If Raiders Pass on Lynch, Draft is Deep in Running Backs

Younger, less expensive big backs -- with good upside -- should be plentiful after first round of the NFL draft

The Raiders reportedly are still in the hunt to sign veteran running back Marshawn Lynch, but another team also has surfaced: the New England Patriots.

Jeff Howe, who covers the Patriots for the Boston Herald, reported Monday that Lynch as expressed playing for the Pats “if talks break down with the Raiders.”

Depending on your point of view, that’s either a good or bad thing for the Raiders, the hometown team of Lynch, who retired from the Seattle Seahawks after the 2015 season.

Some see Lynch as a perfect addition. He’d be a big, physical lead back on a team that also has a couple of young, complementary running backs in DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard but has lost Latavius Murray in free agency. Lynch, after all, is a 5-foot-11-inch veteran who’s no doubt bigger than his listed weight of 215 pounds.

But Lynch would probably be an expensive addition and one who will be 31 by the time the 2017 season begins.

That’s why many Raiders-watchers believe Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie would be better served to let Lynch go elsewhere and sign a younger, less expensive option who can pay dividends for several years.

Jesse Martinez of Yahoo! Sports Tuesday noted that this particular draft is deep in running back talent. The Raiders could use their first-round pick – No. 24 overall – on one of the highest-rated backs, or wait until the second or third round to get a good one (while using the top pick on defense, the team’s greatest area of need).

Chances are, the top running backs – Leonard Fournette of LSU, Dalvin Cook of Florida State and perhaps even Christian McCaffrey of Stanford — will be off the board by the time Oakland picks in the second round.

But one player who could interest the Raiders is former Texas standout D’Onta Foreman, a 6-foot, 233-pounder who could nicely fill Murray’s shoes for a fraction of the price of Lynch.

Foreman had a terrific season with the Longhorns in 2016, leading all major-school ballcarriers with 184.4 rushing yards per game (and 2,028 for the year). But, he fumbled the ball away six times, wasn’t an outstanding blocker and some scouts believe Foreman isn’t as physical a runner as he should be at his size.

Still, in combination with Washington and Richard, Foreman could give the Raiders a solid trio at a low cost.

Another big running back often linked to the Raiders is Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine, a 5-foot-11, 233-pounder.  NFL scouts like his powerful running style, but he could slip into the second, third or fourth rounds because he isn’t believed to have outstanding quickness or speed. Yet in a power-back role with the Raiders, he could flourish.

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