Draft outlook: Running back

This is one story in a series of position outlooks for the NFL Draft as it pertains to the Oakland Raiders. Today, we look at running back:

What the Raiders have: The outlook became much brighter with the free agent signing of Lamont Jordan from the New York Jets. Jordan has longed for an opportunity to be a featured running back after playing behind future Hall-of-Famer Curtis Martin. He'll get that long awaited chance with the Oakland Raiders.

Oakland hopes Jordan can solve its running game woes after having the least productive ground game in the NFL in 2004. Oakland thought that Tyrone Wheatley could be that player but he had been too injury prone and the Raiders released him.

Justin Fargas, who enters his third season, has outstanding speed but not the durability to be the lead horse. Amos Zereoue, who the team will not resign, was the team's leading rusher with 425 yards but that's an even bigger reflection of the Raiders lack of running game.

Zack Crockett rushed for 134 yards in the season finale against Jacksonville but is more valuable as a short-yardage guru or starting fullback. Bringing back Crockett by restructuring his contract was a wise move. Chris Hetherington is also an option at fullback and probably the best fit for the position.

What the Raiders might do: The signing of Jordan makes this position much less of a priority but still one nonetheless.

As good as the Jordan signing appears to be, keep in mind, he has never been a fulltime starter and it remains to be seen how well he handles that role. Plus, we saw the options the Raiders had last year. Enough said.

With more pressing needs, such as defensive line and linebacker, Oakland is less likely to select a running back on Day One. However, selecting one at some point on the second day is possible.

Vince D'Adamo can be reached at vdad7@yahoo.com

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