In an effort to make things incredibly difficult for the Oakland Raiders‘ coaches and front office, there have been many undrafted rookies that have played well above expectations. With many starters sitting out Thursday’s preseason game versus the Green Bay Packers, many of these rookies got to put their talents on display. Even though the Packers also didn’t play starters, these players did exactly what they needed to do to pull out the win. Below we’re going to go through five undrafted rookies who could steal a roster spot.
A.J. Cole Has Sealed His Ticket
The undrafted rookie punter has actually already stolen a roster spot. A.J. Cole outplayed incumbent starting punter, Johnny Townsend, at every turn in the offseason and the Raiders decided to pull the trigger and roll with Cole. It would take a lot between now and September ninth for Cole to lose his spot. That’s unlikely to happy, so pencil Cole in as the first undrafted rookie to make the roster.
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Anthony Rush Could Force out a Veteran
Anthony Rush has come out of nowhere and played incredibly well in the preseason. The Raiders have had a number of injuries across the defensive line and Rush has seized the opportunity. He’s accumulated eight tackles in his three preseason games, which leads the team’s defensive line. The 340-pound defensive tackle is impressing in run defense. The biggest problem facing him is that he’s going to have to beat out a veteran. The most likely candidates seem to be Justin Ellis or Ethan Westbrooks, or both. If he continues his hot streak against the Seattle Seahawks, the Raiders are going to have a tough decision on their hands.
Keelan Doss Won’t Stop Making Plays
Every week, Keelan Doss does something impressive. Against the Packers, Doss made an amazing catch that came in the fourth quarter while the team was down.
This comes after two previous preseason games where Doss played very well. Jon Gruden has mentioned Doss as a player he like on several occasions. This is the perfect example of a player playing himself onto a roster. At this point, it looks like the Raiders may have to let go of a more proven commodity and roll the dice on Doss.
Has Alec Ingold Done Enough to Beat out Keith Smith?
Last year’s fullback, Keith Smith, saw his first action of the preseason against the Packers. He took all of the fullback reps and Alec Ingold was regulated to special teams. This doesn’t bode well for the rookie’s chances as he already had a lot to prove to beat out Smith. It’s highly unlikely Ingold will be the team’s starting fullback in 2019, but he could find a spot on special teams. He’s filled in nicely while Smith was away, but Smith is proven. The Raiders won’t take a risk on Ingold when Smith hasn’t done anything to make the team doubt him.
Keisean Nixon Steps up While Nick Nelson Falters
Nobody had their chances of making the teams get better during Thursday’s game than cornerback Keisean Nixon. Nick Nelson had a horrific day and Nixon stepped up.
Through three preseason games, Nixon has only allowed five receptions on 15 targets. Yes, he’s playing mostly backups, but it’s still impressive. The Raiders are pretty set at the top of their cornerback unit, but there could be room for Nixon if the team gets rid of Nelson. Honestly, this seems like a real possibility after Thursday’s game. Nelson may have blown his chance and Nixon filled in the void. This could be a deciding factor when the team makes the final roster cut.