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What to expect from Kenyan Drake at receiver?

Running back could play some WR as well

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals
Kenyan Drake
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

New Las Vegas Raiders’ running back Kenyan Drake has said on multiple occasions this offseason that he may play some wide receiver along with his usual position in 2021.

What exactly does that mean and what should we expect?

We’ll find out soon enough, of course. However, if I had to guess, I think Drake — who signed a two-year $11 million deal in free agency with Las Vegas — will primarily be a running back for the Raiders.

I believe the main reason why the Raiders signed Drake was for him to be a top-level backup for star starting running back Josh Jacobs. Drake will carry the ball a lot to keep Jacobs fresh and make him even more dangerous.

However, Raiders coach Jon Gruden has said how much he respects Drake’s game and how well he fits in his playbook. Drake is a Raider because Gruden thinks he can add a dimension to the offense.

That’s where the receiver element comes into play. I’d bet most of Drake’s receptions will come out of the backfield.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Las Vegas Raiders
Josh Jacobs
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

But certainly, there will be some alignments when Drake breaks out wide. They can do that most often when Drake and Jacobs on the field at the same time. This can be be an occasional wrinkle that should work well and be a challenge for opposing defensive coordinators.

In fact, I bet the first game the Raiders try it, it will be a big success.

So what kind of reception numbers should we expect from Drake?

He has 169 catches in his five-season NFL career with 160 catches in the past four seasons. That’s an average of 40 catches a season. Drake, who was traded by the Miami Dolphins to the Arizona Cardinals in 2019, was a bigger part of the receiving game in Miami than Arizona. He had 53 catches in 2018 for the Dolphins. In 2019, before the trade, Drake had 47 rushes and 22 catches.

In 2020, Las Vegas running backs (including fullback Alex Ingold) had 86 receptions, led by Jacobs’ 33 catches. Devontae Booker — who Drake replaces — had 17 catches. I’d expect Drake to catch more than that and challenge Jacobs for the team for receptions by a running back. It will be fun to watch this aspect of the Raiders’ offense develop this season.