The Raiders have a lot to be excited for in 2019 and it’s not just because of big named veterans like Antonio Brown coming to town. New general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden added a lot of talent in the 2019 NFL Draft. There were interesting additions on both sides of the ball and a few players are expected to be instant starters. While the Raiders had the oldest roster in the NFL last year, that should change significantly by the time the season rolls around. Below we’re going to go through and predict how each rookie will do and what their role will be during the 2019 season. Keep in mind, a lot can change come training camp. These predictions are based on what’s been seen in their college performance and in the offseason so far.
Clelin Ferrell, DE
The Raiders turned many heads when they drafted Clelin Ferrell with the fourth overall pick due to the fact that he was expected to go in the second half of the round. With Kentucky defensive end Josh Allen still on the board, it made the move even more surprising. Regardless, the Raiders are happy with their new defensive end and it’s not like he lacked production while he was playing at Clemson. Ferrell had 21 sacks during his last two seasons in college football. Ferrell isn’t the flashiest player in the world, but he has a high floor. He won’t be a generational player like Khalil Mack, but he’ll be a consistent and solid contributor along the Raiders defensive line. He could easily lead the Raiders in sacks in 2019 and will almost definitely be a starter come the first game of the season.
Prediction: Week one starter, 8.0 sacks on the year
Josh Jacobs, RB
With the retirement of Marshawn Lynch, nobody seems to be in Josh Jacobs‘ way. The first round pick out of Alabama was the consensus top running back in the draft and they Raiders snagged him with their second pick in the first round. Jacobs is a dual-threat player and figures to put up big numbers as a receiver and a rusher. The Raiders’ group of running backs is good, not great so Jacobs should get a lot of work in his rookie season. Three of the last four offensive rookies of the year were running backs and Jacobs has a really good shot to continue that trend. Jon Gruden loves using his runnings backs in a variety of ways so he’s going to get a lot of chances to put up numbers. Don’t be surprised if Jacobs starts strong and cements himself as one of the best running backs in the AFC.
Prediction: Offensive rookie of the year, 1,500 yards from scrimmage
Johnathan Abram, S
The Raiders filled a huge need when they drafted safety Johnathan Abram with their last pick in the first round. Besides Karl Joseph, the Raiders’ safeties got torched consistently in 2019. Abram has already been practicing with the first-team during the offseason. That likely won’t change when training camp starts. Abram is vocal and has natural leadership instincts, which will work in his favor. He won’t be Derwin James in 2019, but he has a chance to be a really solid starter in his rookie year. Joseph and Abram should pair up nicely and give the Raiders the best safety tandem they’ve had in years.
Prediction: Week one starter, 3 interceptions on the year
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Trayvon Mullen, CB
Second-round pick Trayvon Mullen wasn’t the biggest name on the Clemson 2018 defense, but he was good enough to win the defensive MVP in the National Championship game against Alabama. He also didn’t give up a single touchdown reception in his entire college career. He’ll have a tough task sneaking into the starting lineup, however. Gareon Conley seems to be locked into the number one spot. Daryl Worley and LaMarcus Joyner will probably see most of the reps at number two and three. That doesn’t mean Mullen won’t have an impact as a rookie. Conley has an injury history so Mullen could be very valuable if an unfortunate injury were to occur. Also, it’s no secret that the Raiders have had a terrible time covering opposing teams’ tight ends. That’s even more of a problem because Travis Kelce, Hunter Henry and Noah Fant all share a division with the Raiders. Mullen is a big cornerback at 6’2. Maybe he can make an impact against tight ends. If he can, he’ll be an invaluable addition to the defense.
Prediction: Potential starter, helps finally solve defense’s tight end problem
Maxx Crosby, DE
There has been some hype that the fourth-round pick out of Eastern Michigan could become a starter, but that seems unlikely with Arden Key and Clelin Ferrell standing in his way. That being said, Crosby is an elite athlete and could really be an asset in situational pass rushing. He still needs time to add mass to his body so he probably won’t elevate into a starter just yet, but he’ll see some reps on the defensive line. Don’t be surprised if you hear “Madd” Maxx’s name called a few times on Sundays during the regular season.
Prediction: Situational pass rusher, 4.0 sacks on the year
Isaiah Johnson, CB
Isaiah Johnson is another big cornerback the Raiders added in the draft. Despite his height (6’2), he still runs a 4.4 40-yard dash. The problem with Johnson is that he spent half of his college career as a wide receiver. He still needs a lot of work before he’s ready to cover NFL receivers. That being said, if he can improve his technique, he can be a really good player for the Raiders in a couple of years. He’ll get a chance to be a special teams contributor and could see some playing time on the defense later in the season if the Raiders are out of the playoff hunt.
Prediction: Special teams contributor, doesn’t see much playing time on defense until later in the season
Foster Moreau, TE
With the loss of Jared Cook to the New Orleans Saints in free agency and the release of Lee Smith, the Raiders have openings at tight end. Darren Waller has been getting a lot of hype in the offseason so he’ll likely be the number one guy, but fourth-round pick out of LSU Foster Moreau could slide into the second spot. Moreau didn’t put up big receiving numbers while in college, but he’s a good blocker. Waller is a former receiver so Moreau could be the blocking option while Waller is the receiving option.
Prediction: Number two tight end behind Waller, gets a few TDs but makes most of his impact as a blocker
Hunter Renfrow, WR
Don’t sleep on fifth-round pick out of Clemson Hunter Renfrow being an instant contributor for the Raiders. He made some big play while at Clemson and has already gotten the praise of one of his new teammates. Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams will get most of the looks from quarterback Derek Carr, but Renfrow could be a lethal option in the slot. He’s definitely going to surprise some people and make some big plays in 2019.
Prediction: Starter in the slot, 500 yards and 6 TDs on the year
Quinton Bell, DE
Last but not least is the defensive end out of Prairie View A&M Quinton Bell. Similar to Isaiah Johnson, Bell used to play wide receiver before switching to the defense. It’s very unconventional for a player to make that kind of switch, but it worked it Bell’s favor. After a mediocre few years as a receiver, Bell switched to defensive end and turned his career around. He put up 7.5 sacks as a senior. The 240-pound former track star also runs a 4.4 40-yard dash. While he is incredibly raw, if he can figure everything out, he could be unstoppable. Raider legends Gene Upshaw and Art Shell both came from small schools and are considered to be two of the best offensive linemen in history. Bell has got a long way to go, but he’ll get his chance on the practice squad and possibly special teams. He probably won’t see anytime on the defense during the regular season, but Raider fans should still be excited about his potential.
Prediction: Practice squad player, plays a few special teams snaps late in the season