Raiders Draft Outlook: Running Back

There doesn't seem to be a sense of urgency at the running back position, but with only two true running backs on the roster, the Raiders might consider adding some depth via the draft. Darren McFadden and Michael Bush have shown flashes of brilliance, but their injury history might move the team to make a move in the draft.

After Justin Fargas' release earlier in the offseason, the Raiders are left with only two true running back on the roster: Darren McFadden and Michael Bush. Depth is a concern considering the pair's inability to stay healthy and produce consistent yards, but there doesn't seem to be a serious sense of urgency at the position.

The staff seems to have enough faith in the pair's abilities, so it's unlikely that the team will use a high draft pick on a running back. If anything, the Raiders would like to add some quality depth behind the two, perhaps through a late round pick, an undrafted rookie, or a veteran free agent.

Outside of the big names projected in the first, second, and third rounds, listed below are a few prospects the Raiders might consider in the later rounds.

Deji Karim (Southern Illinois) Karim has flown under the radar some coming from a small school in the Missouri Valley Conference. As such, there will always be questions about the quality of the competition he faced, but it's hard to disregard his 7.1 yards per carry average during his final year.

Karim is Scout's 15th ranked running back, and although he's listed at only 5-9, he carries good weight at 205-lbs., and what's more impressive is that he ran a 4.37/40 at Pro Day. That's sure to get the attention of Al Davis and company.

James Starks (Buffalo) Starks is an intriguing prospect because he had a very productive first three years but lost his senior season to injury. Still, scouts like the fact that he's got good size (6-2/206), good speed (4.50/40), was well coached, and was really the centerpiece of a revitalized Buffalo program.

Right now, Starks is projected as a 5th or 6th round prospect, but it will be interesting to see where he really ends up given his three-year, pre-injury resume.

Andre Anderson (Tulane) Anderson took the starter's role at Tulane after Matt Forte left for the NFL. Save for a shoulder injury that sidelined him in 2008, Anderson's been a very productive back for the Green Wave. In only seven games in 2008, Anderson rushed for 864 yards. In 2009, Anderson compiled 1,016 yards and eight touchdowns. At 6-0, 216-lbs., Anderson's got ideal size, but what makes him special is his pass catching ability out of the backfield.

Chris Brown (Oklahoma) Brown rushed for only 774 yards and seven touchdowns in his senior year after compiling 1,220 yards and 20 touchdowns the year previous. While there is a drop off, keep in mind that Oklahoma suffered as a whole in Brown's last season. While only 5-10, Brown's built well at 202-lbs. Coming from a dynamic offense at Oklahoma, Brown, like Anderson, is a proficient receiver out of the backfield in addition to being a solid running back.

LaMarcus Coker (Hampton) It seems like there's a lot of quality running backs from small schools, but Coker is one who originally came from a big school—Tennessee—but was forced to transfer due to disciplinary reasons (failed four drug tests). While normally the Raiders are willing to overlook most character issues in the case of a quality talent, Coker's four failed drug tests might be a bit too much for the Raiders' to overlook. Coker is certainly talented enough to be draft—he led the MEAC in rushing with 1,027 yards—but given the NFL's stricter vantage on character, Coker might go undrafted.

Stafon Johnson (USC) By now most people know of Johnson's story: a horrific and life threatening weight lifting accident put his career in jeopardy during his senior season. Still, Johnson has worked his way back into shape, and even impressed a lot of people by choosing to work the bench press at the Combine.

Johnson is currently listed by Scout as the 20th best prospect in this year's running back class, but he's been projected anywhere from the 6th round to going undrafted. He's got good size at 5-10.5 and 214-lbs., but could definitely use some additional lower body strength. He's a talented runner but it was difficult for him to produce numbers in a loaded USC backfield. Johnson is a bit of a project and his success in the league will be determined by his ability to improve the nuances of the position besides running: receiving and blocking.

Other names the Raiders might consider:

Lonyae Miller (Fresno State)

Shawnbrey McNeal (SMU)

Keith Toston (Oklahoma State)

Joseph Turner (TCU)

Darius Marshall (Marshall)

Andre Dixon (Connecticut)

Javarris James (Miami)

Keiland Williams (LSU)

Brandon Minor (Michigan)

Brandon James (Florida) Mainly as a return specialist.

Dimitri Nance (Arizona State)

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