Raiders: Devontae Booker is a questionable fit in the offense

Raiders (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Raiders (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

The Las Vegas Raiders have officially signed veteran running back Devontae Booker. But is he really a great fit in the team’s offense?

The Las Vegas Raiders went into the offseason looking to fill a few glaring holes on the roster. But while positions like wide receiver and linebacker received the most attention, one need that was overlooked was backup running back.

The Raiders landed one of the most productive rookies in last year’s class with the selection of former Alabama running back Josh Jacobs. Jacobs would go on to have one of the best years of any running back in the NFL in 2019.

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The 22-year-old finished the season with 1,150 yards and seven touchdowns in only 13 games played. That resulted in a stellar 4.8 yards per carry average which ranked among the very best in the NFL.

Jacobs is the real deal and the Raiders expect him to lead their backfield for the foreseeable future. However, it became increasingly apparent as the year went on that he needed a true, reliable backup.

Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington split that role in 2019 and performed admirably in his absence. However, Richard has always been more of a third-down, receiving back while Washington was simply underwhelming as a runner.

So with a clear need at the position, the Raiders have now added two players who they feel will bolster their running back depth. The first was third-round pick Lynn Bowden, but the former Kentucky quarterback will function more as a gadget player and receiving back.

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The other was just signed a few days ago and that player is veteran Devontae Booker.

Booker has spent the last four seasons playing for the Raiders’ AFC West rivals, the Denver Broncos. A fourth-round pick in 2016, Booker has seen his playing time diminish in each season after starting six games his rookie campaign.

In fact, last year he was a glorified special teamer receiving just two carries and hauling in six receptions.

Booker has made a career out of being a reliable pass-catching running back to this point. An unspectacular runner, Booker has never taken a carry for more than 26 yards in his career and has proven ineffective between the tackles.

However, Booker does have soft hands and he has proven to be a very capable pass-catcher out of the backfield. But for a Raiders team looking for a true complement to Jacobs, he doesn’t seem like a great fit.

The Utah product seems to have a redundant skill set to both Richard and Bowden who are more pass-catching specialists than true change-of-pace ball-carriers. That’s exactly the player Booker has been throughout his four-year career.

If Jacobs goes down, who becomes the lead back? None of the three have proven that they’re capable of taking on such a responsibility, so the question remains unanswered.

The obvious solution would be to opt for a running-back-by-committee approach, but they’d be doing so with three players who don’t really complement each other. Sure Booker is a bit bigger than the other two, but he’s never been a true between-the-tackles runner.

With Booker, it almost seems as though the Raiders have added a slightly larger version of Washington who can also double as a pass-catcher. But the Raiders didn’t need another receiving back — they needed a capable, change-of-pace runner.

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Booker isn’t that player, and for that reason, the fit is very questionable.