While Saturday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers was Darren McFadden’s first game of the preseason, it still appears he might not make it as an NFL running back. He gained only nine yards in seven attempts and again seemed to be easily stopped either at or behind the line of scrimmage.
While a valid argument can be made that part of McFadden’s problem gaining yards on the ground might be the offensive line of the Oakland Raiders, he just doesn’t seem to be progressing as he should be. Being a successful running back in college doesn’t always mean success in the NFL.
However, McFadden does possess great speed and running skills in the open field. He had one good catch and long run in Saturday’s game that was called back because of a Raider penalty. While his success as a runner in the NFL has been limited, he has shown that he can make plays as a receiver.
Considering the Raiders' lack of depth in the wide receiver position, perhaps it is time for the them to consider moving McFadden from running back to wide receiver. The transition could be made slowly over this season and the next offseason, and by next year with proper coaching he could be ready to be a full-time wide receiver.
Of course, moving McFadden to wide receiver would create the need for the Raiders to find another quality running back. The Raiders could use McFadden as a running back when they need to this season, and they could be on the lookout for another running back for the future. Perhaps a good back will be available in next year’s draft, or someone could become available in a trade.
I think if McFadden was given the opportunity to show his speed and abilities in the open field he would become an asset to the Raiders for many years to come. However, unless significant improvement is shown by McFadden as a running back, soon he will be labeled a draft bust.