How to make Christian McCaffrey work for the Raiders

Yesterday, I wrote about how Christian McCaffrey was not a good fit for the Oakland Raiders. This despite the fact that they could use another back and despite the fact that I and many others believe he will be a valuable weapon at the next level.

But as I explained, while McCaffrey is a great talent, he’s one that matches very closely to what the Raiders already have in Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington. I think at this point it would appear that McCaffrey is a much more talented back than either Richard or Washington, but that doesn’t change the fact that adding him to the Silver and Black would be rather redundant.

But if he falls to them at 24, they would have the chance to add a huge and versatile weapon to their already potent offense. And a weapon that in most years would likely be gone well before 24. But with two other very talented backs likely to go in the first round with Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook, the Raiders could find themselves with a chance at drafting a guy who in other years could be a top 10 to 15 pick.

Should they pass because of the current roster makeup or do they take him because he’s a clear upgrade?

If they take him, they will have to do something about having three backs with nearly identical skill sets. How do they do that? It’s a two part process. (Note: I do not discuss Marshawn Lynch because as I have written before, whatever happens with him should not change the Raiders draft strategy)

FIRST, you start by trading either Washington or Richard. Ideally, you do it during the draft in order to get another pick in this year’s deep class. Richard had the more impressive rookie season but Washington was the guy the Raiders tabbed as the far superior player when they drafted him. I would likely hang onto Richard myself but it’s far from being an obvious or easy choice. One year is too short a time period to really analyze either guy. For all we know, they could flip with Washington being amazing in 2017 and Richard being good but not great.

SECOND, you still need a bruising back who can get tough yards between the tackles on short yardage downs. Hopefully, the Raiders will have obtained an additional pick in the mid to late rounds where they can do just that. Yes, I just suggested the Raiders draft TWO running backs this year. But if you’re going to bring in McCaffrey as your number one back, you need to fix the changes that brings about to the backfield. By trading Richard or Washington, at least you technically only use one of your original eight picks on a back.

At the end of the day, it seems like drafting McCaffrey likely requires too many changes to the roster to be worthwhile. But if Reggie McKenzie and company believe McCaffrey is a once in a generation talent, you do what you have to in order to get him on your team.

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