After spending lots of money and draft capital to revamp the team, the Las Vegas Raiders‘ roster is starting to take shape. Though the top of the roster is pretty much set, there’s will be a lot of opportunities further down the depth chart. Jon Gruden has made it clear in the past that he’s willing to give every player a fair shake. That includes undrafted free agents, which the team will at least have eight of.
The Raiders made the signings of the following undrafted free agents official over the last week:
- LB Javin White
- TE Nick Bowers
- CB Madre Harper
- LS Liam McCullough
- OT Kamaal Seymour
- K Dominik Eberle
- WR Siaosi Mariner
- DT Mike Panasiuk
Those are all the players the Raiders have signed so far. It’s possible they still try to add more, but these will be the main undrafted free agents competing for roster spots.
Who Has a Good Shot to Make the Team?
Undrafted free agents have an uphill better when trying to make the roster. The team has little to no investment in each player, so they have to stand out immediately. One name to really watch is Eberle. The kicker out of Utah State had an elite grade during his last year in college, according to Pro Football Focus. Daniel Carlson was very disappointing for the Raiders in 2019. He’s on the hot seat and Eberle could easily take his job this offseason.
White is also an intriguing player. He’s got the ability to play both linebacker and safety. He also played college ball at UNLV, so he’s a local player. The Raiders worked really hard to improve their defense this offseason, but there should still be a lot of opportunities for lesser-known players to steal a roster spot.
There seems to always be one late-round or undrafted wide receiver who makes a splash for the Raiders at every training camp. Mariner out of Utah State will have a shot to be that guy this offseason. He was Jordan Love’s number one receiver last year and had solid numbers. Don’t be surprised if he’s this year’s Keelan Doss.
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Rookie Minicamps Starting Soon
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the NFL offseason will be done virtually for the time being. That includes rookie minicamps. Head coach Jon Gruden revealed recently that the Raiders will start their rookie minicamps this week. It remains to be seen exactly how those will look, but since players can’t prove themselves on the field, they’ll need to show off their football smarts.
Punter A.J. Cole was an undrafted free agent last year who was able to make the roster and he feels bad for the incoming rookies who won’t be able to show off their talents on the field right now.
“It’s really unfortunate,” Cole said, per Vic Tafur of The Athletic. “There is a really good chance that if I don’t have rookie minicamp last year that I never walk into an NFL facility. Nobody wanted to give me a contract and I had a job at IBM that I was set to start in August.
“I hate it for the guys that are going to be missing out, and I hope that they continue to train and that there’s an opportunity at some point for them to prove themselves.”
These unprecedented times could certainly hurt a lot of players, but it’s not impossible for them to make teams. It will just be a matter of figuring out how to impress the coaches without the luxury of being on a practice field.