Typically when a rookie is behind two veterans on the depth chart, chances are slim to none they’ll be seeing the field much in the NFL. With Oakland Raiders sophomore running back Latavius Murray, though, it could be a very different story in 2014.
Currently sitting behind Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew in the pecking order, Murray might have to wait awhile to see any significant action for the Raiders this upcoming season. When he finally gets an opportunity, though, you’ll understand why I’ve labeled him a “sleeper.”
Murray, a 2013 sixth-round pick out of UCF, is an explosive running back with the skill set to be a starter for the Raiders. He has the size to punish defenders, and the speed to leave defensive backs in the dust. While some of the finer points of his game still need some work – keeping pad level low, pass blocking – Murray has the tools to eventually take over as the starter in Oakland.
Seeing as McFadden and Jones-Drew are both injury prone backs with a history of missing significant snaps, that time could come for Murray sooner rather than later. That is, if he can stay healthy himself.
After putting on a show during Raiders training camp last season, Murray fell to an ankle injury that eventually landed him on Injured Reserve. He spent his entire rookie season watching from the sidelines, but should be ready to turn heads as a sophomore.
Murray is the definition of a sleeper. Not many know about him, and his current team isn’t exactly eager to get him touches. When his time finally comes, though, Murray will make everyone wish he had been starting sooner. You heard it here first: Murray will be a 1,000-yard back within the next three seasons.
Head coach Dennis Allen has a keeper in Murray. For his sake, let’s hope it doesn’t take too long for him to figure it out.