When the Raiders acquired running back Marshawn Lynch before the draft, they addressed one of their biggest needs on offense: a powerful running back to complement speedy second-year ballcarriers DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard.
So, with Lynch in hand, the Raiders didn’t have to use one of their top picks on a running back in the just-completed draft.
Yet general manager Reggie McKenzie couldn’t pass up Elijah Hood when the former North Carolina running back was available in the seventh round Saturday.
Hood played three seasons for the Tar Heels and is a strong, rugged back at 5-foot-11 and 232 pounds. He could give the Raiders another option for the inside running game and short-yardage situations.
This past season at North Carolina, in 11 games, he rushed for 858 yards and averaged 5.9 yards per carry. He also caught 25 passes for 142 yards. In 2015, Hood had his best overall season, carrying 218 times for a whopping 1,463 yards, 17 touchdowns and a 6.7-yard average.
Hood, who also was on the all-ACC academic team, has a powerful build and strong legs that allow him to churn through defenders.
As Mark Dulgerian of NFL.com noted after the draft, Hood adds “more power” to the Oakland backfield.
“Hood joins a crowded RB room, but his downhill style and finishing ability could be enough to bump one of the other youngsters,” he wrote.
Lance Zierlein of NFL.com reported in his draft profile of Hood that in high school in North Carolina, Hood was “a man among boys,” rushing for more than 3,000 yards as both a junior and senior. Zierlein also wrote that Hood could also be used as a fullback.
“Downhill runner who lacks desired elusiveness, lateral quickness and speed, but does have the overall power to create for himself,” wrote Zierlein. “Hood is a banger who will only be a fit for certain systems, but he does have the toughness to handle pass protection duties. Hood’s ability to block in the open field could open a door for him as a roster-friendly fullback with third or fourth running ability.”
Hood told reporters he wants to make the most of his opportunity with the Raiders.
“I was getting all kinds of butterflies and everything,” he said of his wait on the third day of the draft. “I finally got that call. I’m too blessed. I feel like the most blessed individual in the world right now.”