Since I began this series I don't know how many years ago, this is the first time we won't be covering every position. Part of that is because it's the first time I can remember there being some positions the team is in no need of drafting a player. In fact I caught a considerable amount of flak for daring suggest the Raiders might actually have 8 positions on which they could use their 8 draft picks.
One such position is that of running back. It's not first among this series because it's the greatest need. The order of positions has nothing to do with level of need. But the Raiders will be looking to add a running back in this draft. And these are the prospects I project they will be watching most closely along with the round in which they could look to nab them.
Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio St - Round 1
What's not to like? Elliott has it all. He's big, fast, elusive, and will drive a defense crazy trying to get a hand on him, let alone bring him down once they do. He put of over 1800 yards in each the past two seasons while averaging 6.7 yards per carry and added 41 total touchdowns. He is the only back in this class who is a lock for the first round and even having him on the board at 14 seems to be wishful thinking at this point. I'd be surprised if he makes it out of the top 10.
Paul Perkins, UCLA - Round 3
Outside of Elliott, no back in this draft impresses me more than Perkins. He can put his foot in the ground and change directions with ankle-breaking quickness. He's a one cut and go runner with exceptional speed that he can maintain while weaving his way through defenders. Fantastic downfield vision and instincts means he's always a move ahead of the defender. Add his receiving talents out of the backfield and he looks to be just what the Raiders are looking for in a change-up back.
Devontae Booker, Utah - Round 3-4
Booker hasn't been talked about much this offseason, mostly due to his recovering from a knee injury that kept him from workouts at the combine and the Utah pro day. But when this Sacramento product had his personal pro day, the Raiders were on hand for a close look.
Talent wise, he's better than a fourth round product. But considering his injury and his age (24), he may get passed up in favor of a few other backs. Booker shows great balance, a low center of gravity, and persistence in keeping his legs churning to routinely break arm tackles. Once he finds his seam, he has good burst to get up to speed quickly. And once he does, he can fly. He also shows excellent concentration and hands as a receiver out of the backfield.
Daniel Lasco, Cal - Round 5
Injuries in two of his last three seasons kept Lasco from proving himself as a second day pick. What jumps out initially is his elite athleticism. His scouting combine numbers were at the top of his class. His 11'3" Broad jump jump is longest for a running back in over a decade while his 41.5 inch vertical jump is tied for 3rd over that time. Lasco also landed in the top five in this class in the 40-yard-dash (4.46), Bench press reps (23), and 60-yard shuttle (11.31).
On the field he shows patience to let holes develop and then bursts through with authority. He keeps his shoulders down and charges downhill to consistently maximize his yardage as well as drag defenders for extra yards.
Tyler Ervin, San Jose State - Round 6
Ervin reminds me a lot of Taiwan Jones. He has a slight build, is dangerous in space, can run like the wind, and offers the added bonus of being a return specialist. Although, despite Ervin's 40 time being second among running backs, it doesn't touch Jones' 4.28 40-yard-dash at his pro day. Ervin attended the Raiders' local pro day so the team was able to get a good long look at him to see if he has what they're looking for.