Training camp is in full swing for the Oakland Raiders and the rookies are already taking center stage. There are first-year players all over the roster seeing first-team reps and playing well. What was once the oldest team in the NFL a season ago is looking significantly younger heading into 2019. With the release of the first depth chart, there are already a handful of rookies slated as starters. Based on how some of these guys have been playing in training camp, there could be even more once the regular season starts. Below we’re going to go through which rookies are impressing the most so far.
Keep in mind, Josh Jacobs isn’t on this list because running backs can’t really do much in practice. He’s done nothing to disappoint at this juncture and is already slated as the number one back. Every indication is that he’s going to be a huge contributor for the Raiders, but it’ll be hard to see how he’s developing until the team starts playing preseason games.
It didn’t take long for Ferrell to cement his spot as one of the team’s starting defensive ends. Based on his college production, Ferrell seems as NFL ready as a rookie can be. He was consistent and productive while at Clemson and looks to bring those skill to the Raiders defensive line. He’s already impressed as a leader and while it’s hard to gauge how well his pass-rushing skills are developing, the fact the team slated him as a starter is a good sign. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said Ferrell has been “exactly what we thought he was” as a player that is capable of being an “every-down end.”
Ferrell is going to have his work cut out for him. The other starting defensive end spot is being filled by Josh Mauro, who only has three sacks over a five-year career. Ferrell is going to be relied on heavily to get to the passer. The Raiders only had 13 sacks in 2018. Ferrell had 11.5 during his last year at Clemson. He may not be the sack artist that Nick Bosa and Josh Allen are, but he can get to the quarterback. Oakland’s going to ask a lot of him in 2019. It’ll be up to him to prove that he was worth his high draft status.
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Okay, enough making fun of how Hunter Renfrow looks because the dude can ball. It’s hard to find a negative thing come out of Oakland or Napa about Renfrow. Players and coaches love the kid. He doesn’t boast the athletic traits like some of his fellow receivers do, but he’s smart and an excellent route runner. He’s already been listed as the starting slot receiver over veteran Ryan Grant. Renfrow has been battling with veteran LaMarcus Joyner in training camp and he’s been holding his own against one of the team’s most experienced defensive backs. Despite being a fifth-round pick, it seems like the team is going to use him heavily. Until he proves otherwise, he should see a lot of Derek Carr targets.
The man that apparently never stops talking can back it up. Johnathan was another one of the three Raiders first-round picks and he’s already listed as a starter. He’ll be lining up next to Karl Joseph and the Raiders have to be excited about this because they had terrible free safety play last year. Abram has been impressing with his leadership and playmaking ability. Abram can’t really show off his hard-hitting tackles while at practice, but he’ll finally be able to let loose when the preseason gets here.
When Alec Ingold finished college and went to the NFL, it’s hard to imagine that he’d be in the position he is now. Fullbacks are going extinct in the NFL and he was able to land on the training camp roster for one of the few teams that still use them. Not only that, but the incumbent start Keith Smith got hurt, leaving Ingold as the only other option. His position on the roster is far from set, but he’s already been impressing in Smith’s absence.
Jon Gruden is probably not going to let go of Keith Smith and his return is nearing, but if Ingold keeps impressing, the team could make room for him on the practice squad. Ingold put up some good touchdown numbers while at Wisconsin. Maybe if he can pound a couple touchdowns in during the preseason, Gruden will figure out a way to keep him involved with the team.
Based on how much praise Maxx Crosby has been getting during the offseason, it was a surprise that he’s listed so far back in the depth chart. He obviously still has work to do and that’s probably why he fell to the Raiders in the fourth round. However, he’ll probably move up that depth chart real quick. He’s been showing up really well at training camp.
He could put up some sacks in pass-rushing situations for the Raiders in 2019. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he weaseled his way into the starting lineup for a few games. He’s put on some muscle since the team drafted him and that extra strength has been paying off. Keep an on him in the preseason because it shouldn’t be hard to unseat Josh Mauro as the starter at some point during the season.