Get excited Raider Nation, Reggie McKenzie might have found the perfect complement to Darren McFadden in the sixth round of the draft. Central Florida running back Latavius Murray is a physical freak who is not only one of the fastest running backs in the draft (4.38 40 yard dash) but also one of the biggest (6’3 223 pounds).
With the Oakland Raiders reverting back to a power running scheme, expect Murray to break some big runs over the next few seasons. Murray has also shown that he has great hands coming out of the backfield by having 27 receptions his senior season. The lack of production during his first three years in college was the reason Murray fell to the sixth round, but he did have a great senior year.
Murray is actually bigger than new teammate Darren McFadden which gives the silver and black one of the biggest backfields in the NFL. Having another talented running back is essential to the Raiders’ offense because of McFadden’s injury history.
When McFadden went down last year, the Raiders’ offense went stagnant because they did not have any depth at the running back position. Murray can finally fill the void left by Michael Bush who left in free agency a couple of years ago.
The battle for backup running back will be one of the most interesting stories for the Raiders in Napa. Former Jacksonville Jaguars running back Rashad Jennings will probably be the favorite to win the job because he has the most experience in the NFL. The Raiders also have Jeremy Stewart and possibly Taiwan Jones (who might switch to cornerback) in the backup running back competition.
I believe Murray is physically gifted enough to win the backup job outright. Having a big, athletic running back with great hands will allow the Raiders’ offense to not skip-a-beat when McFadden is on the sideline. Another key element to Murray’s game is that he has not lost a fumble since 2008. New quarterback Matt Flynn likes to throw the ball to multiple receivers so I would expect Murray to fit in perfectly with the Raiders on offense.
Ideally, Murray will become the number two running back this season who can take some pressure off of the fragile McFadden. I know that the Raiders recently signed Jennings, but I believe Murray has what it takes to beat him out in training camp. Expect Murray to be a key contributor on special teams this season, and I would not be surprised if he made a few spot starts in place of McFadden. Raiders fans should applaud Reggie McKenzie for finding a great talent so late in the draft.
Jorge Contreras is an Oakland Raiders writer for RantSports.com. Follow Jorge on Twitter @jraycontreras