The Raiders rushing attack was 28th in the league last year. They needed help. Jack Del Rio has made no secret of his intentions to add a complementary back this offseason to help lighten the load off of Latavius Murray. The term used for the planned addition is a ‘complementary back'. It's also been called a ‘change of pace back'.
That role was unfilled for this team last year, despite their efforts in signing the likes of Roy Helu jr and Trent Richardson as well as moving Taiwan Jones back to running back.
With the way Jack Del Rio spoke of Murray and the running game immediately following the season, there was no way he was going to be going into this season without another running back in place.
"We'll improve the running game," said Del Rio back on January 4. "That was certainly an area I had hoped by this point would be further along. Latavius, we got him over 1,000 yards and he did a nice job of staying healthy and making it through a full season. We feel like there will be an opportunity to really have some growth there. We'll attack that with all of our force."
It's safe to say "we got him over 1,000 yards and he did a nice job of staying healthy" isn't an endorsement Murray is going to be putting on his resume any time soon.
That statement by Del Rio was made a day following a season in which Murray got off to a great start, but faded down the stretch. His yards per carry went from 4.8 over the first 8 games to 3.25 over the final eight. He also didn't surpass 100 yards once in the final 8 games to finish with 1066 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns.
This is not to trash Murray, but to show just how necessary it was for the Raiders to get him and the offense some help out of the backfield.
After making no moves in free agency, the Raiders would get that help in the draft where they selected DeAndre Washington out of Texas Tech in the 5th round.
From all indications, the stocky, shifty Washington is the ideal complement to the upright, long striding Murray. And the fact that the Raiders didn't target a RB until the 5th round where they chose a player who isn't seen as a feature back type only solidifies Murray's role in this offense. But Murray sees competition.
"I knew that was going to be their decision going into the draft," Murray said. "For me, it doesn't change anything. I have to do what I have to do when I'm in the game. Coming in here and getting better every day. I just have to do my job. I'm sure he's out there competing just like I am."
Murray's approach sums up what it's like in the NFL offseason. These players must eventually face outside competition, but until then there is a competition going on to secure roster spots, playing time, and starting jobs.
In 2014, Latavius earned his shot. In 2015, he got that shot. Now he must fight to keep it.