Given that new Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels has traditionally used running backs in his offense, it was hardly surprising that Las Vegas turned down the fifth-year option on Josh Jacobs‘ contract last week.
Then the Raiders drafted a pair of running backs on Day 3, 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, general manager Dave Ziegler said the selection of White and Brown was “a product of the board’s downfall.”
“If it had been different, if there had been other players there, if there had been two tight ends or two receivers that were there that we thought were the best available at the time, we would have taken those players as well,” Ziegler said. “But again, you can never have enough good players in one position. We’ve been talking about it from the start, we want to build depth in competition. That’s going to be a very important part of this program. That was the opportunity to take a few swings and add two good players who were running back.
McDaniels noted that the Raiders will typically 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 each position…there are different roles to fill,” Ziegler said. “You have submarine rears. You have running backs changing pace. You have first and second running backs.
“There are different roles and there will be competition for those roles, so whatever it is, it eventually fills up. We have a lot of talented players there, so we always want everyone to compete. Everybody – we want to have this mentality that they’re competing for a spot and are motivated to compete for playing time and things of that nature, and the running back will be no different.
Last year, Jacobs led the Raiders with 872 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. He also caught 54 passes for 348 yards. Drake made 63 carries for 254 yards with a pair of touchdowns, also catching 30 passes for 291 yards.