Raiders’ Jon Gruden: New Game Plan for Running Back Position

Raiders’ Jon Gruden: New Game Plan for Running Back Position

The Extra Point: Raiders Expect Big Things From Crimson Tide Backfield

Las Vegas coach Jon Gruden is looking for one thing especially from Alabama running backs Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake: Big plays
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The Las Vegas Raiders are used to being second guessed on just about everything, but it's gone to a new level with general manager Mike Mayock accumulating numerous former Alabama players for head coach Jon Gruden. 

In 2019, Mayock used a first-round pick, No. 24 overall, on a running back who had never really started for the Crimson Tide, Josh Jacobs. 

A year later he took wide receiver Henry Ruggs III. That the Raiders selected the fastest player in the draft was hardly surprising, the franchise has a long history of doing that. But at No. 12 overall?

This year, of course, it was taking offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood with the 17th-overall selection, a pick that could be questioned for some time, especially if the Outland Trophy winner ends up at guard as some other teams projected. 

Ironically, the least controversial of those selections is now Jacobs, who is off to a great start with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.

So the Raiders doubled down if you will, and signed free-agent running back Kenyan Drake to a two-year deal worth $11 million. 

Drake also didn't start at Alabama, he was the complementary back to Derrick Henry. He's been in this kind of role before. 

“I think what our styles kind of complement each other the most with is his bruising, attacking ability and my ability to do the same with a little bit more pace in the open field,” Drake said in an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio.

“That would kind of give us almost a classic thunder and lightning type of feel.”

The Raiders are going to have to revamp their backfield approach, but that's a good problem to have. Drake's speed, in addition to Ruggs, will force defenses to respect their speed and focus less on Jacobs. 

But the biggest reason why the Raiders signed Drake is simply this, he's a playmaker. 

“A lot of people say ‘Why Kenyan Drake?'” Gruden said on “The Raiders Report” television show. “Well, Doug Martin had 190 touches three years ago when [Marshawn] Lynch went down. DeAndre Washington had 144 touches when Jacobs went down two years ago. And this past year, Josh went down and Devontae Booker got 110 touches. So we’re going to try to circulate the touches Kenyan Drake’s way.”

“He’s a guy that’s made big plays.”

The Extra Point is a regular weekday feature on BamaCentral+, and often includes video and other elements from our FanNation parters. Other recent segments include:

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The Las Vegas Raiders are used to being second guessed on just about everything, but it's gone to a new level with general manager Mike Mayock accumulating numerous former Alabama players for head coach Jon Gruden. 

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