Kenyan Drake could be the ultimate chess piece in the Raiders offense

Back in March when Kenyan Drake signed with the Las Vegas Raiders, some fans and outsiders questioned the decision: After all, the Raiders already have Pro Bowl running back Josh Jacobs, who has ran for back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.

Those still wondering may want to familiarize themselves with Drake's body of work. He might honestly be exactly what the Raiders backfield needs.

"Kenyan Drake comes here from Arizona – a lot of people say: 'Why Kenyan Drake?'" Head Coach Jon Gruden told former Raiders cornerback Eric Allen. "Well, Doug Martin had 190 touches three years ago when (Marshawn) Lynch went down, and DeAndre Washington had 144 touches when (Josh) Jacobs went down two years ago, and this past year Josh went down and Devontae Booker got 110 touches."

"So we're going to try to circulate the touches Kenyan Drake's way. He's a guy that's made big plays."

When combining the two skillsets — Jacobs being a ground-and-pound, explosive back and Drake's elite speed and versatility – it's thunder and lightning in a bottle. And it doesn't hurt that they're both Alabama alums who are familiar with each other's work.

"Obviously we have a high respect for each others game and each other personally," said Drake of Jacobs on Wednesday. "I feel like once everything gets going ...you're going to rely on the things that both of us have kind of adapted to grow into, and that's being the best versions of ourselves and kind of feeding off of each other once we get in there.

"His running style is definitely infectious. The bruising, physical style and making people miss in space, me vice versa. So I definitely feel we'll be able to complement each other."

It's especially hard not to turn the other way on Drake after having his best statistical season in his NFL career with the Cardinals, running for 955 yards and 10 touchdowns on 239 carries as their lead back.

But he didn't need to turn Gruden's head; Coach has been a big support of Drake since the running back's time with the Miami Dolphins, where he racked up 15 total touchdowns in a three-year run. So when Gruden and General Manager Mike Mayock had the chance to bring Drake into this system, they didn't miss.

"Coach Gruden, he definitely pitched a good pitch about just my ability to kind of help this team out a lot and a lot of facets of our offense," Drake told Raiders host Erin Coscarelli. "Coming to play with Josh, with Derek and all the other weapons on the outside – I just felt that they were building a really great offense here, and I want to be apart of it."

The key component Drake will bring to this Silver and Black offense is his ability to catch the ball. Drake has developed into an exceptional route runner with good hands and expects the Raiders to use him all around the field. Still, he knows he always has more work to do.

"Just trying to work on my footwork really," Drake said. "Being utilized in space, you got to have good footwork in tight areas off the line. "Working on just really, I guess, receiver-related footwork drills, and that's what I'm going to continue to do. The speed is going to take care of itself. I always make sure I do some hill work; that's something I kind of learned from the old-school guys like Jerry Rice and Walter Payton. They did hill work that really works on explosive speed, so that's something that I definitely want to continue to implement into my offseason workouts."

Drake's signing brings remarkable versatility to an already strong offense. It makes him what would be considered a queen in chess – the most dangerous piece on the board that can move any number of squares vertically, horizontally or diagonally.

And for anyone still wondering, here are the highlights.

The film doesn't lie.

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