With loads of new faces all over the Raiders roster, it’s easy to forget some of the guys who have been with the team. Obviously, names like Derek Carr and Rodney Hudson are still going to get their share of love, but there are a few guys who seem to have faded into the background, mainly due to high profile players/additions at their same positions. In some cases, it’s because injuries have caused these guys to miss time.
Below we’re going to go through some players who haven’t caught many headlines but could still find a roll on the team in 2019.
The 2018 second round pick still has plenty of time to prove his worth, but the Raiders have had a horrible track record with second-round picks lately. 2015 second round pick Mario Edwards Jr. had a solid rookie season but has faded into obscurity and the team let him go after the 2017 season. Jihad Ward, the second round pick for 2016, did absolutely nothing before he was traded to the Cowboys after just two seasons in Oakland. The 2017 second round pick, Obi Melifonwu, lasted just one season before he was let go. Former general manager Reggie McKenzie did a terrible job selecting second round picks, outside of quarterback Derek Carr, and it’s likely a big part as to why he was fired. P.J. Hall was the last of his second round picks.
Hall had a lot of his thunder stolen by fellow 2018 draftee Maurice Hurst. Hurst was a first round talent that fell to the fifth round because of a heart condition. That heart condition doesn’t seem to be as serious as originally thought so the Raiders may have gotten a steal. Hurst led the Raiders in sacks in 2018 and he’s expected to blossom into a force for the silver and black. Hall wasn’t bad in 2018. He had 15 quarterback pressures in 14 games and was ranked the 11th best rookie defensive tackle by Pro Football Focus for 2018. Hall put up monster stats while he was at Sam Houston State. Even though his school was small, the Raiders couldn’t ignore the production and took him high in the draft. Hall hasn’t been a disappointment, but he’s going to need to show big improvement if he’s going to compete with Hurst. If he does, the Raiders could have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL.
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Eddie Vanderdoes was a third-round pick for the Raiders in 2017 and, unfortunately, due to injury, missed the entirety of the 2018 season. Vanderdoes looked pretty good in spurts during his rookie season but got hurt during the last game of the 2017 season and it held him out for 2018. The aforementioned Hall and Hurst play the same position as Vanderdoes so it’s going to be hard for him to get a ton of playing time. That’s not even counting Justin “Jelly” Ellis who has been a staple on the Raiders defensive line since 2014. That being said, head coach Jon Gruden has stated this offseason that he’s excited to see Vanderdoes in action so that bodes well for him. Though the Raiders are loaded at defensive tackle, it’s a demanding position and Vanderdoes will definitely get some reps. The Raiders should be more talented along the defensive line, so that should make things easier for everybody. Being out of sight for a year doesn’t mean Vanderdoes isn’t good. He could be a really good second unit guy for the Raiders in 2019.
Fans won’t ever forget about running back Jalen Richard, but with rookie Josh Jacobs on the way, it’ll be really easy for the Raiders to. The team currently has six running backs on the roster. They’ll most likely cut half of them by the time the regular season rolls around. Obviously, one of those spots is reserved for Josh Jacobs. The second spot will probably go to Doug Martin, who played well last season. That leaves the third spot open for either Isaiah Crowell, DeAndre Washington, Chris Warren or Richard. Crowell is coming off an injury, but he’s put up solid numbers in his career and he’s just 26 years old. Warren is interesting because he was impressive in the preseason last year, but got injured. He’ll have his chance in training camp. Washington hasn’t done much in his three seasons and he’ll likely be the odd man out.
What might hurt Richard is that he has a similar skillset to Jacobs. They’re both excellent receivers out of the backfield. The New England Patriots typically have more than one running back that’s a solid receiver, so that could work in Richard’s favor. Richard is explosive and a big play threat. It could be a lot of fun if Gruden can figure out a way to get Jacobs and Richard on the field together.