Greetings, Raider Nation! Welcome to this installment of the draft prospect watch where I take a look at some positional groups the Raiders may want to address at the 2019 NFL Draft. Since the last edition where I talked about pass rushers, the Raiders have added yet another first-round pick. The Raiders may be able to address their needs and also have a luxury pick.
That’s not to say that today’s position group, running backs, would be a luxury pick. Marshawn Lynch, who was a huge part of the Raiders’ plan coming into this season, may never play another snap. Doug Martin may not be around next year. Neither Jalen Richard nor DeAndre Washington are three-down backs. Chris Warren seems like aa quality player, but that should not stop Oakland from adding more depth. Using a first rounder on a running back doesn’t seem so crazy anymore after the successes of Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott and Saquon Barkley.
Here’s a look at some of the top players who will be available at running back in the upcoming draft:
Bryce Love, Stanford
There is little question that Stanford’s Love is the premier running back available. He combines blazing speed, superior vision and elusiveness with tremendous power. He was a Heisman Trophy candidate last season for a reason. In 2017, he averaged over eight yards per carry with 19 touchdowns. The Cardinal offense is predicated on the run and they always seem to have a workhorse back who makes the whole thing work. Love is that guy right now. He is the lone back expected to go in the first round, the rest may be had later.
A good comp for Love, in my opinion, would be Mark Ingram. Love is 5’10” and 196 pounds, a bit lighter than Ingram. He runs with similar power and a touch more speed. Love would make the Raiders offense more consistent and dynamic.
Damien Harris, Alabama
Taking Alabama running backs in the draft can be dicey. Sometimes you get Trent Richardson or Eddy Lacy. Other times you get Mark Ingram, Derrick Henry or Kenyan Drake. Harris is clearly Alabama’s feature back, which says a lot considering the wealth of five-star talent Nick Saban has accumulated at the running back position. But Harris has a ton of tread on his tires because he has only averaged about nine carries per game this year due to the Tide blowing everybody out early.
Harris has elite vision and patience, great balance and strength and is very hard to tackle. He is a hard worker with a terrific work ethic, and even though Bama doesn’t use him much as a receiver, he is pretty good at that as well. Harris averaged seven yards per carry last year, and he could be available at the top of the second round.
Bennie Snell, Kentucky
Where is Kentucky getting all these players from? In the last article I talked about how impactful Wildcats OLB Josh Allen has been. Snell has been equally important to the Kentucky offense.
Snell is not the fastest guy with a 4.6 40, but at 5’11” and 222 pounds he is a powerful runner who can drive through tackles and get extra yards with sheer determination. Defenses often sell out to stop him, and still can’t. He should be available in the second or third rounds.
LJ Scott, Michigan State
Scott is a workhorse back, and he can take the punishment at 6’0” and 225. He has the profile of a power back, but with surprising speed and agility for his size. He looks and plays like Leveon Bell did as a Spartan, and he may need to drop some weight like Bell did once he gets to the NFL in order to become a more complete player. He has good feet and can make people miss instead of just bowling them over, though he can do that too. Scott has been hampered by injuries this year, which could make him a good value pick after Round 2.
David Montgomery, Iowa State
Montgomery is a star, there is no question about that. He may not be the biggest or fastest guy in the world, but he is a playmaker. No back in college football is more elusive, or with the ability to break big plays out of nothing, than he is. Montgomery is a 5’11”, 216 pound dynamo who is an extremely patient runner with the best route-running ability of any back in this draft. A team like the Raiders who like to use their backs in the passing game will be salivating over Montgomery. He is also extremely strong and often takes multiple defenders to bring him down. He could be a surprise in the later rounds a la Northern Iowa’s David Johnson a few years ago. Look for him as a third-day pick. If he had greater straight line speed, he’d be a first round prospect.