Before last week's draft, the Raiders' depth chart at running back was decidedly thin. Marshawn Lynch had just announced his retirement, and that left third-down back Jalen Richard, who signed a new deal earlier this month, and offseason acquisition Isaiah Crowell.
On Tuesday, Crowell tore his Achilles tendon during a workout with the team, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, and his 2019 season is over five months before it begins. He's expected to have surgery next week.
That's the bad news, obviously. The good news is that the Raiders selected Alabama's Josh Jacobs with the 24th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Jacobs was the best running back in the class and -- added bonus -- he arrives in Oakland with low mileage. Heading into the 2018 season, Alabama's Damien Harris was considered the favorite to go in Round 1 but he ended up splitting carries with Jacobs. And while Harris had 477 career rushing attempts for the Crimson Tide, Jacobs finished with 251, including 120 last season.
"I'm ready to be part of it."— Oakland Raiders (@Raiders) April 26, 2019
The first voice do-it-all RB @IAM_JoshJacobs heard as a Raider was Coach Gruden. pic.twitter.com/YWwXV6tFU6
"I told everybody that [we were going to draft Jacobs]," Gruden said after the first round. "No disrespect. I loved the performance that this young man had when he got an opportunity to play. I mean, a couple of years ago, he won the starting job at Alabama, he got hurt at training camp, and he lost out on the season. Credit Damien Harris for playing great. This year, Damien Harris obviously won a starting role because of his performance a year before, and Josh Jacobs quietly waited for his turn. And when they put him in the game, it was pretty obvious to me, and Mike [Mayock], and everybody else that we talked to that this was the best back in the draft."
And now Jacobs joins a Raiders outfit that will lean on him more than perhaps Jon Gruden expected just a few days ago. But while Gruden loves running the football, Oakland has been restocking its roster since January, adding Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, Ryan Grant and Trent Brown on offense, and Vontaze Burfict, Brandon Marshall, LaMarcus Joyner and the other two first-rounders -- Clelin Ferrell and Johnathan Abram -- on defense.
"He's physical, he's dynamic," Gruden said shortly after selecting Jacobs. "He's a great story indeed. Where this kid has come from. There is something inside of him that I didn't go through as a young man, and I think he's going to be a centerpiece at some point. I'm not going to put any pressure on him, he's got a lot to learn. But we do have a good offensive line, we've got an experienced quarterback in our system now, we've got a couple of receivers that if you want to double them, perhaps this running back can do some damage. So we're excited at this addition to our team."
The timetable now changes with Crowell's injury but the bottom line remains unchanged: Another four-win season won't cut it in Oakland, and Jacobs will almost certainly play a big role in the turnaround.