Raiders

A Look Back at Raiders 2019 Undrafted Free Agent Class

As the 2020 NFL Draft came to a close this past weekend, one phase of the offseason ended and another began. Every year, there are NFL hopefuls that do not get selected in the traditional draft, but are offered the opportunities to earn roster spots via training camps and preseason as undrafted free agents. In 2019, the Las Vegas Raiders plucked a few of those contributors.

Undrafted Free Agents Matter

Some NFL organizations may overlook the signing of undrafted free agents, but Raiders general manager Mike Mayock views them to be just as valuable as first round draft selections.

At the end of the 2019 regular season, Mayock attributed that the team’s 1-5 finish was due in part to a lack of quality depth on the roster.

The front office is committed to exhausting all avenues to formulate a more talented roster from the starters to the practice squad everyday. The Silver and Black proved last year that the work of finding and signing the following undrafted free agents can reap rewards.

Related: Raiders pick up Nevada players closing out draft weekend

Keelan Doss – Wide Receiver

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Green Bay Packers
Photo by Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports

Keelan Doss was one of the most polarizing stories from the HBO Series Hard Knock’s last offseason. Many were intrigued by the Alameda, California native’s quest to make the final 53-man roster after his string of impressive preseason performances.

Despite his preseason success, the Raider coaching staff elected to part ways with the UC Davis standout in the final wave of preseason roster cuts.

Doss quickly found a new home on the Jacksonville Jaguars practice squad after his release, but the Raiders soon had second thoughts after the Antonio Brown fiasco reached the breaking point. Due to the fallout, the team made an offer to Keelan that he could not refuse.

Ultimately, he was a non-factor during the 2019 regular season in the Silver and Black’s offense as he was only targeted 15 times but still managed to reel in 11 catches for 133 yards. He is a player that will have to prove his worth yet again with a crowded wide receiver room heading into 2020.

Alec Ingold – Fullback

Raiders fullback Alec Ingold has excelled on short-yardage plays ...
Photo by D. Ross Cameron / Associated Press

The Wisconsin Badgers alumnus had one of the more improbable roads to making the Raiders roster in 2019. Some teams do not even carry a designated fullback on the roster, and Ingold’s direct competition, Keith Smith, was a special teams ace and veteran viewed by most as a lock to make the team.

Smith’s ability as an ’emergency linebacker’ and prowess on special teams were serviceable, but when you can’t make routine catches out of the backfield such as this when the game is one the line; you may be labeled as a liability. The 6:25 minute mark of the clip shows his inconsistency as a receiver out of the backfield.

The writing was on the wall for Keith as soon as head coach Jon Gruden witnessed the following scene firsthand at the 2019 Senior Bowl.

From that point forward, Ingold has been an incredible and versatile asset for the team no matter what he has been tasked with.

The thought of Alec paving the way for Josh Jacobs behind a massive offensive line will be a fearsome thought in opposing defender’s minds for years to come.

Andre James – Offensive Lineman

Andre James (@AndreJames77) | Twitter
Photo via Raiders official website

James may not be as prominent of a name as the two players above, but when Raiders starting center Rodney Hudson succumbed to injury, James effectively filled the void by not allowing a sack in his 115 offensive snaps at the center position in 2019. His versatility to play anywhere along the offensive line makes him an intriguing asset moving forward. Hopefully, he receives some more reps at center as he struggled with a few exchanges during the regular season game versus the Lions. As someone that never played the center position at the collegiate level, his ability to step in and produce at an unfamiliar position at the NFL level is a testament of his determination to succeed.

Keisean Nixon – Cornerback

Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

Nixon saw less than 50 total defensive snaps last season. However, he displayed that he was more than capable in his 258 snaps as a special teamer in 2019.

He is a developmental player who showed last preseason that he has the tools to become an effective cornerback in the future for the Raiders.

Heading into the 2020 regular season, Nixon has the tools to compete and maintain an active roster spot at a position that can never have too much depth.

Other 2019 UDFA’s currently with the team:

  • A.J. Cole – Punter
  • Te’Von Coney – Linebacker- Practice Squad Candidate
  • Lester Cotton – Guard-Practice Squad Candidate
  • Dylan Mabin – Cornerback-Practice Squad Candidate

In Review

In 2019, the Raiders acquired one potential future All-Pro from the undrafted free agent pool and three core players for the future. The four remaining UDFA’s have the potential to make the practice squad and provide depth for a team looking to douse the roster in quality talent from top to bottom.

This year, the Silver and Black’s front office has the opportunity to duplicate last offseason’s success, and it should not come as a surprise to anyone if a 2020 UDFA is a difference maker in Las Vegas this upcoming season. Raiders running back Jalen Richard, was recently rewarded for his hard work as he started his professional career as an UDFA with the team in 2016.

The Raider organization is willing to give players the opportunity to prove themselves, and they have now proven that they will reward hard work and dedication accordingly.

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Top Photo: AJ Mast/Associated Press

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