What up RaiderNation? Welcome to this week’s edition of My Two Cents, with your favorite archaic Raider fan, Old Timer. This week we are going to talk about the future of Darren McFadden. There was a lot of talk prior to the draft about the possibility of the Raiders trading McFadden for draft picks. That did not happen but there are still the questions, can he make it through a season without getting injured, and can the Raiders count on him to be the star of their running game, or do they need to look elsewhere either in the draft or free agency. Before we get too deeply into this, let’s take a look at who the Raiders have to back McFadden up this year. Here is the list in alphabetical order: Rashad Jennings, Latavius Murray, Jeremy Stewart, and Deonte Williams. Marcel Reese’s name could be mentioned here, after all, he filled in admirably last year when McFadden got hurt, but he is supposed to be our fullback, and it would be more beneficial to have both Reece, and another RB in the backfield. Let’s talk a little bit about these guys.
We will start off with Rashad Jennings. The Raiders signed Jennings back in April of this year as a free agent. Although Jennings excelled at Liberty College (3,633 yards, 42 TDs and a 5.7 ypc), he has never done anything in the NFL except play back-up. Of course, he was backing up Maurice Jones-Drew and he is one of the premiere backs in the NFL, so it is understandable that he wasn’t starting, and he did perform well from time to time when he had to fill in. But this year he got his chance with Jones-Drew holding out through training camp, and was named starter for the first game of the season against Minnesota. Despite being named starter, he had only 8 carries for 31 yards as compared to MJD who had 19 carries for 77 yards. While he is a good receiver out of the backfield, and is a good sized back, Jennings is not the answer if McFadden is dealt next year, nor is he the answer to fill in this year if McFadden get’s hurt. He does however offer some ability in the return game. I don’t really expect him to be on the roster this time next year unless he excels on special teams. Here are some college highlights:
Continuing in alphabetical order, Latavius Murray is who we will look at next. It is far too early to tell, but this kid could be a star. Taken in the 6th round of this year’s draft, the kid is big (6’3″, 230 lbs.) and has 4.4 wheels. He is a smart football player with good knowledge of the game, and understands blocking assignments. He has great hands out of the backfield and has a nose for the end zone. In his Senior year at Central Florida, he rushed for 1,106 yards, added another 231 yards in pass receptions, and scored 19 touchdowns. He has a career average per carry of 5.4 yards. If Murray lives up to his potential, I could see McFadden getting dealt next year, but I don’t think he will get there that quickly, and will likely need a couple of years to reach his potential having come out of a Division 2 school. Let’s get to know him a little better:
Next up, Jeremy Stewart. Stewart was signed as a UDFA out of Stanford by the Eagles in April of 2012. He was released and claimed off waivers by the Jets in early August, then released at the end of the month. On September 2nd, the Raiders signed him to the practice squad where he remained until November 10th when he was put on the active roster. Stewart showed some good ability in the limited role he played last year with 25 carries for 101 yards, and 8 receptions for 62 yards. Stewart doesn’t have the size of the previous backs listed, but he is fast, elusive and has the ability to break tackles. That being said, he is not a replacement for McFadden and is 2nd string at best. Here are some highlights:
The last Raider RB we are going to look at is Deonte Williams. Williams was signed by the Raiders as a UDFA out of Cal Poly on April 29th this year. He is a smaller back, 5’10″ and 213 lbs., but he never shies away from contact, and loves to lower his pads and “put the boom” on would-be tacklers. Although he came from Cal Poly, a Division 1 school, they play in the Big Sky Conference against a lower level of talent than many of the other conferences. Still, Williams dominated at Cal Poly, rushing for 1,547 yards and 12 touchdowns as a Senior. Williams was born in Oakland and the Raiders have always been his favorite team, so getting signed was a dream come true for him. He is not going to take McFadden’s place however, and will serve as a back-up as best. Here are some of his college highlights:
Of all of these RB’s, only Latavius Murray has the potential to take McFadden’s place, but like I mentioned previously, it will probably be a couple of years before he is ready. So if the Raiders do decide to deal McFadden next year instead of signing him to a new contract, they will likely have to look for a premiere free agent RB such as Maurice Jones-Drew to replace him. MJD will be a free agent next year, and was born and raised in the Bay area. It is a possible fit, but I think Jacksonville will do what they have to do to keep him since he is the only offense they really have. But if McFadden does not make it through the season without getting injured again, the Raiders may think twice about signing him to another contract. My gut feeling though, is that he will stay healthy all season, and he will have his best year as a Raider. All of this remains to be seen, but the start is not far away.
So what say ye my Raider brothers and sisters? Hit me up either by comment in the comment section at the bottom of the column, or shoot me an email (email address listed below).
Well, that’s it for this week my Raider brothers and sisters. Make sure to check back next week for another edition of My Two Cents. Peace out RaiderNation!!
Questions? Comments? Email me at OldTimer@silverandblackdaily.com