We begin this year's NFL Draft Radar series at the running back position. The Raiders have some potentially good options at running back in Latavius Murray, Roy Helu, and Trent Richardson. But if they get the chance to add another young, dynamic runner to this group, it could be worth it to do so.
These are the backs in this draft I see as the most likely targets for the Raiders and the round in which they would receive draft consideration.
Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin - Rd 2
Surely there will be those who will say "no way" Gordon is still on the board in the second round. If you think that is an utmost certainty, you haven't been paying attention to the running back position in the draft the past few years. It's definitely possible. But make no mistake, Gordon is the best back in this draft and a first round talent. He followed up a junior season of 1609 rushing yards with an incredible senior campaign of 2587 yards and 29 touchdowns. If he were available at the 35th pick, he would be a tremendous selection. There are a few backs in this draft who are worthy of a first or second round pick, but Gordon is the only back worth it for the Raiders to put off other more pressing positions for him.
David Johnson, Northern Iowa - Rd 3
Don't let his non-big time school fool you, David Johnson is a real big time talent. The 6-0, 225-pounder has all the tools you need in a running back. He is instinctive, quick to recognize his blocks, can shake you, run around you, or run through you. He also has a vicious stiff arm. He finished with 1553 yards and 17 touchdowns last season and has 4682 yards rushing and 49 touchdowns in four seasons for UNI. He is a fantastic receiver out of the backfield as well, adding 536 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns last season for a total of 6416 yards from scrimmage and 63 touchdowns in his college career. Along with his running back skills, he is an established return specialist, further adding to his value. And if you think he is a marginal talent praying on lower level competition, you need only look at his combine numbers to ease that concern. He had the second fastest time in the all-important 3-cone drill (6.82), fourth fastest 40-yard-dash (4.50), 2nd highest vertical jump (41.5) and broad jump (10'7"), and 4th most bench press reps (25). If he's available in the third, the Raiders could be looking at a very intriguing talent.
Mike Davis, South Carolina - Rd 4
The player to whom Mike Davis has drawn the closest comparisons is Maurice Jones-Drew. Jack Del Rio drafted MJD with Jacksonville and had many good years with him in the Jaguars offense. The 5-9, 220-pound Davis is reminiscent of that and could offer a similar skillset. The reason Davis could fall into the third day of the draft is because he took a step back last season from his 1183 yards and 11 TD's as a sophomore, to 982 yards and 9 TD's as a junior.
Michael Dyer, Louisville - Rd 7
Some serious character concerns are what has Dyer as a fringe draftable player. He has transferred three different times in his college career. Most people remember him from when he was on the Auburn National Championship team in 2011. Aubrun later suspended him and he had to transfer. He was then dismissed by Arkansas State and eventually ended up at Louisville where he spent the last two years. With the gap in his college career, he is now 25 years old. While the Raiders have put a premium on character in recent years, they have also shown a willingness to take chances on talented players with red flags in the lower rounds. Dyer fits that bill.