Take Five: 2019 Running Backs

The “Take Five” series aims to preview prospects for the 2019 NFL Draft.

These names will appear in a one-through-five order and “ranked”, but given the publish date, thoughts and opinions are far from finalized. Rather, it is best to use this list as a starting point of sorts, in order to get familiar with some of the top names in the class and how they might satisfy a need and fit on the Raiders’ roster.

Currently, the Raiders’ depth chart reads as follows:

Marshawn Lynch — Oakland’s very own. Finished 2017 stronger than many were willing to give credit for (myself included), and is still running hard. Turned 32 back in April.

Doug Martin — Remember him? Jon Gruden cannot stop talking-up Martin, who we’re told will have a “notable” role in the 2018 offense. Last we saw, our hero was averaging 2.9 yards per carry.

Jalen Richard — Electric-at-times change-of-pace runner with useful hands. Just a guy.

DeAndre Washington — Similar to Richard, but not as explosive (may run harder, however). Was on the roster bubble at one point. Much like Richard, a replaceable talent.

Looking ahead:

The Raiders front office opted to pass on both the 2016 and 2017 running back classes. Both groups stood out on paper pre-draft, and for the most part, both groups have had strong, early returns. Instead, Oakland opted for the hometown hero in Marshawn Lynch, which I want to knock more than I already have but can’t simply because Lynch is just such a legend (and he’s still running through dude’s faces). Regardless, with the curtain drawing shut on one of the more fun careers, it’s time for the Raiders to start planning for the future.

Early “top 5” prospects: 

Damien Harris, Alabama, Senior — Perhaps a controversial selection as things currently sit, I haven’t seen many give Harris the praise I feel he deserves. For me, he would’ve been in the top five or eight discussion in 2017’s class which featured a much more talented offering. There are production concerns in the Alabama offense (it’s the Tu’a show, along with Saban’s normal stable of capable runners), but averaging over seven yards a carry in the Southeastern Conference for three seasons is good enough for me, for starters.

David Montgomery, Iowa State, Junior — Despite his current RB2 status, I don’t really have a strong feeling towards the prolific Iowa State product. The RB1 for many, I can shuffle him around with any of the other names that proceed him. He shattered the PFF record for number of broken tackles in a season, which is good.


Bryce Love, Stanford, Senior — Ultra-explosive Heisman candidate, Love’s 2017 outing was absolutely asinine at times: Over 2000 yards on the ground with 19 scores. Despite the box score numbers and video game highlights, there will be questions (namely his size/build and usage and ability as a receiver).

Darrell Henderson, Memphis, Junior — A touch undersized (5-9, 200), but you wouldn’t notice it by the way he runs. He’s a Russell Clay favorite, and for good reason: Henderson’s lapping the field, notably in the yards per carry category. The forthcoming size debate aside, the Memphis runner is in rare-air.

Miles Sanders, Pennsylvania State, Junior — Stepping into legendary back Saquon Barkley’s footsteps in Happy Valley is no easy task, obviously. Sanders isn’t the same talent, but the former five-star and nation’s top running back (in 2016, per 247) deserves your attention. Complete runner who I’d like to personally see top 20+ receptions this season (this can be applied to every runner, I suppose). Missed tackles are important, and Sanders is sitting in good company in that regard, too.

Catch me on Twitter: @StillRyanFive