After spending the 24th overall pick on Josh Jacobs in April’s draft there is little doubt who the Raiders are expecting to lead this year’s stable of runners. Behind Jacobs, Doug Martin is cemented as the number two running back and Jalen Richard’s role as receiving back should be safe after a very productive 2018 campaign.
Should the Raiders decide to keep four running backs on the roster the battle for the final spot figures to be between two men:
DeAndre Washington vs Chris Warren III
Washington is entering his fourth year with the Raiders. Through his first three seasons the 5th round draft pick has totaled 735 yards rushing on 174 attempts and 321 yards receiving with 51 receptions.
If you want to make a case for Washington to be on the roster a good place to start would be his versatility. He has dual threat ability as a runner and pass catcher out of the backfield, something Gruden covets in his running backs. Washington has also demonstrated abilities to play special teams.
The primary issue for Washington is Jalen Richard. Both are smaller backs with similar skill sets, Washington has not been able to separate himself from his backfield mate. Richard caught 68 balls in 2018 as the primary third down and passing situation back. Last season, Gruden expressed his admiration for Richard comparing him to former Raiders running back, Charlie Garner.
Washington could be an insurance policy to Richard should an injury occur but that might not be reason enough to keep him on the 53.
Chris Warren III made a name for himself during last year’s preseason when he led the NFL in rushing. A clip of Warren went viral during training camp when during joint practices with the Detroit Lions, Warren truck sticked linebacker Jarrad Davis.
Warren is a bruiser, weighing in around the 250 pound mark. Sure it was only the preseason but Warren III definitely showed he has the ability to make an NFL roster. The Raiders felt so strongly about him that although he didn’t make the 53 man roster last summer he was stashed on the season ending IR with a knee injury.
He is unique when compared with the other backs vying for a roster spot. He could be used in short yardage and goal-line situations, ala former Gruden grinders Zach Crockett or Mike Alstott.
An area of concern with Warren is that he is more of a one trick pony. Because of his size and physicality he often wants to run through defenders. He needs to show he has enough speed to get to the edge along with being tough between the tackles.
It was reported back in February that Warren had ballooned up to 270 pounds, if true hopefully he has gotten himself back into playing shape as training camp quickly approaches.
Both Washington and Warren III will get plenty of opportunities throughout training camp and preseason. The battle for the fourth running back spot is one of the more intriguing storylines to follow during training camp.