Each day we’re inching closer and closer to the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, and then the start of free agency a few weeks later.
The 2017 season been officially put to bed, but as we continue our position review series, let’s quickly take a look back at the play of the Oakland Raiders running backs last year.
*Jamize Olawale, who is listed as a fullback/running back is also included in this position review.
*Overview: *After Latavius Murray departed for Minnesota during the 2017 free agency period, the Raiders needed a legitimate, featured back.
That back arrived in Oakland in late April, in the form of veteran bruiser – and Oakland-native – Marshawn Lynch.
After retiring, and subsequently sitting out the 2016 season, “Beast Mode” was coaxed out of retirement, and following a Reggie McKenzie trade with the Seattle Seahawks, No. 24 officially returned to play for his hometown team.
While Lynch statistically didn’t have the hottest start to his first year as a Raider, after serving a one-game suspension, the veteran running back returned with a vengeance, and over the second half of the season, there’s a legitimate argument that “The Beast” was the best Raider on the offensive side of the ball.
By season’s end, Lynch had carried the ball 207 times, totaling 891 yards and seven touchdowns, and looked every bit the punishing runner the Raiders hoped they would get when they acquired the former Seattle Seahawk.
Once again, the tandem of Jalen Richard and DeAndré Washington acted as the primary backups to Lynch, and combined, they finished their second seasons in Silver and Black with 438 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Fullback/running back Jamize Olawale also got in the mix as well, carrying the ball nine times, finishing 2017 with 43 rushing yards and one touchdown.
*The Number To Know: *31.
Following his 891-yard effort in 2017, Lynch now has 10,003 career rushing yards for his career, making him the 31st player in league history to hit that mark.
The former California Golden Bear also ranks fourth among active rushers, ranking behind just Frank Gore, Adrian Peterson, and LeSean McCoy.
*Going Forward: *With Richard and Washington still on their rookie deals, all eyes are once again on Marshawn Lynch headed into 2018.
While the veteran running back is indeed still under contract for next season, if there’s one thing we’ve learned about Lynch, it’s that we should expect the unexpected.
Even closing in on his 32nd birthday, Lynch was still a violent runner in 2017, routinely showcasing the type of raw strength, and energy that earned him the nickname “Beast Mode.”
Jamize Olawale is also still under contract, so really, the biggest question surrounding the position group going forward is the status of Lynch.
Will the Oakland-native return for a second season in Silver and Black? Time will tell, but it’s certainly going to be an intriguing storyline to follow.
*MVP Of The Position Group: *No contest on this one, it’s Marshawn Lynch. While 2017 was no doubt a year of ups and downs for the veteran running back, what isn’t up for debate is how effective he was over the final half of the season.
For a player who has spent over a decade in the NFL, one would assume that Lynch would slow down as the season wore on, but believe it or not, No. 24 actually appeared to pick up steam in November and December.
Averaging over four yards per carry, Lynch ran with a purpose in 2017, and was arguably the team’s best offensive option for much of the year.
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