The Oakland Raiders will have a bunch of draft picks to get better this offseason. This should be a draft that is deep enough to satisfy many of the Silver and Black’s biggest needs. Oakland will have three top-100 picks and several picks coming in the compensatory part of the sixth round.
One position group that the Raiders may want to use a pick on would be at running back. Last year, the Raiders did draft Elijah Hood out of North Carolina in the seventh-round, but he was mostly a practice squad player as a rookie. While the Raiders have Marshawn Lynch, Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington under contract, Oakland does not have a long-term solution at tailback.
Though some have clamored for the Silver and Black to target Penn State Nittany Lions running back Saquon Barkley in the top-10, he might be off the board as early as No. 3 to the Indianapolis Colts. One would think that Colts general manager Chris Ballard will want to give starting quarterback Andrew Luck a reliable running back to lean on for the next five years?
Simply put, the Raiders are best served to target a running back in the middle of the upcoming draft, while opting to go with a defensive player with likely their first two picks. Should the Raiders have patience and wait until the third or fourth-round, one of these dynamic collegiate tailbacks could be available for them. Maybe the guy the Raiders end up taking is the next Kareem Hunt or Alvin Kamara?
It’s almost impossible to overlook Royce Freeman‘s productivity while starring in the backfield for the Pac-12’s Oregon Ducks. He rushed for over 1,000 yards in three of his four seasons in Eugene. While he missed out on the Chip Kelly era of Ducks football by a year, Freeman was a model of consistency in an ever-changing Ducks program, one that is now on its third head coach since Kelly’s departure in 2013.
Freeman is 5-foot-11, 231 pounds. He has shown that he can be a bell-cow back with 947 career carries for 5,621 yards and 60 rushing touchdowns. Freeman is an excellent pass catcher out of the backfield with 79 career receptions for 814 yards and four touchdown grabs. Regardless of what happens at the next level, Freeman will go down as one of the greatest players in Ducks football history.
However, there is a chance he could rapidly decay at the next level due to his heavy usage in college. He did have nearly 1,000 career carries for a Ducks team that gradually became irrelevant as he became an upperclassmen. Freeman could be a productive NFL player for his first few years in the league, but he may not be for long in the NFL due to the absurd workload he took on in Eugene.
That being said, Freeman has the physicality to be a bell-cow at the next level. It may ultimately serve him to platoon with a veteran running back his first few years in the league. Backing up a guy like Lynch could make for one of the most punishing rushing attacks in the AFC. The only concerns with Freeman are why he didn’t enter the draft last year and how much will he have in the tank in the NFL?