clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Raiders need to draft a running back from talented 2015 class

New, comments
Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Raiders resigned Darren McFadden and brought in Maurice Jones-Drew in hopes of creating an elite backfield. But with 630 total rushing yards, the Raiders are averaging only 63 rushing yards a game. Not only does that mark dead last in the NFL, it is one of the worst in NFL history.

Darren McFadden is averaging 3.5 yards a carry and has 393 rushing yards on the season. If you thought that was bad, Maurice Jones-Drew is averaging 2.1 yards per carry for a total of 70. The lone bright spot in the backfield has been Latavius Murray.

Murray is leading the team with 5.4 yards a carry, but on only ten carries, he has been held to 54 yards on the season. Last week against the Chargers, Murray finished with 43 yards on four carries (10.8 yards per carry). Murray had a 23 yard run that was the longest run by a Raiders running back all season. So what do the coaches do, they take him out. But the stupidity of the coaching staff is a different story.

Latavius Murray has potential, but in a year offering the strongest running back class since 2008 when five running backs were taken in the first round (Matt Forte, Jamaal Charles and Ray Rice drafted in later rounds), the Raiders must pick a running back.

The Candidates

The 2015 NFL Draft has the potential to have two running backs selected in the first round with another six that could be taken in the second round.

Todd Gurley, Georgia

6'1" and 226 lbs

Four days ago, Gurley was regarded as a top-ten talent and was seen as a first round pick. But after suffering a torn ACL against Auburn, he will likely fall out of the first round. That being said, he is still the best running back I have seen since Adrian Peterson in 2007. His rare combination of size, speed, and power have drawn him comparisons to Marshawn Lynch.

Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin

6'1" and 207 lbs

After he broke LaDainian Tomlinson's single game rushing record with 408 yards and 4 touchdowns against #16 Nebraska, Gordon is looking like a first round pick. Even more impressive about the performance was that he broke the record in three quarters. Gordon leads the FBS with 223 carries for 1,909 yards (8.6 avg.) and 23 touchdowns. Gordon compares to Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles and Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray.

Tevin Coleman, Indiana

6'0" and 210 lbs

While Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon have received the most attention, Coleman has rushed for 1, 678 yards (7.8 avg.) and 12 touchdowns. Against Michigan State's top defense, he ran for 132 yards. This past week against Rutgers, Coleman rushed for 307 yards (9.1 avg.) and one touchdown.

Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska

5'9" and 195 lbs

This season, Abdullah has 1,319 rushing yards (6.5 avg.) and 17 touchdowns. He finished last year with 1,690 yards and 9 touchdowns. While his production at the collegiate level has been elite, he will have over 800 total carries by the time he enters the draft which is a big injury risk and durability concern at the NFL. His vision and quickness remind me of Bengals running back Giovani Bernard.

Duke Johnson, Miami

5'9" and 206 lbs

Once thought of as a pure speed running back, Johnson has become a much more complete back. He has rushed for 1,343 yards (7.3 avg.) and 10 touchdowns this season. Johnson is also a threat out of the backfield as a receiver with 310 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. This past week against Florida State, he ran for 130 yards and a touchdown. Johnson has great playmaking ability and is a threat to score on every play.

David Cobb, Minnesota

5'11" and 229 lbs

His style of play and his size are similar to Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell. While Cobb does not have elite speed or quickness, he runs hard and is tough to tackle. Cobb has great vision and runs well between the tackles. I have him ranked higher than most analysts, but for good reason. Cobb has quietly rushed for 1,350 yards (5.3 avg.) and 11 touchdowns. Last season, he finished with 1,202 yards (5.1 avg.) and 7 touchdowns. Cobb impressed last week rushing for 145 yards and three touchdowns against #5 ranked Ohio State.

T.J. Yeldon, Alabama

6'2" and 221 lbs

Production has never been the issue with Yeldon as he is on track to rush for his third consecutive 1,000 yard season. He has good size and great acceleration for a running back. But he has also always shared the Alabama backfield and split carries with another running back. That is can be a good thing though as he has taken less carries and hits. I am not a fan of Yeldon, but I see the potential and reasons why analysts like him.

Mike Davis, South Carolina

5'9" and 223 lbs

After playing behind Marcus Lattimore his freshman year, Davis shined as a sophomore rushing for 1,183 yards (5.8 avg.) and 11 touchdowns along with 352 receiving yards. This season, Davis has taken a step back but is still having a solid season with 875 yards (5.1 avg.) and 9 touchdowns along with 280 yards receiving. He is projected to be drafted in the late second round or early third round.