Running back is a position discussed on Twitter to the point of exhaustion. A few pundits want them taken from the earth because they value excitement to see more points on the board.
Health is the concern when it comes to running backs. Josh Jacobs' fifth-year option is close to becoming a decision for the Las Vegas Raiders front office, and he has missed games every season. Josh McDaniels gave his thoughts on the position on Monday, mentioning health at both media sessions with reporters.
"That's a position that's hard to stay healthy, it just is," McDaniels said. "They touch the ball more than everybody but the quarterback, and they get hit more than anybody. We have a couple guys that are rehabbing now and so to have depth in that room is important."
While it may seem McDaniels is lower on Jacobs, when you dive into his draft history, Jacobs is his ideal running back. Former third-round pick Damien Harris and Jacobs have almost identical athletic profiles.
It points to the importance of depth in a position where it is plentiful in free agency and the draft.
The New England Patriots have always had depth at the running back position. New Raiders running back Brandon Boldin was the fourth RB in New England for years and would help out when players went down in front of him. The Raiders' defense in 2020 allowed JJ Taylor to have a huge game when McDaniels adjusted his game plan.
The draft in 2022 is full of running backs who can help rosters on day one. The top guys in the draft will go the earliest, but with the silver and black not picking until late day two, there are gems available at the position.
Late round running backs stir the conversation about the position's value. Plenty of solid players don't hear their name during the draft weekend. Aaron Jones is an example of a player falling through the cracks and becoming a key cog in Green Bay's offense.
However, since 2012 the Patriots' running-back draft selections were either in the third or fourth round. While undrafted free agents have joined them every season, the drafting of quality backs usually falls off after the fourth round.
The 2022 NFL draft has many running backs that could help offenses immediately. One of the players who had a strong senior season but no draft Buzz is Brian Robinson from Alabama. Waiting for his turn to become a starter helped Alabama return to the National Championship game.
I love how Brian Robinson sets up blocks. He uses his eyes to get 22 to commit to a gap and cuts to the other. Big gain. pic.twitter.com/tLsRRF1AmC— Marcus Johnson (@TheMarcJohnNFL) March 29, 2022
Robinson finished with 1343 yards rushing on 5.0 YPA with 14 touchdowns for the Crimson Tide. He dominated vs. Cincinnati in the first round of the playoffs accumulating 204 yards on the ground and forcing 12 missed tackles. The Alabama running back forced 79 on the season, according to PFF. He is a direct fit for the power run system of Erhardt-Perkins and could ease the weight off Jacobs in four-minute situations.
The Player who fits the profile ideally is Dameon Pierce from Florida. The Florida Gator running back ran for 13 touchdowns on just 100 attempts with 5.7 YPA.
Pierce has a serious burst. See his ability to create on this run vs Georgia pic.twitter.com/bSdWu0WYoj— Marcus Johnson (@TheMarcJohnNFL) March 30, 2022
Pierce is a dynamic back who can create on his own. At 5'10 215, he is exactly what McDaniels is looking for in an RB prospect. He also adds a pass-blocking element with his ability to pick up rushers from the second level. His SEC pedigree and not having a heavy load in college could lead to hearing his name on day two or three.
These are just a few of the options in the draft for the Raiders. With the timetable on Kenyon Drake’s return to the field not known at this time, it could be the position we hear in round three or four.