Oakland Raiders: Cedric Benson and Who Should Fill the Gap at Running Back
At the conclusion of the team's 2012 offseason program, general manager Reggie McKenzie told the media,
"We don’t have that big back, but we’ve got a couple of backs that are playing fullback for us that can be that guy," adding, "We feel good about the versatility of Marcel [Reece]. About all of our fullbacks have the ability to run it. [Owen] Schmitt can run it short yardage. We’ve got some guys that I’m kind of anxious to see them during preseason. But like I said, we’ll continue to beat down the doors and see if we can bring guys in. We won’t stop that until it’s time to play our Monday night game in September. So we’ll continue. Nothing’s on the horizon, though."
Some fans feel that Benson could be the man to fill in that gap, while others have noted that with the signing of Mike Goodson as well as players like Taiwan Jones, there is no reason to add Benson to the mix.
Here is a closer look at Benson as well as the Raiders' current backs.
As a member of the Cincinnati Bengals from 2008 through 2011, Cedric Benson amassed over 1,000 rushing yards in each of his past three seasons, yet he remains unsigned. He is a solid running back who could possibly be had for a fairly cheap price.
Benson's experience could make him an excellent backup behind one of the league's best running backs, Darren McFadden.The question is, do the Raiders already have enough solid backs to provide the depth needed at this position?
Mike Goodson came to Oakland via a trade with the Carolina Panthers in March. Goodson is an explosive back with experience in the zone blocking scheme and can catch the ball out of the backfield. Although he was out for a large part of the 2011 season, in 2010 he ranked second in receptions and carried the ball 103 times for 452 yards.
Many feel that Goodson has potential to become a star in Oakland, and he was just not the right fit for Carolina.
Taiwan Jones was signed in the 2011 draft, and with his lightning fast speed he has the potential to become a powerful offensive weapon for the Raiders. But can he truly be a capable primary backup behind McFadden?
While I would like to see his role expanded in 2012, I think it's too soon to tell if he can be counted on if the Raiders' star running back goes down this season.
Fullback Owen Schmitt was signed in May, coming from the Philadelphia Eagles. McKenzie mentioned that Schmitt has the ability to run short yardage, and he could be a pretty decent goal line threat. Schmitt is a solid blocker and also worked with offensive coordinator Greg Knapp in Seattle back in 2009.
Marcel Reece is an underrated player who is expected to see a lot more playing time on the field in 2012. He offers great versatility and could also line up at tight end at some point. He is a threat at both running and receiving, and in 2011 he had 27 catches for 301 yards and two touchdowns, along with 17 carries for 112 yards.
Reece is another player who could have a big impact on the offense this coming season.
Is RB or Defense a Bigger Priority?
The biggest question is, do the Raiders truly have a big enough gap that needs to be filled by bringing on Benson and can they even afford him, or should they focus on filling some of the more obvious holes on defense?
While I'm a little nervous about McFadden and the potential for injury, I think at this point the Raiders need to concentrate on improving their defense, and especially address the linebacker position.