The 2017 Rose Bowl featuring #7 Penn State and a talented USC team that ended the season ranked #3 was a game for the ages. The defining play was made by Nittany Lions star running back Saquon Barkley who is the crown jewel of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Barkley is a generational talent that has drawn comparisons to Hall of Famers LaDainian Tomlinson and Barry Sanders. But the 2018 running back class doesn’t stop with him, it is easily the deepest and most talented position group in the draft. The question is, should the Raiders select one? Let’s look at both sides of the argument.
Draft a running back
This draft features at least five tailbacks with first round talent, and even more with second round value. But due to the devaluation of the position stemming from a pass driven league and the low shelf-life of an NFL running back, many of these players could fall significantly farther than their talent might otherwise merit.
Two halfbacks should be day one picks — Barkley and LSU RB Derrius Guice — and maybe USC’s Ronald Jones II or San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny will join them, though it would be a surprise to see four taken in the first round. That leaves at least one first round talent that could be available come day two. After that, Georgia running backs Sony Michel and Nick Chubb are day two options as well as perhaps Oregon’s Royce Freeman and Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson.
With Marshawn Lynch’s contract expiring after the upcoming season, the Raiders could draft their running back of the future now while the value is tremendous. It would also allow the rookie to learn behind one of the most dominant running backs in recent history, before taking over full duties in 2019.
Pass and address other needs
One could argue that the Silver and Black have too many holes on their roster that should be addressed before running back. With ‘Beastmode’ set to return, the Raiders have a productive starter in place to anchor their rushing attack.
As for depth, head coach Jon Gruden brought in Doug Martin to compete with Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington after both struggled this past year. Neither of the three are as talented as the running backs that will be available in the mid-rounds of the draft, but they are serviceable backups to Lynch.
Passing on the position would free up an extra pick to improve areas of crucial need such as defensive tackle and linebacker. Then the Raiders could focus their attention on the backfield in 2019 when Lynch becomes a free agent.
Should the Raiders draft a running back?
This poll is closed
Yes, first round
Yes, rounds 2-3
Yes, rounds 4-7