Las Vegas Raiders running back Kenyan Drake is a noted space exploration enthusiast who would like to be part of an expedition one day.
During an interview on NFL Network's Good Morning Football, Drake quipped that he's already headed to space in one alternate fashion.
"I know who for sure is going to space, and that's this offense this year, this team," the RB cracked. "I feel like we're definitely taking off to another trajectory, you know what I mean? You like how I kind of threw that in there?"
Very nice, Kenyan.
Drake has been making the media rounds during the sleepy portion of the offseason, harping to anyone who will listen that he expects the Raiders offense to fly this season.
On paper, you can understand Drake's optimism. The dual-threat back pairs well with workhorse Josh Jacobs out of the backfield. The receiver corps, with the additions of John Brown and Willie Snead, is intriguing, particularly if Henry Ruggs III makes a Year 2 leap. The offensive line has potential depending if rookie Alex Leatherwood. Derek Carr showed last year he can be a solid signal-caller in Jon Gruden's system.
The big question is whether those "ifs" pan out, or it's another disappointing season under Gruden.
Drake said the offensive plans in Vegas are to lean heavily on the backfield, with both he and Jacobs able to be a threat from any formation.
"I feel like with his skill set and my skill set, they complement each other pretty well," Drake said. "He just has a knack for making plays in space or just being a hammer and not the nail, like our running back coach in Alabama used to say. ... Just excited about what Gruden has planned for us and this offense in general."
Drake reiterated that he believes he'll see the field plenty despite sharing the backfield. After entering the league as a pass-catching third-down back, the 27-year-old spent last season as the early-down runner in Arizona. Joining the Raiders, Drake believes he's back to a role similar to his Alabama days.
"Up to this point in my career from Alabama, really started from high school because I played a little receiver, I kind of came out as an athlete, then going to Alabama, obviously with being there, I was able to play a little receiver as well," he said. "But then playing in Miami, I came in as a third-down back. Going to Arizona, I was mostly used as a first- or second-down back. Now I just feel like it's a full-circle situation where I can kind of come in, obviously spell Josh in that situation, be a first- or second-down back, prove I can do that, come in and be a third-down back in certain situations and also play a little receiver. So like I said, I just feel like it's come real full-circle for me in my career and I just kind of look forward to putting it all together."
The Raiders took a lot of heat for paying a backup running back $11 million in free agency. However, if Gruden uses him as much as Drake suggests -- both from the backfield and as a receiver -- those criticisms should wash away, particularly if the Raiders offense is as prolific as the RB insists it will be in 2021.