Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens: RB Chris Warren III (Raiders)

Matt Waldman’s RSP Film Room examines the potential of Raiders hopeful Chris Warren III and why he might be the choice for Oakland as its third back on the depth chart. 

Marshawn Lynch told Chris Warren III that he must have done something wrong to go undrafted this spring. At first, Lynch asked Warren what he did wrong to go undrafted. Warren said ‘nothing,’ and Lynch responded, ‘Yeah, you did something.’

While funny, it’s a back-handed compliment because Lynch has seen enough of Warren during practice to know that there’s no way this rookie should have gone undrafted. He’s big and has tremendous quickness and stop-start skill. He can pass protect and he understands how to set up cutback lanes.

However, Warren doesn’t play like a rhinoceros trying to be a mouse. He gets north-south, drops the pads, and can remain on his feet while wrapped by a pair of defensive lineman. This is a good thing for an offense because his teammates can enter the fray and help push Warren forward.

Marshawn Lynch is a back who gets this help between the tackles and it’s why a big, strong back has its benefits in a power running game. Warren can often lean forward for 2-3 yards in situations where others cannot.

Warren’s agility and burst are promising enough that with additional experience working between the tackles (and training), he can become an excellent lead back or valuable contributor. While Jalen Richard is a more polished option and a powerful back for his size, I think Warren has shown enough to leapfrog DeAndre Washington and pose a threat to Richard’s position on the depth chart.

Warren’s physical skills and baseline ability as a pass protector and receiver are enticing enough behind proven studs Lynch and Doug Martin that Jon Gruden might decide to opt for upside. He may even keep Warren at fullback or list him at H-Back while also keeping Richard or Washington as the No. 3. All I know is that I’d be surprised if Warren doesn’t make this team and earn a chance to grow into a larger role 2-3 years from now.

I think it will be at running back, but we may see pit stops at fullback and tight end even if it’s for playcalling wrinkles that create mismatches. There are rare instances where athletes are rare enough to earn time as athletes in the NFL. I think Warren could be that option in isolated instances early in his career.

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