Despite not having a first or second-round pick in this year’s draft, the Las Vegas Raiders were able to put together a solid class that could have a few future starters. The most interesting pick they made came in the fourth round when they selected Georgia running back Zamir White. The Raiders already had a very good running back room headlined by Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake.
However, neither Jacobs nor Drake are under contract past next season and both have dealt with injury issues. The drafting of White has put both of their Raiders futures in jeopardy. It could even affect them as soon as this season. Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report predicts that White will “supplant” Drake as the No. 2 running back behind Jacobs this season:
While the 5’11”, 214-pounder has limited upside as a receiver—he only had nine catches for 75 yards in 2021—he’s a battering ram of a runner.
With Kenyan Drake working his way back from a broken ankle, expect White to see early playing time as the No. 2 runner behind Jacobs. He might not be the team’s primary receiving back, but his bruising style will quickly eat into Drake’s workload.
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Former NFL GM Had White as No. 1 Ranked RB
Considering he fell to the fourth round, it’s easy to disregard White as a potential impact player. However, running backs have lost value in the draft in the NFL but that doesn’t mean White can’t be a great player. In fact, former NFL general manager Randy Mueller rated him as the No. 1 running back in the class head into the draft. Here’s what he thought of White:
- Difference-making burst and home run speed
- Legit three-down player who can catch and block in passing game
- Risk is two ACL injuries already
As Mueller noted, White suffered two ACL tears during his time at Georgia. Those are significant injuries for a running back. If he can stay healthy, he can be an absolute stud. He’s got great size at 6-foot-0, 215 pounds, and ran a 4.40 40-yard draft. Jacobs and White could create an excellent duo this season with Drake coming in on passing downs.
Patriots Never Paid RBs When Josh McDaniels Was Coaching
It was a bit of a surprise when the Raiders decided to decline Jacobs’ fifth-year option. He’s a Pro Bowler and one of the best running backs in the NFL when healthy. Looking closer, it shouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise. Head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler both came over from the New England Patriots, which is a team that has never paid big money to running backs.
Players like LeGarrette Blount, James White and spent years with the Patriots and never received big contracts. Considering how easy it has gotten to find a good running back late in the draft, it makes sense not to invest too heavily in the position. Jacobs could still have a future in Las Vegas but he can’t expect to be seeing a huge payday next offseason.