Jon Gruden is back for year two and with a plethora of new gadgets to play with. With three first round picks and a gigantic free agent haul, this roster is exciting again. The fans came out in full-force to get a first glimpse at the 2019 Raiders and it didn’t disappoint.
While Week 1 of training camp doesn’t show much, the talent can separate itself rather quickly. Some guys showed they belong already, while some are behind the 8-ball for a roster spot. Here are some winners and losers of training camp’s opening week.
Ingold, an UDFA out of the University of Wisconsin, came into camp as a roster long-shot. However, with incumbent starter Keith Smith going down for a few weeks, Ingold has a real shot at earning a roster spot. Ingold impressed all weekend, especially in blocking drills, where he produced two gigantic blocks on back to back plays. He brings in a solid set of hands out of the backfield, and if he can excel as a blocker throughout camp, he will earn a spot on this team.
As others have stated after one week of practice, the offense is generally way ahead of the defense. In result, you see guys have really good training camps, but once real competition ensues, they fall off the depth chart quickly. Nelson comes in with elite 4.28 speed, and is potentially a field stretching option for the Raiders. On Sunday, Nelson caught two bombs from Derek Carr, to the delight of fans in attendance. Two positives from this are Carr’s deep ball looked very nice and he has multiple downfield options that can produce 20+ yards down the field, which is a major upgrade from last year. I see Nelson making this team as your primary deep threat, WR4.
Miller isn’t fighting for a roster spot, but he is fighting to be a competent option at left tackle. With the addition of Trent Brown, many believed Gruden would move Miller over to the right side, but Gruden is entrusting Miller to protect Carr’s blindside. Miller had an anemic rookie season, allowing 16 sacks, so he must improve if the Raiders want to improve. The first weekend of training camp can cause unwarranted hype, however Miller looked polished and ready to improve in 2019. On three straight plays, he stonewalled rookie Clelin Ferrell. Throughout the afternoon on Monday, Miller showed why he was a top 15 pick in last years draft, clearing running lanes and helping protect Carr when it came to 11 vs 11’s. If Miller can keep trending upward, this offensive line can be very competitive in 2019.
Honorable Mentions: Darren Waller, Maxx Crosby and Doug Martin
Moreau, a 4th rounder out of LSU, was brought in to compete for the TE2 job. Considered an above average blocker, with adequate hands he shouldn’t have a problem beating out veterans Luke Wilson, Derek Carrier, Paul Butler and Erik Swoope.
Not so fast.. Yes, It’s Week 1 of camp, but the NFL moves very fast. Moreau looked lost as a blocker on multiple reps and his hands looked below average. If Moreau isn’t going to produce as a pass-catcher or a blocker, a veteran blocking tight end will be kept to pair with Carrier and Waller. There is a lot of time left for a guy to earn a roster spot, but Gruden has proven that draft position and contract don’t matter in this regard. He will not hesitate to move on if Moreau doesn’t step it up.
Like first round pick Kolton Miller, Parker had an awful rookie season. Both guys deserve a bit of a break, two rookies starting in the AFC West is a tough task. Unlike Miller, Parker looked awful this weekend. On Monday, Parker was beaten early and often. Tom Cable chewed him out on multiple occasions, and his technique errors have rolled over from the 2018 season. The good news for Parker is the Raiders lack depth at the tackle position, so he has a spot as a swing tackle locked in. However, if he doesn’t put in the effort needed to improve his bad technique, he will see the door soon.
This one is a little different than the rest because Eddie didn’t have a bad weekend on the field. Eddie again had a bad day off the field. On Sunday (non-padded day), Vanderdoes was seen walking off the practice field with trainers, a familiar sign for Raider fans. Already buried on the depth chart, I don’t see how Vanderdoes can possibly make this roster. The best ability is availability in the NFL and Eddie just can’t offer that. Similar to Obi last year, I can see Gruden cutting ties with the former high draft pick.
Dishonorable Mentions: Johnny Townsend, Paul Butler, and the Backup Quarterbacks
Other Notable Camp Quick Hits
- Derek Carr is using his feet a lot more to the coaches delight.
- Darren Waller is the TE1 and that won’t change.
- Tom Cable was not happy with the 2nd team O-Line. He yelled, “You cant play with us if you’re a dumb ass,” I think loser would have been more appropriate.
- Antonio Brown looks the part and is the biggest star the Raiders have had in 15 years. Everywhere the guy walks the fans go insane.
- The talent level is clearly ahead of where the Raiders were last year. There will be some interesting cuts and big surprises, which I will have some guesses on following joint camp with the Rams next weekend.