Aug 15, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray (28) is defended by Detroit Lions defensive tackle Andre Fluellen (96) at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Position: Running Back
Old Players: Maurice Jones-Drew (29) and Darren McFadden (27)
Young Player: Latavius Murray (24)
In the NFL, running backs do not have a particularly long shelf life. At the age of 29, Maurice-Jones Drew is set to be one of the oldest starting running backs in the league this year. Darren McFadden, at 27, has suffered a continuous string of injuries since he was drafted in 2008, and is on a one-year deal. Not only are there question marks regarding each back’s future with the team in coming years, there are questions regarding their ability to even finish the 2014 season.
Enter Latavius Murray. Murray, a 2013 6th round pick out of Central Florida, missed his rookie campaign after being placed on IR at the end of the preseason. With almost a full year to recover, Murray entered camp this year ready and energized and easily won the #3 running back spot with excellent preseason play both as a runner and returner. Murray, at 6’3″ and 225, was clocked at a 4.38 in the 40 yard dash at his pro day in 2013, and also bench pressed 225 pounds 22 times – a stellar mark for a running back. Murray performed well this preseason, carrying the ball 23 times for 94 yards and a score. Given the start in the fourth preseason game against Seattle, he bullied Seattle’s starting defenders early on, gaining 41 yards on 8 carries and scoring the Raiders first touchdown of the game. On the Raiders first drive, Murray bullied and overpowered Seahawks All-Pro safety Earl Thomas on three occasions, including running him over at the goal line on the scoring play. Murray is a bigger, stronger Darren McFadden with nearly equivalent speed who has shown flashes of big-play ability and can also contribute as a returner.
Behind an offensive line that is built to run the football, especially with a quarterback who an keep defenses from stacking the box too heavily, Murray can be every bit as effective as a healthy McFadden and Jones-Drew. At only 24, in his first real NFL season, Murray seems to have many productive years in front of him if he remains healthy.