The Oakland Raiders may have rushed for 100 yards as a team in three of their first five games of the 2017 NFL season, but they could honestly use another running back heading into next year’s draft. This isn’t really a detriment to the guys currently in Oakland, but the crop of tailbacks in the 2018 NFL Draft class is loaded.
For the Raiders to have success in the coming years with Derek Carr as their starting quarterback, they will need to have a more balanced offense. They would need another playmaker in the backfield for sure. Whether that guy is your prototypical bell-cow or a scat back, that’s entirely up to the Raiders on who they might take.
While the position has been elevated in recent drafts thanks to elite college players like Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott going in the top-10, there is value to be had in the middle rounds of this upcoming NFL Draft. Oakland could absolutely find a Pro Bowl level talent in rounds two to four in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Admittedly, running back is not a primary need for the Raiders in the upcoming draft. It’s seen as a secondary need behind the front-seven, cornerback and maybe a swing tackle. There are plenty of great backs that will be available in this draft. Here are 10 listed in alphabetical order that could work for the Raiders in 2018.
Though the Arizona State Sun Devils are one of the more forgettable teams in the Pac-12 this year, they do have an NFL running back on their roster in senior Kalen Ballage. At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, he could be a bruising rotational running back for a long time.
His college numbers aren’t overly impressive, but he does have 363 carries for 1,601 rushing yards and 25 rushing touchdowns through Week 6 of the 2017 NCAA season. Ballage is a capable pass catcher with 72 receptions for 646 yards and two touchdowns. He might be a sound value pick in the fourth or fifth round on day three of the draft.
Depending on how the rest of the season shakes out, Penn State Nittany Lions junior running back Saquon Barkley may not just be a Heisman Trophy winner, but a first-round pick in the upcoming draft. Taking a running back in the first round may not be what Oakland wants to do, but it’s hard to overlook Barkley’s productivity in the Big Ten.
He has 556 career carries for 3,221 yards and 31 rushing touchdowns. As a receiver, Barkley has 77 career receptions for 958 yards and seven touchdowns. The only real concern with Barkley might be his size. He is only 5-foot-11, 228 pounds, but he might be much smaller than that at the scouting combine in Indianapolis.