The biggest loss in free agency for the Raiders may have been Michael Bush. He has been the most dependable running back the Raiders have had over the past three seasons and last season, nearly reached 1000 yards rushing in just nine starts.
The Raiders are now tasked with replacing the big back. Darren McFadden in the starter but he has never been dependable due to injury. His best season was 2010 in which he started 13 games. Every other season, the Raiders looked to Bush for the bulk of the load.
The Raiders drafted Taiwan Jones last year and traded for Mike Goodson from the Panthers recently. But neither of those backs has the skills or the size necessary to replace the production that Bush provided this offense as a changeup, goal line back. Now the Raiders will look to the draft to fill that role.
Here are the backs that best fit what the Raiders need:
Robert Turbin, Utah State: Round 4
The most ideal running back prospect in this draft for the Raiders. He is a stalky, solid back with a one-cut-and-go style that fits the zone scheme perfectly. He rushed for 1517 yards and had 19 touchdowns last season, helping Utah State reach their first bowl game since 1997. That performance also earned him WAC Offensive Player of the Year honors. At the scouting combine, he ran a 4.5 40-yard dash, had 28 reps on the bench press, and a 10-2 broad jump.
I have Turbin as a round four prospect but his stock is rising and he will most likely be gone by the time the Raiders pick at the tail end of round four. He may even be gone by the time the Raiders have their first pick of the draft at #95. But, there is really no way the Raiders choose a running back with their first pick. The only way the Raiders choose Turbin is if he were still on the board with their round four selection.
Dan Herron, Ohio State: Round 5
The same height (5-10) and a few pounds lighter than Turbin (213), Herron can still pack a punch. As a junior he ran for 1155 yards with 16 touchdowns and was named First Team All Big Ten. He was one of several Ohio State players who was suspended the first five games of last season and therefore was only able to put up 678 yards but he still averaged 5 yards a carry.
Jonas Gray, Notre Dame: Round 6
Gray could be a steal for some team-- especially the Raiders. He tore his ACL near the end of his senior season but before he went out, he was averaging an incredible 6.9 yards per carry. He is also bigger than either Turbin or Herron. Gray participated in his Pro Day, running routes and making cuts, but due to his recovering from his injury, he did not attempt to run the 40-yard dash as well as the other physical drills. He did, however, bench press 22 reps of 225 pounds.
Undrafted free agents:
Mike Ball, Nevada- 5-10, 215
Derrick Coleman, UCLA- 5-11, 230