Last season, the Oakland Raiders gave five different running backs consistent snaps. This season, there’s a good chance that it’ll be more of the same.
If that’s the case, sixth-round running back Latavius Murray should get an opportunity to contribute sooner than you’d expect for a late-round rookie. Seeing how the Raiders’ luck has been lately, the UCF product playing early could be a blessing in disguise.
Since the Raiders spent the No. 4 pick in the 2008 NFL Draft on Darren McFadden, Oakland has watched their once-promising ball carrier become one of the most injury-prone in the league. His inability to stay on the field has forced the Raiders to spread their carries around to the weekly favorite, which results in a running game completely void of continuity.
The overwhelming consensus is that, at some point this season, McFadden will go down again. It’s become an annual tradition for the Raiders, who are almost done hoping that their former first-round pick will translate into much more than an unreliable starter.
When the Raiders are forced to look for a contingency plan, Murray could (and should) be a serious consideration.
In Murray, the Raiders have a big, powerful back who can be a difference-maker with the ball in hands. Measuring in at 6’3’’, 220-pounds, Murray has the frame and physicality to be a productive runner in the Oakland offense. While there are some concerns about his durability – leave it to the Raiders to draft an injury-prone running back – he did a decent job of staying healthy enough during his senior campaign to put up impressive numbers.
Even if Murray does become a part of the Oakland game plan, the Raiders will likely team him with another back such as Rashad Jennings to implement a one-two punch. He doesn’t have the versatility to be an every-down back, but brings power, short-yardage effectiveness and receiving capabilities to the party.
It’s going to be a rough year for the Raiders and GM Reggie McKenzie, who didn’t do too much to immediately improve the roster via the 2013 NFL Draft. If Murray pans out, there will at least be some silver lining to the season.