Oakland Raiders 2017 NFL Draft Prospect: RB Wayne Gallman
By Austin Gayle
The Oakland Raiders could soon be in need of a replacement for Latavius Murray, and Clemson RB Wayne Gallman is an intriguing option.
Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray, the Silver and Black’s go-to back over the last two seasons, is now expected to test the free agent market come March 9, leaving the Raiders no choice but to seek out his replacement this offseason.
Though “the door will remain open” for Murray’s return to Oakland, the Raiders will not be able to afford the Murray that walks back through their door after he sees the dollar figures thrown his way this offseason.
Combining for 1,854 yards and 18 touchdowns as the Raiders’ lead back in 2015 and 2016, Murray should draw an annual salary north of $6 million.
With that, Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie simply won’t have enough chips in his pile to match Murray’s outside offers, especially with quarterback Derek Carr and defensive end Khalil Mack’s blockbuster deals on the loom.
McKenzie could turn to casino magnate Sheldon Adelson for some extra cash, but something tells me he won’t extend his hand towards the Raiders organization.
Jokes aside, Murray’s departure won’t leave the Raiders’ backfield dry of any talent, as rookie DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard are still expected to step into big roles as sophomores. However, standing at 5-foot-8-inches, both backs are far from big themselves, meaning they’re best utilized within a committee behind a big, powerful bell-cow at the top of the depth chart.
Fortunately for McKenzie and the Raiders, there are plenty of bell-cow backs in this year’s draft class, including premier bruisers like LSU’s Leonard Fournette, Texas’ D’Onta Freeman and BYU’s Jamaal Williams.
Sitting in a tier below the bullies above stands former Clemson back Wayne Gallman, a valuable late Day 2 or early Day 3 selection with significant upside.
In 42 career games (37 starts) with the Tigers, Gallman carried the ball 676 times for 3,429 yards (5.07 yards per carry) and 34 touchdowns, finishing third in Clemson history in rushing touchdowns and fifth in rushing yards, per the team’s official site. He also added 65 receptions for 473 yards and two touchdowns.
Gallman earned his fair share of praise from ACC coaches for his efforts, too. He earned first-team All-ACC honors in 2015 and second-team All-ACC as a junior in 2016 before forgoing his final season at Clemson. He also was announced as a Strength and Conditioning All-American and the Strength Training Dedication award winner in 2016, which bodes well for his measurables.
Standing at 6-feet, 210 pounds, Gallman will need to add some weight to his longer frame, but he still possesses desirable height for an every-down back at the next level.
Unlike other bigger, lengthy backs, Gallman still flashes impressive quickness and burst after he makes his cut to the lane, and his top-end speed should also impress scouts at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Gallman’s strengths all boil down to his physical, high-effort approach to the running back position, as his relentless motor paired with notable toughness sets him apart from a majority of the bigger backs entering this year’s draft.
Even when Gallman isn’t carrying the football, his effort stands out on his tape.
After leaking out to the left on a dummy route, Gallman is seen here racing to get in front of the receiver after the screen pass to lay block.
It’s hard not to like that level of effort.
When running through contact, Gallman continues to churn his feet through the echo of the whistle regardless of where he is on the field, often leading to extra yards. He will also break out a strong shoulder boom or a well-placed stiff arm to push defenders to their backs in the open field.
Here’s a taste of Gallman’s powerful presence both through arm tackles and in the open field.
As expected, Gallman’s brawler mentality translates well to short-yardage and goal-to-go situations, for even if his initial surge into the brick wall didn’t work, he would find ways to hit again, harder.
Gallman also looks the part of a natural pass-catcher out of the backfield, as he often bailed out Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson on shorter routes near the line of scrimmage and was sometimes to the go-to target on shorter screen passes and flares.
Here, Gallman flows with Watson to left side of the field to appear open near the line of scrimmage. He then takes the pass for extra yards after a series of eye-catching broken tackles.
Though he isn’t the prototypical home-run hitter, Gallman is a big play waiting to happen, and even if he doesn’t break off a big play, he will wear down NFL defenses with big collisions in succession.
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Working against Gallman is his below average instincts. Though he is decisive in his lane choice, he can sometimes make the wrong decision too quickly when asked to read a crowd of defenders on interior runs. He will opt to lower his shoulder through a sea of defenders down the middle and hope for the best over finding the better lane, a sign that he may have too much confidence in his ability to bowl over defenses.
Additionally, Gallman can sometimes make contact with his defender without lowering his pad level, giving his opponent the better leverage, and therefore, the ability to bring him to the ground. His upright running style also gives defenses more surface area to get their paws, often forcing him to take on unnecessary contact.
In pass protection, Gallman is a high-effort blocker with every intention of taking his intended target’s head off with one deafening blow, but, to no surprise, he sometimes misses his man. He must learn to refine his technique and settle behind the line of scrimmage before making a play on his opponent to hold his block for a longer duration.
Next: Raiders Ultimate Offseason Primer
Gallman will make whichever NFL team takes him off the board very happy, but he won’t be worth the risk until the third round mainly because of the surplus of running back talent in this year’s class. With that being said, the Raiders could very well come away from Day 2 with the steal of the draft if they make him one of their selections.
Stepping into Murray’s shoes, Gallman would impress early in his career when given an opportunity to split time with Washington and Richard in the Raiders’ backfield, releasing a youthful, explosive three-headed monster in Oakland.