2014 NFL Draft: 5 RBs the Oakland Raiders Could Target
5 RBs the Raiders Would Love to Have
Based on what the Oakland Raiders decide to do with their impending free agents, they could be looking towards the 2014 NFL Draft to find some serious help at running back.
Starter Darren McFadden is scheduled to hit the open market this offseason. While he’s easily a Top 10 back in terms of talent, his inability to stay healthy could force the Raiders to let him walk. Backup Rashad Jennings showed well when he stepped in for McFadden, but could come with too high of a price tag in 2014.
The Raiders currently have 2013 sixth-rounder Latavius Murray waiting in the wings. He spent his entire rookie season on Injured Reserve after an ankle injury limited him throughout training camp and the preseason. This upcoming season could offer him an opportunity to steal the starting job, though.
Still, even if Murray pans out as a quality starter, the Raiders will need a serious upgrade to the depth chart. The only other runner currently on the roster is Jeremy Stewart, a power back with limited long-term potential. Fullback Marcel Reece could also command some significant snaps, but doesn't appear to be a No. 1 back in the Raiders' eyes.
That’s why the 2014 NFL Draft will be integral in molding the Raiders’ running game moving forward. With a class filled with potential playmakers, Oakland will have every opportunity to find a back ready to contribute behind Murray or whoever is starting next season.
With that in mind, here’s a look at five runners the Raiders should seriously consider when May rolls around.
Carlos Hyde, Ohio State
A strong, powerful runner, Hyde proved in 2013 that he’s more than just a short-yardage back. With outstanding vision and the leg drive to push the pile, he helped the Buckeyes move the chains time and time again while occasionally pitching in a big-yardage run. It may seem on the surface like Hyde is a one-dimensional runner with limited effectiveness at the next level, but he’s the type of bruising back the Raiders would love to have on their roster.
Jeremy Hill, LSU
Another big, physical back with plenty of power to pick up the tough yards, Hill has the talent to be a quality contributor at the next level. Unfortunately, he also has had his fair share of off-field issues that could dissuade teams from spending a Day 2 pick on him. If the Raiders feel comfortable with him after pre-draft interviews, though, Hill could easily become a big part of the Silver and Black’s rushing attack in the next couple of years.
Terrance West, Towson
Arguably the top small-school running back in the nation, the FCS stud has spent the last two years racking up huge numbers. In 2013, he totaled over 2,500 rushing yards and 42 touchdowns, setting numerous records along the way. Using power, vision and versatility, West has played his way onto NFL radars – enough to forego his senior season at Towson. As long as his body holds up, there’s no reason to believe West can’t produce consistent numbers as a pro.
Storm Johnson, UCF
The first non-power back in this group, Johnson makes plays with his elusiveness and ability to explode through holes in the defense. After a solid 2013 season, his final three-touchdown performance in the Fiesta Bowl helped him make up his mind on the decision to declare for the draft. He would bring versatility and excitement in the passing game to the Raiders offense while creating a solid one-two punch with former UCF teammate Murray in the Oakland backfield.
Charles Sims, West Virginia
One of the most underrated runners of the 2014 class, Sims is the total package. With outstanding running abilities as well as excellent receiver skills, the West Virginia standout made the most of a poor supporting cast throughout his senior season. Whether he’s putting his phenomenal jump cut on display or catching passes in between double coverage, Sims is always a threat to score six. He possesses a rare feel for the position, and will be a steal no matter where he’s drafted in May.