First round running backs the Raiders could look at

The Oakland Raiders certainly have more important needs than running back, particularly on defense. But with the departure of Latavius Murray, they are in need of an additional back to fortify the back field. Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington have proven to be quality NFL backs, but the similarity in their style means that Oakland needs someone to compliment them.

As of now, it appears that could be Marshawn Lynch for the 2017 season, but the Raiders need to be concerned about more than just next year. If they choose to go after a running back, here is the cream of the crop in the first round:

Leonard Fournette, RB
Round: First

If the Raiders are going to take a back in the first round, hopefully it’s because they were lucky enough for Leonard Fournette to fall to them for some freakish reason. There are other very talented backs with first round grades but none who are as good of a fit as Fournette would be the perfect compliment to Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington.

Fournette is an extremely physical runner who uses his size to punish defenders. Whether in the hole or in open space, Fournette delivers the hit rather than taking it. And while he’s a big bodied back, he’s a lot faster than your average back that size. At 6’ 240lbs he ran a 4.51 40 yard dash at the NFL combine.

A physical freak with immense size and athleticism, Fournette isn’t the perfect prospect. As great as his physical traits are, his intangibles need some work. In particular, Fournette doesn’t have the greatest vision and is much better when he has an obvious hole that allows him to lean on his athleticism. Luckily for the Raiders, he’d be running behind a massive offensive line who can give him the holes he needs.

Dalvin Cook, RB
Round: First

Dalvin Cook is one of the more fun backs to watch in this year’s draft if you ask me. He’s creatively elusive and make something out of nothing. He’s patient and good at reading his blockers and once he gets to the second level, he has the open field speed to leave defenders in the dust.

If you’re the type who places a high value on college production, Cook is your man. He ran for over 1,000 yards in each of his three seasons in college while also being a threat in the passing game out of the backfield.

But as explosive as Cook is, he’s also a risk. Shoulder injuries are an issue and there are concerns among many about whether his body can handle the punishment an NFL running back takes. Along with that is a concern about ball security as Cook had six fumbles last season alone. Plus, when it comes to the Raiders, he isn’t exactly the bruising back who can get the tough yards up the gut that Oakland really needs.

Christian McCaffrey, RB
Round: First

Christian McCaffrey is about as all purpose as you can get. More than just your average back, McCaffrey is a threat running the ball, catching the ball and is a weapon on special teams as a return man. His production in college was unreal. In 2016, slowed by injuries, McCaffrey had what was seen as a down year and still produced 1,600 yards running the ball.

Similar to Cook, there are concerns about whether or not McCaffrey can handle the beating that NFL running backs take game in and game out. There are also those who see all purpose weapons like McCaffrey as not the kind of back to be your workhorse. Since the Raiders already have two scat back style running backs with Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington, adding McCaffrey would make for a backfield with a rather monotony style.

McCaffrey is an extremely talented back who will likely be a huge asset as a weapon for some NFL team. But while he can do many things for you, he can’t really do what the Raiders really need a back to do: get the tough yards between the tackles. He’s not bad between the tackles, but he’s not an aggressive bruiser who can muscle his way for that crucial yard or two when needed.

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