Currently, amid a solid season for the Las Vegas Raiders, Josh Jacobs has had a strange year in many ways. First, it was a contract dispute that kept him out for most of training camp.
When he returned on a one-year deal, he struggled to find the same level of success he achieved last season when he led the league in rushing yards and made an All-Pro team.
Under interim head coach Antonio Pierce, he has looked much better with the new head man even saying he was one of the players he wanted to build the future of the team around if he is chosen to stay around long term.
However, what if the Raiders are unable to come to a long-term contract extension with Jacobs? Furthermore, if Pierce and Champ Kelly aren’t kept around perhaps the new staff won’t value the running back position enough to pay one who will be entering the back half of his career.
In that case, the team will need to find a new starter at the position as it doesn’t appear second-year pro-Zamir White is anything more than a depth piece. In free agency, there are plenty of big-name ball carriers this off-season such as Saquon Barkley, Tony Pollard, and Derrick Henry.
Raiders could turn to Braelon Allen if Jacobs does not return
Alas, if the Raiders were to let Jacobs go, it is unlikely they would replace him with another high-priced runner. Instead, the draft could allow Las Vegas to secure the position for the future and former Wisconsin running back Braelon Allen could be a perfect fit in the later rounds.
After recording nearly 3,500 yards over three seasons at the University of Wisconsin, Braelon Allen declared for the 2024 NFL Draft. Coming into the season, he was considered one of the top running backs in the class.
Unfortunately, Allen took a bit of a step back in his junior season but still recorded over 900 rushing yards and twelve touchdowns to go along with a career-high 28 receptions.
What sticks out the most when watching Allen is his physicality as a runner, at 6’2” and 245 pounds he is more than willing to run through defenders and always finishes runs with a punishing style that is reminiscent of Josh Jacobs.
In fact, much of Allen’s game is similar to Jacobs if you took the Raiders running backs skillset and diminished everything by about 45%. As such, he is unlikely to be a first-round pick despite being a good athlete at just nineteen years old.
However, if Allen was available when the Raiders pick early on day three, he could allow for the Las Vegas running game to maintain a consistent identity even in the absence of Jacobs.
Of course, if the Raiders were to let Jacobs leave this off-season, they would be taking a step back in talent in order to spend money elsewhere. Allen would fit the role perfectly in the short term and potentially develop into a starter down the road.