It didn't take long for the 2019 Raiders to find their identity, as rookie Josh Jacobs bulldozed his way through defenders and a handful of team records.
Behind a dominant offensive line, the former University of Alabama running back helped the Silver and Black establish a reliable presence on the ground, but the OROY candidate's season ended prematurely due to injury, as did the team's playoff hopes.
This offseason, Head Coach Jon Gruden and General Manager Mike Mayock made an effort to shore up depth at the position, and provide some breathing time for their emerging star, Jacobs.
Previous Position Battles:
Lynn Bowden Jr.
The Silver and Black have been blessed with gifted runners for the past five years, but it's been a long time since a rookie shined as brightly as Josh Jacobs.
Raiders legend Marcus Allen debuted in 1982 and he set a handful of team records his rookie season, including the franchise leader in rushing yards (697), which Jacobs broke in eight games. Jacobs became the 20th player in NFL history to surpass 700 yards in eight games and was also the first player since Ickey Woods in 1988 to score multiple touchdowns three times in the first eight games of his NFL career.
Had it not been for an injury, there's no doubt in my mind Jacobs would've won Offensive Rookie of the Year, which he should've won regardless. In 13 games, he rushed for 1,150 yards, found the end zone seven times, and added 166 receiving yards. Jacobs was impressive, but he couldn't have thrived without the help of his offensive line, and fellow rookie Alec Ingold.
In their first year together, Jacobs and Ingold formed a strong bond and made it a gameday tradition to walk the field together before kickoff, discussing their game plan. Ingold went from being an undrafted free agent to running Spider 2 Y Banana — a timeless Gruden play call — and catching touchdown passes; whether he was torpedoing defenders out of the way for Jacobs, or picking up crucial fourth downs, Ingold established himself as an integral member of the offense.
Jacobs, Ingold, and Jalen Richard are a three-headed monster, and a nightmare for defensive coordinators, but when injuries plagued the group a lack of depth became apparent.
This offseason, Head Coach Jon Gruden and General Manager Mike Mayock added Lynn Bowden Jr. as a third-round pick and signed veteran running back Devontae Booker — the former Denver Bronco. Bowden is a Swiss Army knife and I'm sure Coach Gruden will uniquely utilize him, we'll just have to wait and see.
Healthy and prepared to enter Year Two, Jacobs looks primed to follow up his stellar rookie season with another standout campaign, but with a little extra help.
Jacobs and Ingold are quickly becoming one of the best one-two punches in the NFL, which is why I expect both of them to make the Pro Bowl this year. Again, Jacobs' injury robbed him of several individual accolades last year — not that he cares, as long as the team is winning — but I predict he'll rush for 1,300 yards and surpass 10 rushing touchdowns, cementing himself as one of the best backs in the league.
Take a look at photos of the Las Vegas Raiders running backs heading into 2020 Training Camp. The group is featured by second-year starter Josh Jacobs and includes veteran Jalen Richard, free-agent addition Devontae Booker and draft pick Lynn Bowden Jr.