Every year, hundreds of undrafted free agents enter the NFL. Very few of them latch onto a prominent position on an NFL team, but every now and then a team finds a diamond in the rough. That was the case when the Raiders signed small, speedy running back Jalen Richard out of Southern Miss a few years ago. He scored on a 75-yard touchdown run in his first regular season game as a pro against the Saints and has held on to the Raiders’ primary third-down pass-catching back ever since, with spot duty as the team’s starting running back on occasion when injuries decimated the positional group.
The main knock on Richard has been his slight frame, which limits his effectiveness running between the tackles. It’s the reason his role has been so defined. But with the Raiders’ starting running back job in the hands of a rookie, Josh Jacobs, it behooves the Raiders to have as many useful backs as possible.
To that end, Richard noted on Twitter that he has put on a considerable amount of weight this offseason.
Last year I played between 210-212 ... just a FYI !— Jalen Richard (@RocketRich30) June 25, 2019
And how much does he weigh now?
Like 218— Jalen Richard (@RocketRich30) June 25, 2019
Before you think Richard sat around eating Flamin’ Hot Cheetos to put on that weight, let’s see a recent picture of him training.
Not only does Richard look totally jacked, it would appear he has also gained the ability to breathe underwater. This could come in useful when the Raiders travel to London, where the weather has a tendency to get rainy.
In all seriousness, Richard’s new heft is a great sign for the Raiders. Josh Jacobs, while dynamic at Alabama, always shared the backfield with several other good running backs and never had the kind of workload a top running back in the NFL usually has. Any sort of help Richard can provide as far as between the tackles bruising running would be welcome. The Raiders do still have Doug Martin, but he’s 30 years old, and Chris Warren III is a total wildcard while DeAndre Washington has been maddeningly inconsistent.
It’s Richard who realistically should be counted on to step up and be the primary backup to Jacobs, and he can’t do that at 210 pounds. 218 is a much different story, particularly if that is mainly muscle mass. It’s quite difficult to put on that much muscle in a matter of months, but if the man can ride a bike underwater without drowning then he can pack on the pounds in a short period of time. The Raiders’ running back group will be one to watch when training camp opens next month, and luckily we can all see it unfold on Hard Knocks.