Oakland Raiders Must Trust in Latavius Murray in 2014
With Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings both headed for free agency this offseason, the Oakland Raiders will soon be looking for a new starting running back. That’s where soon-to-be sophomore Latavius Murray comes in.
The Raiders’ 2013 sixth-round pick out of UCF, Murray turned heads during his rookie training camp. An ankle injury, however, forced him to miss most of the preseason and eventually landed him on Injured Reserve for the entire 2013 campaign. Now healthy, though, he’s primed to make a serious push for the No. 1 job in Oakland.
What makes him such an intriguing option for the Raiders is his rare combination of size and speed. With 4.3 wheels and a 6’3’’, 230-pound frame, he can outrun defenders or create his own yards by bowling them over. On top of that, he’s a capable receiver out of the backfield – evidenced by his 50 catches, 524 yards and six touchdowns during his career at UCF.
Murray fell to the sixth round in the first place due to his underrated status as a UCF alum. Believe it or not, NFL Draft fans weren’t too aware of the Golden Knights until recently, when fast-riser Blake Bortles led them to an upset victory over Baylor.
At this point, the only player standing in the way of Murray and the starting job is Jeremy Stewart, an undrafted free agent out of Stanford in 2012. Stewart has shown well in limited action since joining the Raiders, but doesn’t offer the type of physical tools that Murray brings to the table.
The Raiders could also choose to draft a running back during the 2014 NFL Draft. The class is stacked with starting-caliber ball-carriers, but Oakland has too many needs to address to spend anything more than a late-round pick on a running back.
Unless GM Reggie McKenzie opts to bring back McFadden (which would be a terrible move) or Jennings (which would likely be too expensive), Murray has the inside track to the No. 1 spot on the running back depth chart. As long as he stays healthy, the former sixth-rounder could soon be giving every other team in the NFL reason to wish they had taken him off the board last April.
Keep your eyes peeled for Murray this offseason.