After a year of multiple firings and arrests, the Las Vegas Raiders finished their chaotic season with a 10-7 record with interim head coach Rich Bisaccia. They clinched the playoffs in a thriller against the Chargers, but lost 26-19 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Two weeks later, the Raiders hired long-time New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as their next head coach. The three-time Super Bowl champion helped perfect Tom Brady’s offense throughout his 13 years in New England.
McDaniels’ run scheme was extremely unique compared to the rest of the league. He would use all of his running backs every game, and different ones would score touchdowns.
The Raiders running back room may be an ideal model for McDaniels. Las Vegas has four running backs who are each capable of being effective at a high level.
Josh Jacobs, who is still just 24, is the starter. Selected with the 24th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Alabama product’s impact was immediate.
In 2019, he finished second in Offensive Rookie of the Year voting and earned Pro Bowl honors the following year. Last season, Jacobs finished with 1,220 all-purpose yards.
Assuming McDaniels continues to use multiple backs, Jacobs’ stats could dip, but he will still get the majority of carries. Something else to keep an eye on with the former Crimson Tide standout didn’t have his fifth-year option picked up by the Raiders.
“I’m a firm believer in the work that you put in is going to pay out for itself, and I had to be here either way,” Jacobs told reporters when training camp opened.
“This is where I want to be. I [had] no problem with it. It just gave me more of a reason to come in every day, gel with the guys and work.”
Running back Kenyan Drake had his two-year contract re-worked over the offseason. Selected with the 73rd overall pick by the Miami Dolphins in the 2016 NFL Draft, the 28-year-old suffered a season-ending ankle injury last season.
The former Alabama standout had his best season when he was an Arizona Cardinals in 2019: 955 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.
After signing with the Raiders in 2021, Drake was mainly a receiving back as he had 30 receptions in 12 games.
If he could impress McDaniels as a receiving back during training camp, a role the coach has had success with in the past, he’ll likely get more snaps this season.
Blocking for the Jacobs and Drake are linemen Lester Cotton Sr. and Alex Leatherwood.
Cotton was signed by the Raiders as an undrafted free agent in 2019. He has played on the practice squad and been waived four times throughout his career, but Las Vegas signed him once again in Feb. 2021.
After a surprise retirement from right guard Denzelle Good, Cotton moved up on the depth chart. His impressive performance in OTAs is another reason why he is listed as the starting right guard. Cotton’s goal to be a starter was recognized by quarterback Derek Carr.
Next to Cotton on the offensive line is right tackle Alex Leatherwood — maybe. The 2021 17th-overall pick ended up at guard last season. The Crimson Tide product allowed eight sacks and committed 14 penalties. His role with the team is very much up in the air.
The month of March was crazy in Las Vegas, coming off a year of complete madness. The Raiders acquired several players like Pro Bowl linebacker Chandler Jones and cornerbacks Rock Ya-Sin and Anthony Averett. Ya-Sin will be the starting cornerback on the right side and Averett will be backing him up.
Selected 118th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, Averett spent his first four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. The 27-year-old got his big break last season as he had three interceptions (most on the team) in 14 games. The Alabama product is a very capable backup for Ya-Sin, who didn’t even have a single interception last season, and could get significant playing time.
The Raiders open up the regular season on Sept. 11 against the Los Angeles Chargers. They defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2022 Hall of Fame Game on Thursday night.
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This is the sixteenth story in a team-by-team series highlighting Alabama players in the NFL.
Bama in the NFL: Arizona Cardinals
Bama in the NFL: Atlanta Falcons
Bama in the NFL: Baltimore Ravens
Bama in the NFL: Buffalo Bills
Bama in the NFL: Carolina Panthers
Bama in the NFL: Chicago Bears
Bama in the NFL: Cincinnati Bengals
Bama in the NFL: Cleveland Browns
Bama in the NFL: Dallas Cowboys
Bama in the NFL: Denver Broncos
Bama in the NFL: Detroit Lions
Bama in the NFL: Green Bay Packers
Bama in the NFL: Houston Texans
Bama in the NFL: Indianapolis Colts
Bama in the NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars
Bama in the NFL
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Alabama Crimson Tide Players in the NFL: Breakdown by Team
Active Alabama Crimson Tide Players in the NFL by Position
All-Time Alabama Crimson Tide Players in the NFL
All-Time Alabama Crimson Tide Players in the NFL By Team
Former Alabama Crimson Tide Players Selected in the NFL Draft
All-Time Alabama Crimson Tide Players Drafted by Round
NFL Draft: All-Time Alabama Crimson Tide Selections by NFL Teams
Alabama Crimson Tide Players Selected in the NFL Draft by Position
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