Oakland Raiders Free Agent Acquisitions By the Numbers

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Nov 30, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Washington Redskins running back Roy Helu Jr. (29) scores a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Roy Helu – Running Back

Helu is a guy I honestly had never heard of before he signed with the Raiders. But lucky for us, the people at PFF know everything about every player in the NFL. If Helu can cross the line of scrimmage, and fall forward when given the ball he will be an incredible upgrade to Maurice Jones-Drew.

Jones-Drew was once one of the best running backs in the NFL, but an injury at the peak of his powers brought his career to a slow, painful stop. MJD showed some flashes of greatness in the preseason last year, but wasn’t able to get anything going in the regular season. His counterpart, life long Raider, Darren McFadden was also rendered ineffective last season. McFadden was able to play in all 16 games for the first time in his career, and the amount of fire he ran with last season was great to see.

I think McFadden realized that the once mind blowing speed he possessed had faded away due to the years of foot injuries he suffered. He wasn’t trying to out run defenders to the edge and turn the corner like he did in his most productive seasons, instead he was taking them head on. Showing a fight I had never seen in him before.

But as it turns out, Darren McFadden isn’t a bull dozer type of runner, he wasn’t able to get through defenders after the initial contact and only threatened to break off a big run a few times last season.

So, here’s the breakdown of Helu v McFadden (MJD didn’t play enough snaps to qualify)

Roy Helu:

  • Overall Position Rank: 22nd
  • Overall Grade: +.3
  • Receiving: +1.9 (14th overall)
  • Run: +1.8 (22nd overall)
  • Blocking: -3.4(49th overall)
  • Elusive Rating: 108.6 (4th overall)
  • Breakaway %: 44.4% (12th overall)

Darren McFadden

  • Overall Position Rank: 53rd
  • Overall Grade: -8.3
  • Receiving: +.6 (24th overall)
  • Run: -6.1 (53rd overall)
  • Blocking: -.8 (34th overall)
  • Elusive Rating: 16.6 (113th overall)
  • Breakaway %: 13.6% (90th overall)

It should be noted that Helu played an exceptionally fewer number of snaps than McFadden, and his stats could be a bit over inflated for the same reason Latavius Murray’s numbers look inflated. (Murray’s breakaway % is 53.3%, a completely unreasonable number for a feature back)

Statistically speaking, Helu appears to be an incredible upgrade over McFadden. Even though some of his stats are a bit inflated due to a small sample size. You can’t argue with production, Helu seems to make his mark making catches in the flat for positive yardage.

Helu was targeted last season 44 times on pass plays, making 42 receptions for 490 yards. To put it simply, he averages a first down every time he catches the ball. He earned more reception yards that entire Raider backfield combined las year, on a fraction of the touches. Helu seems to be a pretty efficient back.

I may be in the minority here, but I believe Latavius Murray should be the feature back of the Raiders. He showed such big play potential last season that just him being on the field improved every aspect of the offense because defenses couldn’t ignore the run any more. There should be some good competition between the two this year in camp, and since many people don’t believe Murray is ready to be a feature back, him and Helu could make for a solid tandem in the back field. Add Marcel Reece into the mix, and the Raiders running game should be dangerous next year.

Next: FA By the Numbers