Chances are, John Crockett is just training camp fodder. He’s a little-used, former undrafted college free agent who spent all of 2016 on the Green Bay Packers’ reserve/injured list.
And, Crockett will enter training camp at the bottom of the running back depth chart, behind the likes of Marshawn Lynch, DeAndre Washington, Jalen Richard, Taiwan Jones and Elijah Hood.
Yet, for Crockett, 25, this time of year is prime time. When Raiders players report for the start of training camp on July 27, Crockett – a former star at North Dakota State – knows that if he has an outstanding camp and makes the most of his opportunities in exhibition games, he could win a spot on special teams or do enough to be picked up by another team after roster cuts before opening day.
Crockett, 6 feet tall and 215 pounds, was one of three free agents signed by the Raiders last week to fill out the roster before camp.
After rushing for 1,994 yards and collecting 2,419 yards from scrimmage in his final season at North Dakota State in 2014, Crockett was signed by the Packers after going undrafted, in 2015. He made the Packers roster and appeared in two games, carrying the ball nine times for 21 yards.
In college, he helped North Dakota State win three straight Football Championship Subdivision national championships, carrying the ball for more than 1,000 yards each year. His nickname at the school was “Taz,” for his aggressive, all-out running style that some likened to a Tasmanian devil.
At the time he was passed over in the draft, Crockett said it was “crushing.”
“You feel like you’re one of the best backs in the nation, and you’ve done everything you possibly could to get drafted,” he told Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
In 2016, he was sidelined by a shoulder injury and missed the entire season. In March, the Packers declined to offer him a new deal and he became a free agent.
Now, he gets a second chance with the Raiders. Though his bid is a long shot, consider this: In seven preseason games with the Packers, Crockett produced and was versatile. In those games, he had 51 carries for 186 yards and two touchdowns, while catching 17 passes for 120 yards and a TD.
If he can repeat those numbers in Oakland, he could force the Raiders to take a hard look at him.