Since drafting Darren McFadden in 2008, the Oakland Raiders have had a two-headed rushing attack with McFadden and Michael Bush. Considering the various health issues plaguing McFadden for nearly his entire career, the Raiders have required every bit of running back depth they had. However, that luxury may be short-lived as Bush is a free agent and may seek a well-deserved starting job elsewhere. Now more than ever, running back depth will be vital for the Raiders as they will likely never be able to trust that McFadden can carry the whole load for an entire season. Even if Taiwan Jones comes back healthy, the Raiders backfield situation is dire.
With the recent news that Rock Cartwright has signed with San Francisco, the Raiders will need to stock up on backs. There are a few free agents the Raiders may wish to target who won’t break the bank, such as Mewelde Moore, Ronnie Brown, Derrick Ward, and Chester Taylor. All of them have starting experience and would be capable backups for McFadden. Ryan Grant could be a possibility as well but he might price himself out of the market, considering the Raiders’ salary cap situation.
However, the draft this year has plenty of interesting names at RB. Players who may fall to Oakland include Doug Martin (Boise State), Chris Polk (Washington), the speedy Chris Rainey (Florida), Marc Tyler (USC), and the criminally underrated Rodney Stewart (Colorado). Even if the Raiders feel they have more pressing needs in the draft, this particular edition is chock full of talented running backs and the Raiders ought to be able to pick up a talented UDFA or two to compete for a job.
Even though the rushing attack was solid last year for the Raiders, most of that was due to the efforts of Michael Bush and replacing him will be equally as important as fixing the defensive scheme and rush defense. If the Raiders fail to adequately address their rushing attack, too much pressure will be placed on the shoulders of Carson Palmer and he will make mistakes trying to win the game by himself.