Given how new Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels has traditionally utilized running backs in his offense, it wasn’t much of a surprise that Las Vegas declined the fifth-year option on Josh Jacobs‘ contract last week.
Then the Raiders drafted a pair of running backs on Day Three, taking Georgia’s Zamir White in the fourth round and UCLA’s Brittain Brown in the seventh round.
At the end of the draft on Saturday, G.M. Dave Ziegler said selecting White and Brown was a “product of how the board fell.”
“If it would have been different, if there was other players there, if it would have been two tight ends or two receivers that happened to be there who we thought were the best available at the time, we would have taken those players, too,” Ziegler said. “But again, you can never have enough good players at any one position. We’ve talked about it from the beginning, we want to build depth in competition. That’s going to be a very important part of this program. It was an opportunity to take some swings and add two good players that happened to be at the running back position.”
McDaniels noted the Raiders will usually have six or seven running backs for training camp. Ziegler added that with the physical nature of the position, it’s worth having options.
“I think what we look at when we evaluate every position … there’s different roles to be filled,” Ziegler said. “You have sub-running backs. You have change-of-pace running backs. You have first- and second-down running backs.
“There’s different roles and there’s going to be competition for those roles, so however that ends up kind of filling out it fills out. We have a lot of talented players there, and so we always want everybody to compete. Everybody — we want to have that mentality that they’re competing for a spot and are motivated to compete for playing time and things of that nature, and running back will be no different.”
Last year, Jacobs led the Raiders with 872 yards rushing and nine touchdowns. He also caught 54 passes for 348 yards. Drake took 63 carries for 254 yards with a pair of TDs, also catching 30 passes for 291 yards.