiders … even though he is not likely to be the day one starter.

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