Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake are set to bring the attention back to the Raiders offense after the defense was the primary focus of the 2021 offseason. The team’s defensive focus was evident in the NFL Draft, when five of the seven Raiders draft choices were defensive players.
In free agency, two of the highest-profile free agent acquisitions were defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and cornerback Casey Hayward Jr. One move that went overlooked by some was the signing of running back Kenyan Drake.
The move for Drake was met with skepticism from many around the league. Questioning the move was mainly rooted in the fact that the Raiders already have a starting running back in Josh Jacobs. The third-year back did have a disappointing sophomore season, averaging only 3.9 yards per carry.
Considering the season Jacobs had, many of his shortcomings were due to a banged up offensive line. Nevertheless, there was still a need to inject some much-needed help for Jacobs in the backfield. Jacobs is a power back who thrives on contact and goal line punches.
Enter Kenyan Drake: at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, Drake is able to add power and speed. But one aspect of his game that goes overlooked is his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. In 2018 alone with the Miami Dolphins, while sharing carries out of the backfield, Drake managed to snag 53 receptions.
The two-year, $11 million contract ($14.5 million maximum) that Drake signed this offseason with the Raiders seemed like an overpay for a “backup running back” but Drake is more than that. Not only will he ease the pressure off Jacobs, but he will add an element to the offense that Derek Carr and company have never had: a one-two punch in the backfield that mixes speed, power, and soft hands out of the backfield.
The Raiders should use Drake in an a multitude of ways. Expect him to not only be the primary third-down back, but also with his ability as a complete player, to line up at wide receiver and possibly even come out in some different formations, such as the wildcat. This gives a new dimension to the offense the Raiders have never had under head coach Jon Gruden.
The issue with the signing for many is taking away snaps from Josh Jacobs, as the third-year back is just now coming into his own at the tender age of 23. What many do not understand is that the Raiders were having to use Jacobs possibly too much last season.
His 273 rushing attempts were 3rd-most in the NFL, and 22 more carries than he attempted in three seasons in college combined. Adding Drake will keep Jacobs fresh, and buck the trend of Jacobs having to play so many snaps banged up due to lack of depth behind him.
The Raiders short passing attack could become even better with Drake. Jacobs is a running back through and through, to the point that he is almost at times non-existent in the passing game. Adding Drake into this offense will give Gruden a new running back to experiment with, and one who can also double as a receiver.
Imagine a top-10 scoring offense adding another explosive talent. Well, this is exactly what the Raiders have done with Drake. The one-two combo of Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake will give headaches to opponents all season, and by the end of 2021, we might just be saying that Kenyan Drake was one of the most overlooked and underrated free agent signings of the year.
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