With the expected departure of Darren McFadden and the uncertain status of free agent Rashad Jennings, the Raiders may dip into the draft in May to bolster a thin group of running backs.
But the team may be most excited right now to see what Latavius Murray can do in 2014.
Murray, the team’s sixth-round pick from Central Florida in 2013, missed all of the regular season because of an ankle injury.
But the 6-foot-3, 230-pounder is now fit again, and the Raiders are eager to see him in action. Like cornerback D.J. Hayden and offensive tackle Menelik Watson – who both missed most or part of their rookie years – Murray could provide a delayed payoff from the 2013 draft for general manager Reggie McKenzie.
At Central Florida, Murray was a standout, rushing for 2,424 yards and 37 touchdowns, while also catching 50 passes. Plus, he's big and fast, having run a 4.38 time in the 40-yard dash at his pro day workout for scouts.
Murray was selected all-Conference USA as a senior at Central Florida.
“I think Latavius is one of those guys that we’re anxious to see be healthy and get out there and play,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen told reporters at the recent NFL Combine. “He’s a big back that’s got excellent speed and excellent size. He runs tough. Unfortunately, he had the injury this past (season) and wasn’t able to go out and compete. We’ll find out a lot more about Latavius Murray as we go through the offseason program and into training camp.”
Murray played in just one preseason game, rushing for 29 yards on eight carries vs. the Dallas Cowboys. Soon after, however, he was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury.
“Every time he got healthy, the ankle reared its ugly head again and he was back down,” Allen said.
But Allen said he likes the way Murray runs, lowering his shoulder at oncoming tacklers and playing with a physical style.
“For me, with my size, I just try to use everything I have as far as my size, take it to my advantage,” Murray said last year after being drafted. “My strength is my power, just try to be downhill, try to be a physical runner. I think that can only help me, playing to my strengths.”