Raiders Draft Radar 2013: Running Back

Al Messerschmidt

Which running back prospects in the 2013 draft are most likely to show up on the Raiders draft radar?

We move on to the running backs as I work through the positions and players on the Raiders draft radar. Along with the player, I include the round in which the Raiders would be likely to take the player should he be available with their pick in that round.

Running back is a real need for the Raiders. They currently have Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings as their top two backs. Jennings has never proven he can step up and be a starting caliber back and with McFadden's injury history, it is likely Jennings will be asked to step up at some point this season. The team needs a third young back (aside from Jeremy Stewart) who has starter potential for now and in the future.

Here are those running back who show up on the Raiders draft radar:

Le'Veon Bell, Michigan State - Round 3

A big, strong back (6-2, 230 pounds) who has all the tools to be a complete back in the NFL. He is durable despite not being the type of back who shies away from contact. He is hard to bring down and gets a lot of his yards after contact which could make him an ideal short yardage, third down back, and goal line back. After gaining nearly 1000 yard in just six starts as a sophomore, he exploded for 1,793 yards in 13 games as a junior. With his only having one full season as the fulltime starter, he doesn't have a lot of wear and tear.

Johnathan Franklin, UCLA - Round 4

He made his way on the Raiders radar with a strong Senior Bowl week for the Raiders staff's North squad. He was respectable the past in his sophomore and junior seasons but really burst onto the scene as a senior when he for 1,734 rushing yards with an eye-popping yards per carry average of 6.1. He is considered a smart, hard-working, gritty, passionate player with a strong locker room presence - all qualities Reggie McKenzie values.

Stepfan Taylor, Stanford - Round 4-5

His backup, Jeremy Stewart, joined the Raiders last year as an undrafted free agent. Taylor is a well-established force as a running back. The three-year fulltime starter has gone over 1000 yards each season for the Cardinal, with his production rising each season - Soph. 1,137, Junior 1,330, Senior 1,530. Stanford leaned on him most against the toughest competition - averaging 26 carries for 127 yards in wins over USC, Arizona (OT), Oregon, UCLA (twice), and Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. Taylor was also given the ball 28 times for 102 yards in a the Cardinal's one loss in overtime at Notre Dame. He is a well-built 5-9, 216 pounds and though he is considered a power back, has plenty of wiggle and speed to get around potential tacklers. Reggie McKenzie attended his Stanford Pro Day personally and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver knows him from his 2011 season as Stanford's co-defensive coordinator.

Zac Stacy, Vanderbilt - Round 7-FA

An intriguing late-round prospect. At a solid 5-8, 215 pounds, he has a very Ray Rice/Maurice Jones-Drew quality about him. He has great instincts and juking ability and finishes off his runs. He doesn't have the speed of a guy like Darren Sproles but could fill the same type of role. He has some durability concerns but if used as a change-up back -- much like the Raiders used Mike Goodson last season -- he would not get worn down or dinged up as he was as Vanderbilt's primary back.

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