When the Las Vegas Raiders drafted Zamir White in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL draft, the instant and prevailing thought was that the Georgia product was selected to be the primary tailback as soon as in 2023.
After all, despite other draft needs and a modest cache of draft picks, the Raiders traded up to select White. It came a day after the franchise declined the fifth-year (2023) option on starting running back Josh Jacobs, the No. 24 overall pick in the 2019 draft.
However, now, just before White’s second season, it is far from a sure thing he will have a big role this season. Let’s look at some key aspects of White’s status going into this season:
It’s all about Jacobs:
If the Raiders drafted White to be the starter this year, Jacobs spoiled that plan as he led the NFL with 1,653 rushing yards in 2022. In hindsight, the Raiders probably wish they did give Jacobs the fifth-year option. It would have been cheaper than if he plays on the franchise tag this year. At some point, Jacobs will given either sign his franchise tender or sign a long-term deal. (If that happens White will likely never be the Raiders’ starter). Even though Jacobs sat out the offseason and mandatory minicamp, he very likely will not hold out all season even though there was a recent report that stated Jacobs may hold out into the season. But he may stay away some from training camp, which would give White more reps to go with the reps he got in the offseason. But, still, expect Jacobs to be the primary tailback in Las Vegas this season.
Still, there may be room for White:
There has been media speculation that the Raiders will use White more this season that they did last year.
It’s surely reasonable to think the Raiders will want to start seeing production from their draft pick. But the reality is Jacobs will be making more than $10 million if his plays on the franchise tag this season. So, Las Vegas will likely want to use him a lot, especially if they are concerned that this could be his last season in Las Vegas, So, I’m not sure if we will see White, who was a punishing runner in the SEC who overcame two torn ACLs in college, get a major uptick in opportunities this season if Jacobs stays healthy.
His rookie season:
Raiders’ coach Josh McDaniels often didn’t use rookie running back much in New England and that trend continued in Las Vegas last season. Jacobs had 70 yards on 17 carries as a rookie.
Likely 2023 plan:
Assuming Jacobs reports in time and stays on the field (he played a full season for the first time in 2022 after missing a total of six games in his first three NFL seasons), he will be getting the vast majority of the carries. But I would expect the Raiders to have confidence in White if they need to use him more.
Are you confident Zamir White will be a major part of the Raiders offense at some point?
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