Raider Nation has been put through the wringer this offseason. From the franchise-altering move at quarterback to the trade of Darren Waller, it has been a doozy for the Silver and Black. With Raiders training camp officially underway, battles at a few key positions will dominate the discussions. Over the next few weeks, dozens of jobs will be won and lost. Here are the most important showdowns to monitor as the depth chart sorts itself out.
Right Tackle Madness: Will The Coaching Staff Stick With Jermaine Eluemunor?
Right tackle features one of the most wide-open competitions for a starting spot that the Raiders have on their entire roster. The favorite to win the job is Jermaine Eluemunor, who started every game last year, including 15 starts as the bookend to left tackle Kolton Miller.
His main competition at Raiders training camp is Thayer Munford Jr., who started the other two games at right tackle during his rookie season. Two more names to keep an eye on are Brandon Parker and Justin Herron. Parker started a combined 32 games at both tackle spots from 2018 to 2021. However, he missed last season with an injury.
Herron came to the Raiders last season via trade from New England but wound up on injured reserve for the rest of the year after just one game. There are also a few dark horses in undrafted free agent Dalton Wagner and journeyman Justin Murray.
Could The “Patriot Way” Lead To A Change At Right Tackle During Training Camp?
More than likely, Eluemunor would have to regress to lose his job. He played well down the stretch, and the coaching staff clearly likes him. Munford has a realistic chance to usurp him, though. Whether the Ohio State product grows from year one to year two will determine how much danger Eluemunor is in.
Of the other guys, Herron is probably the biggest threat to start if healthy for Week 1. Remember, the Raiders did trade for him last year, and he started ten games for Josh McDaniels’ offense in New England during his first two years in the league. Parker is likely not in the mix (barring injury) and likely battling Wagner and Murray for a roster spot.
Who Will Be The No. 2 Wide Receiver In Vegas?
This one is pretty straightforward, with two clear competitors. The favorite, in theory, would be Hunter Renfrow. After a breakout year in 2021, the new regime gave him a hefty contract extension. However, Renfrow spent much of the 2022 season injured. And when he was healthy, the returns were underwhelming.
Enter Jakobi Meyers, whom the Raiders paid a pretty penny to sign this offseason. It is worth mentioning that Meyers spent his first four years in the league in New England, three of which came with McDaniels. Renfrow will have a dogfight to keep his role as the second option behind Davante Adams.
This showdown at Raiders training camp is important to the offense as a whole. The reason? A ton of first-team snaps on the line. Last year, the Raiders deployed three or more wide receivers on 64 percent of their snaps. Assuming they are in that ballpark again, one of these two guys will be off the field on about a third of the team’s offensive snaps.
Meyers or Renfrow? That Is The Question Dominating Training Camp…
It won’t be that cut and dry, obviously. Each guy will have certain wide receiver packages they will play in; the question is, who gets the bulk of the work? Renfrow has the upper hand when it comes to time spent with the organization. Meyers has a stronger rapport with McDaniels. Will the decision be based on sheer talent or fit within the scheme? Training camp should answer this question.
Renfrow showed in 2021 that he has an elite ceiling if talent is the topic of conversation. A ceiling that Meyers has yet to reach. However, if the Derek Carr/Jimmy Garoppolo swap is any indicator, this regime places supreme importance on familiarity with their system. Meyers has that in spades. He caught 83 passes for 866 yards in McDaniels’ last season in New England. Renfrow will need an impressive camp to hold him off.
Vegas Is Ready For A Good, Old-Fashion Battle Royale At Cornerback
Adding Marcus Peters means the Raiders are set up nicely atop the depth chart at cornerback. The veteran will likely slide in across from Nate Hobbs. However, like most modern defenses, Vegas spends most of the time in sub-packages, where it deploys three or more corners. That third corner spot provides a lot of playing time, and the competition for that job will be brutal.
The two front-runners are Amik Robertson and Sam Webb, who both played a decent amount last year. Tyler Hall also played significant snaps late in 2022 and figures to be in the mix. Veteran Brandon Facyson is back with the Silver and Black after spending last year in Indianapolis. He was a key contributor to the 2021 Raiders’ defense, so we cannot count him out of earning the coveted CB3 role. Finally, the front office selected Jakorian Bennett out of Maryland in the fourth round of this year’s draft. He could be a factor as well.
Who Will Survive The Game Of Musical Chairs At Training Camp?
Let’s start ruling some people out. While Hall was serviceable last year, he is more of a depth piece and only played late in the season due to injuries. Bennett, being a rookie, is unlikely to work his way up the depth chart by the season opener. However, with his talent, don’t be surprised if he takes the job by the end of the year.
If any newcomer wins the job out of camp, it will be Facyson. The fact that the Raiders brought him back hints that he could be in their plans. But he is probably there to back up Hobbs and Peters rather than play in sub-packages. He is a true depth piece behind the higher-upside options.
It should be Robertson’s job to lose. He played far more snaps than any of his competitors to this point. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean he played well in those reps. His inconsistency is a big reason that competition even exists for the position.
The guy most likely to step up and usurp him at Raiders training camp is Webb. An undrafted free agent out of Western Missouri, Webb played well last year in his rookie campaign. He had a lot of opportunities later in the year due to injuries, and he took advantage of them. If the 6-foot-2 defender takes a leap in his sophomore season, the job could be his to take.
*Top Photo: Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal