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Raiders Outlook 2023: Sincere McCormick’s downhill running style gives him a fighting chance

A productive workhorse in college, undrafted free agent’s toughness and ability to catch and block can draw attention

NCAA Football: Conference USA Championship Game-Western Kentucky vs Texas-San Antonio
Sincere McCormick displayed a strong running style that welcomes and goes through contact at UTSA. That downhill style along with his willingness to block in pass protection should draw attention in Las Vegas Raiders training camp.
Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

A torn ACL for an undrafted free agent can often be the end of the line for said NFL hopeful. When Sincere McCormick was shelved by the Las Vegas Raiders in late May after the running back suffered that injury, it appeared he would be on the same path.

Yet, even with a crowded backfield, McCormick finds himself a Raider once more and this offseason, it’s the University of Texas at San Antonio to prove he does belong in the NFL after an illustrious collegiate career.

The 5-foot-9 and 205-pounder’s downhill power running gives McCormick a fighting chance. He’s not the fastest tailback according to times speed — a 4.61 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in 2022 — but McCormick is a stout and strong runner who blends balance and power. He can drive through arm tackles and often falls forward to gain more yardage.

To say McCormick was productive at UTSA is an understatement.

His three-year stint produced Conference USA honors and earned him national attention as he churned out 3,929 yards on 724 carries (a robust 5.4 yards per carry average) and 34 touchdowns on the ground and hauled in 66 passes for 509 yards and one score. His junior year in 2021 saw McCormick gallop for 1,479 yards and 15 end zone trips on 298 carries.

The 22-year-old is accustomed to a heavy workload and with this ACL injury behind him, McCormick is presented with the opportunity to make his mark on the Raiders coaching staff. Offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi spoke of the second-year tailback earlier this offseason noting McCormick picked up the playbook, progressing and healthy. And he’s sporting the No. 47, that once belonged to another hard-charging power back Tyrone Wheatley.

“Anytime a player obviously gets an injury like that where they’re out a long time, you hope they come back and hope they can perform the way they want to perform. And I think Sincere has not only done that, but he’s done a great job of just learning the playbook and coming out there,” Lombardi said of McCormick during the Raiders’ mandatory minicamp back in early June. “He’s gotten some reps too, probably reps he wouldn’t have gotten as a rookie before.”

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 02 UNLV at UTSA
UTSA’s Sincere McCormick bursts through an arm tackle attempt by UNLV during an October 2, 2021 contest. McCormick has the power and toughness to run through arm tackles.
Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

An undrafted rookie hoping to find a role on a team that is stocked as the position group isn’t always an ideal situation. What’s helping McCormick is the fact that usual-bell cow halfback Josh Jacobs is absent at training camp and thus, opens snaps for the rest of the running back room. That group consists of 2022 NFL Draft picks Zamir White (fourth round) and Brittain Brown (seventh round), veterans Brandon Bolden and Ameer Abdullah, and UDFA Austin Walter. If you include Jacobs, that’s a total of seven running backs on the Raiders 90-man roster and that number will be dwindled when teams must shave the numbers down to the regular season 53-man squad.

So from now until cut day, McCormick must make an impression, be available and healthy, willing to do what ever the team asks, and productive. While he’s shown he can be a three-down back in college, proving he can do the same in the NFL is a different beast altogether. While he did show toughness and willingness to block and be a dependable receiver at UTSA, McCormick will need to accelerate his thought process and timing to be a dependable pass protector at the pro level.

McCormick must also show he can make decisions quickly as a ballcarrier and not require a clean path to gain yards. With bigger and faster defenders in the NFL, clarity isn’t always available snap to snap so McCormick must prove he can be patient find the crease, and accelerate through it. Having power and great lower body strength is a tremendous trait, but being able to following blockers, bide your time, and make snap decisions along with strength and balance is what makes for a productive NFL back. And that’s what will separate McCormick from the pack.

But there are few as productive as McCormick when it’s clicking. He stays low and and is comfortable operating between the tackles. He isn’t afraid to step up and challenge incoming rushers in pass protection. And he only gets better with every carry as he’s a wear-them-down type running back.

And it’s that puncher’s chance that could potentially pave the way for the tailback to crack the backend of Las Vegas’ roster or make the practice squad.