One Las Vegas Raiders rookie player that hasn’t gotten as many headlines as the others is guard John Simpson. While first-year wide receivers Bryan Edwards and Henry Ruggs will tentatively start in Week 1, the Clemson hog mollie will have to wait for his chance. In the meantime, he’s trying to learn the ropes from a fellow guard.
The Raiders can afford to keep John Simpson on the sidelines for now
The Raiders’ biggest offseason needs were at wide receiver and linebacker. They took care of the first one in the draft. They allocated a couple of selections to Ruggs and Edwards. Before that, they made a financial commitment to Nick Kwiatkoski and Cory Littleton in the free agency period. On the other hand, offensive guard wasn’t very high on their priority list. Thus, they ended up choosing Simpson out of Clemson in the fourth round of the draft.
The reason why the Raiders didn’t spend too many resources on their offensive line was the fact they have one of the best units in the NFL. Pro Football Focus listed the Sliver and Black’s unit as the 11th best in the league. Moreover, they allowed 29 sacks, which was the sixth least. They have arguably the best centers in the NFL, Rodney Hudson and guard Richie Incognito did a phenomenal job in his first year with the team.
The rest of the Raiders offensive linemen aren’t as good as Incognito or Hudson, but they aren’t chumps either. Left tackle Kolton Miller showed growth in his second campaign while guard Gabe Jackson held his own when he played as so did right tackle Trent Brown. Backup guard Denzelle Good has also played well when called upon, and the Raiders added Simpson as a depth move for now.
Simpson is trying to model his game after Incognito’s
With Jackson and Incognito firmly established as the starters, there’s no need to rush Simpson on the field. However, things can change in a blink of an eye and the Raiders had better get ready Simpson just in case. The former Tigers guard is trying to emulate Incognito’s technique so it’s not surprising to hear they have spent time together.
Simson says that Incognito has played long enough to the perks that come with the position. The rookie guard adds he’s trying to mimic how Incognito plays via the team’s official website.
“Me and him have actually hung out a few times, and he’s a really good guy. He shows me the ropes of everything. He shows me what he needs to do — he’s been in the league going on 15 years I think. He’s a guy that I definitely look up to because he plays like how I want to play.”
Even though Incognito’s off-field behavior isn’t one to look up to, Simpson thinks highly enough of him to think of his as a mentor figure. The respect is reciprocated though and Incognito believes Simpson is a good man and is doing as much as he can to help him play effectively at the pro level.
“He works hard, he cares about football. I’ve worked with him on technique as much as I can to get him up to speed on the pro level. He’s been working hard, he’s been making improvements, and the future looks bright for the young guy.”
All these learning time will surely benefit Simpson in the long run. After all, Incognito isn’t a youngling any more and at 37, he could hang up the cleats soon. Furthermore, the Raiders shopped Jackson before 2020’s draft and could release him as soon as next year, so Simpson will probably want to be ready to take the field by then. Meanwhile he cant take advantage of his time with Incognito and learn as much as he can.
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