Josh Jacobs was part of rushing tandem at Alabama, but the Raiders fully expect the No. 24 overall NFL draft pick to be more of a three-down presence wearing Silver and Black.
Head coach Jon Gruden said so after adding him to the mix in Thursday's first round, and Jacobs said Friday he was ready for a big rookie role.
"Definitely eager to prove, not only to myself, but to everybody that I can be a three-down back," Jacobs said. "Yeah, I think it was a blessing how it played out. I feel everything plays out how it's supposed to. With me not having so much tread on the tires or whatever, being so fresh, I think it's going to be huge, especially for my position. It's going to be interesting."
While Jacobs is ready for significant carries in 2019, Isaiah Crowell was his safety net. The versatile veteran was signed as a primary option hoping to invigorate his career following a down year with the New York Jets, and became an alternate with Jacobs aboard.
Crowell's no longer an option. He suffered a season-ending Achilles' tendon tear during a Tuesday offseason program workout, according to ESPN, and will miss the 2019 season.
The Raiders could move forward with in-house options behind Jacobs, focusing on a group that includes Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington and Chris Warren III. Richard was a roster lock before the Crowell injury. Washington seemed to face an uphill climb and Warren has to prove himself after a solid preseason and a 2018 season spent on injured reserve.
The Raiders could add an undrafted runner and have faith proper depth will form with the group already in place. That's a possibility, considering Richard's reliability Washington's experience as a No. 3 and Warren's potential.
The Silver and Black go back to free agency for more established depth. Here are a few options out there, including one (or two) we know well that simply can't be eliminated:
There's no doubting Ajayi's ability to produce or be a dynamic ball carrier, but he's returning from an ACL tear. That could scare teams off depending on his medical evaluations, though he's reportedly due to return by the start of the season. There's no doubt the soon-to-be 26-year old is the best rusher available if he finds pre-injury form.
Head coach Jon Gruden likes Doug Martin and how he ran as the Raiders' primary back last year after Marshawn Lynch ended up on injured reserve, when he averaged 4.1 yards per carry. The Oakland native couldn't find an accord on a second season with the Raiders and remains on the open market. Martin knows the system, so his return would be easy if the sides can strike a deal.
This is the option fans have been discussing since Crowell's injury news broke Tuesday morning. ESPN reported last week that Lynch planned to retire, but the mysterious runner hasn't made a formal announcement. He rarely speaks in public, but no one in his camp has confirmed retirement news, but a Raiders opening during his last season in Oakland might be the only place he would play in 2019.
Owner Mark Davis loves Lynch and Gruden has great respect for a player who was the team's best skill player before suffering a torn groin that ended his 2018 season in Week 6.
The Raiders said they would consider a Lynch return after the draft, but that was before the 33-year old's retirement report came out just before a draft where Jacobs was taken as the future of the position. Would he return to support a young back who looks up to him? Would he welcome 10-15 touches per game? None of those questions can be answered for certain because Lynch is an enigma. That's just the way he likes it.
We can say that Lynch is healthy again after groin surgery and certainly capable of efficient production. Whether the Raiders go back down this road, or if Lynch is even interested at this point, remains a mystery.
Powell has been an efficient runner during a long tenure with the New York Jets, but ended up on IR last year with a neck injury. He could be a solid backup if he's healthy and ready to return. Reports initially said his injury was career threatening, but then Jets coach Todd Bowles said he would make a full recovery.
The former Kansas City back reportedly worked out for the Raiders in early April but didn't sign with the team. He could come back at this stage, with an opportunity to compete for a more significant role. He has had mixed results in his NFL career, filling in at times for an injured starter with the Chiefs.