NFL Training Camp is finally underway and the team is less than two weeks away from taking the field again for head coach Jon Gruden.
Before the Silver and Black get to their first preseason contest against the Detroit Lions, the final 53-man roster and many position battles still must be sorted out. While training camp certainly won’t be the final benchmark, the happenings in Napa, CA will go a long way to decide how the depth chart takes shape.
Treyvon Hester put together a really quality rookie year for a 7th Round pick. The fact that he made the team and appeared in some games was impressive. He not only appeared but actually contributed. Hester managed more tackles than former 3rd round pick and draft classmate Eddie Vanderdoes in 2017.
In 2018 however, Hester faces another uphill battle for snaps with the infusion of new young talents PJ Hall and Maurice Hurst. Not to mention the addition of veteran Frostee Rucker. Injuries, however, have opened the door of opportunity for Mr. Hester. Eddie Vanderdoes and PJ Hall start training camp on the Physically Unable to Preform list. Hester needs to put together a good camp and preseason to distance himself from the higher picks. I’m willing to bet Hester takes advantage.
Ryan Switzer is just one of the pieces of the newly revamped Raider receiving ranks. Switzer, Jordy Nelson, Martavis Bryant, and 2018 7th-round pick Marcell Ateman make up the new additions to the WR room.
Switzer, a 4th Round pick in 2017, was swapped for Jihad Ward with the Dallas Cowboys. Switzer was relegated to mostly return duties in 2017. In 2018, Switzer himself has bigger ideas. And he very much should. He could be a master in the slot, fitting the Julian Edelman WR mold. Switzer should benefit from the upgrade at QB, Dak Prescott to Derek Carr, and playing under the offensive wiz Coach Gruden. Raider Nation should expect big things from Switzer and it will start in Napa at training camp.
Admittedly, I’m not sure what to make of Melifonwu’s off-season thus far. In May, Gruden disclosed that Melifonwu didn’t look close and that he hadn’t seen much of Melifonwu “except in the training room.” Then in June, some positive reports finally came out for the 2017 2nd rounder.
This training camp and preseason are a big one for the safety. His rookie year was essentially a wash due to injury, his one and only start inexplicably came at CB against Tom Brady. He is a safety, so as you can imagine, that didn’t go well. If Melifonwu idles for another season he risks getting lost under the shuffle of a new coaching regime. However, Obi Melifonwu is a physical beast. Watch his ridiculous combine here. By all accounts, Melifonwu is finally healthy and should have the opportunity to put his skills on display.
Fadol Brown spent last season on the Practice Squad. The former undrafted free agent and Ole Miss Rebel garnered attention around the league at the end of last year. New defensive coordinator Paul Guenther has already had some nice things to say about Brown.
Brown must perform well to even make the roster in 2018. Brown should line up mostly at DE but could transform to a DT on passing downs. Guys like Tank Carradine and Mario Edwards fit similar roles as him. Brown should come in with a lot to prove and hungry for a chance on the roster. He has the size and ability to make a difference on this team. I predict it all begins to come together for him this year at training camp.