Projected Starter: Darren McFadden
Before last season began a lot of folks were floating the dirty ‘bust’ word around about McFadden. By the end of the year a lot of those same people were complaining that Run DMC didn’t make the AFC’s Pro Bowl roster.
What a difference a healthy year makes.
McFadden was everything Al Davis dreamed of and then some. From his destruction of the Donkeys to the highlight reel in Jacksonville, McFadden carried this team at times. There is no doubt that when healthy McFadden is one of the most explosive players in pro football. With Hue Jackson at the helm of the offense the Oakland running game gave the Raiders a definite identity with McFadden as the face of the franchise.
McFadden’s Stock Rating: A+
Backup: Michael Bush
These days you’ve got to have a running back tandem in the NFL. Few teams enjoy the luxury of having two runners as dynamic as McFadden and Bush. The combo of McFadden’s speed and elusiveness matched with Bush’s size and downhill style made for some long afternoons for opposing defenses.
While McFadden enjoyed his healthiest season as a pro he still missed a couple contests due to a hamstring issue. Without Run DMC the Raiders didn’t miss a beat thanks to the efforts of Bush. His 100-yard game helped to finally stop the Charger losing streak which was a major turning point for the Silver and Black in 2010.
Bush’s Stock Rating: A
Potential Draft Picks: DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma; Mario Fannin, Auburn
Depending on how the new CBA shakes out the Raiders could be pitted with the issue of losing Michael Bush in free agency. In that case Davis could be tempted to use his first pick on a running back. If so the Raiders could land Oklahoma runner DeMarco Murray in the second round. Murray’s size and speed are ideal for what Davis desires.
Of course if getting a Bush replacement isn’t such a priority Davis could always wait it out to land a guy like Auburn’s Mario Fannin in one of the late rounds. Fannin had a disappointing senior year at Auburn but his 4.38 40 at the combine will be hard for Davis to ignore. There is a good chance Fannin can be had as late as the 7th round.
Silver and Black Running Back Stock Rating: A
Make no mistake the Raiders are a running team. As the running game goes the rest of the squad will follow. A healthy Darren McFadden paired with Michael Bush makes for one of the most dynamic combos in all of football. It’s no coincidence that the emergence of Run DMC coincided with the best season of Raider football in nearly a decade. His skill set is among the most unique in all of the NFL and his partner Bush is a highly sought after commodity around the league. If the Raiders are going to get back to the playoffs then it will be done on the legs of McFadden and Bush.