The Las Vegas Raiders added some versatility to their running back group and it should be one of the strengths of the team in 2020.
The Las Vegas Raiders knew they needed to add some weapons to Derek Carr's arsenal in their inaugural season in Sin City and in addition to the receivers they drafted, they also added some running backs to an already talented group.
Let's take a look at the 2019 season at running back for the Raiders, which backs left and who was signed, and what the depth chart looks like after the 2020 NFL Draft.
One of the strengths of the Las Vegas Raiders in 2019 was the running backs group thanks to the great play of Josh Jacobs in his debut season, the versatility of Jalen Richard as a receiving threat, and DeAndre Washington's ability to step in to the starting role when called upon. Fullback Alec Ingold did his fair share of damage in his rookie season as well and displayed a knack for catching passes out of the backfield and getting first downs in short yardage situations.
Josh Jacobs was by far the star of the group with this 1150 yards and 7 touchdowns in 13 games but he fought through a shoulder injury suffered early in the season so we have not even seen him at his best. He also did not make much of an impact as a receiver but showed the same dynamism when was used in that fashion so that is an area of his game he can build on.
Jalen Richard was the primary receiving threat out of the backfield and was used primarily as a third down back. Richard is one of Derek Carr's favorite targets and his talent for pass blocking has seen him lined up in the backfield on obvious passing downs.
DeAndre Washington stepped in to the starting role when Josh Jacobs was held out for three games with the aforementioned shoulder injury. Washington performed admirably and was a driving force in the Week 15 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. He is equally adept as Richard as a receiving back and had a career year in terms of total yards from scrimmage.
Alec Ingold was used primarily as a blocking back but was able to make an impact when he had the ball in his hands. Ingold had only 10 rushing attempts and 6 receptions in 2019 but accounted for 11 first downs and a touchdown with his limited touches. He may see an expanded role in 2020 after he's had a full offseason to further absorb the playbook.
Rod Smith was on the roster for three games in 2019 and recorded no offensive stats but did force a fumble on special teams.
Additions and Subtractions
The only departure from the 2019 Las Vegas Raiders running back group was veteran back DeAndre Washington. After 4 years with the Silver and Black, Washington signed a one-year deal to join his former college quarterback at Texas Tech, Patrick Mahomes. Washington is not a lock to make the roster in a crowded running back room so he may be on another team once the 2020 season kicks off.
Prior to the draft the Raiders made two additions to the running back group, bringing back Rod Smith after his cameo appearance in the last few games of the season and signing CFL standout William Stanback to a reserve/futures contract. We know all about Rod Smith but Stanback is an interesting player who was one of the CFL's leading rushers in 2019 with 1,048 yards in just 14 games.
In the draft the Raiders selected a Swiss army knife out of University of Kentucky in Lynn Bowden, Jr. Bowden played all over the field for the Wildcats including slot receiver, running back, and even quarterback. He was chosen as a running back per GM Mike Mayock but will be featured all over the field if he can absorb the playbook given his versatility.
After the draft the Raiders signed former Denver Broncos running back Devontae Booker to a one-year deal for $1 million contract that has just $50,000 guaranteed. Booker was a fourth round pick by Denver in 2016 and after starting 6 games his rookie season, has seen his snap counts dwindle every year. He had just 8 touches in 2019 and was used almost exclusively on special teams.
Post-Draft Depth Chart
There will not be much change here as Josh Jacobs comes in to the 2020 season as the unquestioned feature back for the Las Vegas Raiders. Jacobs had one of the best rookie campaigns for a back in Raiders history but they would do well to not lean on him quite as much in 2020 to keep him fresh for what they hope is a playoff push.
Jalen Richard remains firmly entrenched as the third down back due to his pass blocking and receiving ability so his role remains unchanged. Alec Ingold is included here though his designation as a fullback guarantees him a starting spot at one of Jon Gruden's favorite positions.
The Raiders ended the 2019 season with 4 running backs and a fullback so if we assume the same for 2020, here is what the depth chart looks like after the 2020 NFL Draft.
- Josh Jacobs
- Lynn Bowden, Jr.
- Jalen Richard
- Lynn Bowden
- Rod Smith
- William Stanback
- Alec Ingold (FB)
Jacobs, Richard, and Bowden are all but guaranteed to make the roster so that leaves one spot for Smith, Booker, and Stanback to duke it out over. We can expect Stanback to be stashed on the practice squad unless he absolutely lights it up in preseason.
Both Smith and Booker have shown they can handle a starting role and contribute on special teams so it will just be a matter of what type of back Jon Gruden wants to complement Richard and Jacobs. The big bruising back in Smith or Booker who has a similar build to starter Josh Jacobs.
The Raiders focused on building up the weapons around Derek Carr and will go in to the 2020 season with a strong and versatile running back group no matter who ends up making the final roster.