Everyone knows that, despite his undeniable talent, Darren McFadden is far from reliable as the Oakland Raiders’ starting running back. It’s almost a guarantee that, at some point this season, the former first-round pick will fall to injury.
When that fateful day comes, the Raiders will be forced to depend on a different running back to carry their ground game. While he’s not currently the first option behind McFadden, rookie sixth-rounder Latavius Murray should be a serious consideration to fill the eventual void for the Oakland rushing attack.
It hasn’t been more than a month and a half since Murray joined the Raiders, and yet the UCF product has already made a lasting impression on the Oakland coaching staff. Even head coach Dennis Allen hasn’t been shy about how impressed he is with Murray’s early showing.
“Probably the thing that’s been most impressive is that he’s picked up everything offensively from a schematic standpoint, assignment wise,” Allen said. “He’s done a great job in pass protection. That’s one of the things you see with young backs that they struggle with at times.”
With a 6’3’’, 223-pound frame, Murray possesses the power needed to thrive in the Raiders’ new gap-blocking scheme. Although he lacks some agility and elusiveness, the rookie makes up for it with versatility, vision, straight-line speed (4.38 40-yard dash) and tenacity. He’s just the type of under-the-radar talent the Raiders need to catch opponents off guard in 2013.
Heading into training camp, Murray will be caught in a battle with free agent acquisition Rashad Jennings for the No. 2 running back spot behind McFadden. Jennings has never been more than decent backup, and flopped when he was thrust into a starting role for the Jacksonville Jaguars last season. Considering how much praise Murray received during the Raiders’ rookie minicamp and OTAs, he stands a good chance of winning the war.
The drafting of Murray highlights the underrated offseason the Raiders have had. Keep an eye out for the exciting rookie as he attempts to lock down the No. 2 gig during training camp.