Marshawn Lynch was acquired by by the Raiders to be their starter and carry the bulk of the load in the running game. What should not be lost in the hype of this acquisition is that the Raiders already have two very good running backs who were a major factor in the team ranking 6th in the NFL in rushing yards last season.
While Latavius Murray left in free agency, signing a three year contract with Minnesota, second year running backs Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington have proven they can produce when called upon. While they didn’t rack up huge stats individually, they provided some big plays often at key moments in the game. Pro Football Focus took notice of their performances.
Jalen Richard is a 5’8”, 207-pound ball of dynamite. He made the team as an undrafted free agent out of Southern Miss. He burst onto the scene taking his first career NFL carry 75 yards for a touchdown in the week 1 match-up against the Saints. While he may not have had as big of a play the rest of the year, he had plenty of great ones.
PFF grading Richard as the most elusive running back in the NFL shows it wasn’t just the imposing offensive line either. Jalen had no problem making defenders miss tackles in space. Denver Broncos safety TJ Ward can attest to that.
The shifty Richard finished his rookie year with 83 carries for 492 yards with an astounding 5.9 yards per carry, which led all NFL running backs with at least 80 carries.
He added another 194 yards on 29 receptions and 2 touchdowns. Much of the season, the coaches to play the undrafted Richard over Washington whom they drafted in the 5th round.
That is not to say that 5th round draft pick didn’t have a very good rookie year of his own. DeAndre Washington is the 5’8”, 204-pound running back the Raiders drafted out of Texas Tech.
While his counterpart took the NFL by storm, Washington was a tale of gradual progression. After sitting out two weeks late in the season, Washington had his best game of the season in a week 16 match-up with the Colts. Washington had 99 yards on only 12 carries for an 8.3 yards per carry average in that game. He also scored the only 2 rushing touchdowns of his rookie season in this game, both on 22 yard runs.
Big runs were really Washington’s calling card last season with over 1⁄3 of his total yardage coming from runs over 15 yards as noted by PFF.
Washington gained 467 yards on 87 carries for 5.4 yards per carry while proving that he is tough to bring down as well. Unlike some of the bigger running backs the Raiders have utilized recently, Washington was completely unfazed by arm tackles. First contact rarely got him to the ground as seen in this 30 yard run.
With both Richard and Washington averaging over 5 yards per carry, they will continue to get opportunities to contribute. Having a three running back rotation will keep them all fresh and the defense on their heels.
The Raiders look like they will be set at the running back position even after Lynch’s contract expires. While most players are currently in the the long shadow that Lynch’s presence casts, try not to forget those short, speedy backs that are going to terrorize defenses once again this season.
Also see: Raiders rookie scat back highlight reels
Which running back will have the best season?
This poll is closed