The Las Vegas Raiders made a splash in free agency by signing running back Kenyan Drake to a two-year deal this offseason.
It was an interesting move on the Raiders’ part, considering they already have a bonafide workhorse in Josh Jacobs. The former first-round pick has fit the billing with consecutive 1,000-yard rushing campaigns in this first two seasons.
Regardless, head coach Jon Gruden felt the need to kick things up a notch on this side of the ball in the 2021 NFL season. The prospect of adding another potential playmaker to the mix was just too good to pass up.
There has been some speculation regarding Drake’s role behind the clear-cut No. 1 option in Jacobs. Gruden feels his versatility will make him an ideal fit as a complement to Jacobs, via ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez.
“He can run it, catch it and return it,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden told ESPN.com, when asked what Drake brought to the team despite the presence of Jacobs.
“He’s a threat to make a big play with or without it.”
Gruden’s comments indicate that Drake will be plugged in a variety of situations where he can make an impact. Even though Jacobs is slated to receive the bulk of the carries, having too many weapons is certainly a good problem to have for any offense.
Drake is coming off an impressive stint with the Arizona Cardinals, where he managed to enjoy quite the resurgence following a rough start with the Miami Dolphins. He had himself a career year by finishing the 2020 campaign with 955 yards and 10 touchdowns. Of course, Gruden is also interested in the 25 passes he caught out of the backfield.
The surplus of talent in the backfield will give the Raiders a chance to establish a healthy one-two punch in the ground. Given Jacobs’ history of getting hurt down the final stretch, having Drake help carry the load could pay dividends towards the end of the season.
Regardless, the onus ultimately falls on Gruden to find a way to get some bang for their buck from Drake since $14.5 million with $11 million guaranteed is a steep price to pay for a backup running back. This will mean getting the ball in his hands as often as possible behind Jacobs on the ground and tight end Darren Waller through the air.