Checking out the five NFL teams most likely to have running back near the top of their draft wish list, and which runners might make sense for them.
The amount of energy, time, and money that NFL teams spend watching film on prospects, attending games of prospects, speaking with prospects in official pre-draft meetings, and then ultimately ranking those prospects in order to come up with an all-encompassing draft plan is fairly baffling. By draft day, they have prospects they prize highly (best players on their board) and positions they want to attack in the draft (positions of need), and they find some balance between those two in order to draft players they like, players who (hopefully) fill their biggest needs.
There is a longstanding debate in the draft community about whether teams ought to always draft the best player available on their board, or whether they ought to draft in order to improve in their areas of greatest need. This series of articles assumes that there are a handful of teams that are needy enough in one of the offensive skill positions that they will draft someone at that position. In this first article of the series, I will choose the five teams most likely to draft a player at the running back position, and which backs might be a good fit for each team. (In the articles to follow, we will follow the same method and look at wide receiver, quarterback, and tight end).
1. Oakland Raiders
The first team very likely to draft a running back is the Oakland Raiders. Yes, they just signed Isaiah Crowell, and no, that has no bearing on my opinion that they will draft a back. They have 10 picks in this draft, including three first rounders. The running backs currently on their roster do not inspire confidence, despite what some fantasy deep-leaguers would have you believe about Chris Warren. They need a foundational running back for their offense, and Jon Gruden does love to run the ball. I give it a 95 percent chance that the Raiders draft a running back at some point in the draft.
Three guys I think they will consider are:
- Josh Jacobs: If they decide to pull the trigger on a back with one of their first round picks, he may be their guy as he is the top back on most boards.
- Justice Hill: Gruden loves quick backs who can also run between the tackles, and Hill could be Gruden’s 2019 version of Charlie Garner.
- David Montgomery: He is a tackle breaking machine a la Mike Alstott.