It’s mid-July but don’t let the summer heat wave distract youÂ fromÂ the fact that Jon Gruden’s first training camp back in Napa is right around the corner.
Raider Nation is on deck to find out if their off-season acquisitions have aged nicely like a fine wine out there in wine country. Let’s take aÂ look at some under-the-radar personnel heading into camp.
1. Derek Carrier – Hybrid Tight End
Oddly enough, Carrier finds himself back in a Raider’s uniform after initially entering the NFL as an undrafted rookie free agent back in 2012. Carrier was a small school product out of Beloit College and has relied onÂ his versatility & athleticism to keep his NFL career afloat. Carrier has been listed as a fullback, tight end, and wide receiver in his five seasons thus far.
What’s intriguing about Carrier is his blocking ability on the edge of the offensive line. This appears to be one of the major reasons for the acquisition under Gruden. The current tight end personnel group gives Carrier a chance to emerge as the Raiders moved on from Clive Walford. Fellow teammate Lee Smith is also known for his blocking at the TE position,Â but doesn’t have the speed and athletic ability that Carrier has catching the football. With a unique set of skills, keep an eye out for Carrier as he his plenty capable of snagging the second pass catching TE in this offense, behind starter Jared Cook.Â Carrier has “Gruden Grinder” written all over him.
2. Ryan Switzer – WR/PR
Switzer came to Oakland by way of a player-trade with the Dallas Cowboys for Jihad Ward as compensation. Switzer will be joining an overhauled receiving corps that has many new faces.
He’ll be trying to find a role as a rotational target in the slot while doubling as a punt returner. For years the Raiders have struggled to address the punt return position, and with the cringe-worthy struggles of Jalen Richard last season, Gruden appears to have found his man.
Switzer was a highly productive player in college at North Carolina, many think his skill-set wasn’t used correctly in Dallas. Switzer already has shown he’s enjoying theÂ change of scenery and the influence of the talented coaching staff should bring out the best in him. I’d assume newÂ special teams coach Rich Bisaccia who spent last season in Dallas as well, knows Switzer’s value for coach Gruden.
3. Daryl Worley – DB
The Worley acquisition was a bit startling considering he wasÂ fresh off a release from The Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles made the move after an ugly arrest that carried legal charges against Worley. Gruden was clearing the roster of damaging personalities and distractions such as Michael Crabtree and Marquette King andÂ now Worley comes in with some off-the-field baggage that showed contrast to Gruden’s otherÂ roster moves. WorleyÂ was a contractually friendlyÂ addition coming inÂ for a bargain value due to his looming legal troubles and possible NFL suspension. He will, however, have an instant shot to play in the givenÂ defensive back position group.
Worley is still only 23-years-old and can lean on hisÂ former collegeÂ teammate Karl Joseph to help adjust to his new team. The vocal defensive leader Bruce Irvin is also a West Virginia alumni, hopefully the defensiveÂ locker room can allow him to get to work because he can help this team.Â Worley has played in 31 games so far in his career and produced 19 passes defended, 2 sacks, 3 interceptions and 111 tackles. That’s impressive production, therefore,Â the risk vs reward of acquiring this young talented defensive back, might turn out to be an absoluteÂ steal for the franchise.