Raiders News: Jakorian Bennett, Tre Tucker

Just Speed, Baby: Or is there something more to Raiders rookies Tre Tucker and Jakorian Bennett?

Speed was clearly a point of emphasis for the Las Vegas Raiders in the 2023 NFL Draft. General manager and chief personnel decision-maker Dave Ziegler and head coach Josh McDaniels spoke repeatedly regarding the need for explosive plays as the duo head into Year 2 as the Silver and Black power structure. Part of that was adding more juice to the roster, and wide receiver/weapon Tre Tucker and cornerback Jakorian Bennett exemplify the old-school Raiders requisite of pure speed.

The third-round pick out of Cincinnati and the fourth-round selection out of Maryland, respectively, ran well at both the NFL Combine (4.40 flat for Tre Tucker and 4.30 flat for Jakorian Bennett) and during their respective collegiate careers. They’re two prospects with speed to burn and are dazzling the Raiders coaching staff and those in attendance with their swiftness.

Will the rookies’ speed transition into much-needed explosive plays when it matters most?

Time will surely tell…

But the early returns on the two draft picks are promising.

McDaniels lauded both for the mentality they’ve brought to Raiders training camp.

“Very mature guy, very bright,” McDaniels said of Tucker. “He’s a very good fit relative to our group. He learns very quickly, and I think that’s a really good trait to have for a young player. He’s not a big error repeater. He can take something, a correction, and then try to make that correction show up on the field at the next opportunity that he has.”

That was after McDaniels had this to say about Bennett a few days earlier.

“He’s mature and really a pleasure to work with,” the Raiders head honcho said about the rookie cornerback. “Takes the game very seriously, intelligent, can learn quickly, and then takes it from the meeting room to the field. You’ve seen him compete on some down-the-field throws. It’s hard to run by the guy because he runs very well and he’s trying to get his hands on balls, which we saw in college as well. So, he’s just a competitive guy, a good leader, and quiet at times when he’s really paying attention. He does a really good job of understanding the material and works really hard at it.”

Of course, the proof that both NFL neophytes are indeed mature and quick learners is the preseason clashes and eventual regular-season games. The “live fire” exercise of playing another team is the true litmus test.

Tre Tucker, Luke Masterson, And Other Raiders That Need Strong Preseason Outings

What roles can the mid-round picks play this season?

For Tucker: Weapon X

See that designation given to Tucker above? Weapon? He’s a wide receiver and return man by trade based on his days at Cincinnati, but the Raiders would be wise to use him anywhere and everywhere to exploit his speed. Don’t pigeonhole the kid into a merely deep threat or clear-out option.

First, new Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t the mad bomber type with the Howitzer to go long. Garoppolo’s strength is quick decision-making and getting the ball out quick, which means Tucker is ripe for the screen and slants. He can hit top speed quickly, and that’s what the Bearcats did—get the ball into his hands creatively.

Tre Tucker can also fight for and earn the kickoff and punt return duties, although Raiders special teams boss Tom McMahon highlighted the inherent difference in return duties from college to pro, particularly punt return.

“People have to realize that Tre was a kick returner in Cincinnati, so Tre naturally can catch kickoffs. And what he’s done for us, he’s done a great job of, and he’s got a ways to go,” McMahon started. “We all have ways to go, but he’s really trying to learn how to catch punts. And an NFL punt is 1,000 percent different than a college punt. There are not a lot of guys in college who can hit 5.0s or 4.5s, and it’s a rollout play.

“The college punt is Mars, and we’re on Earth. They can roll out, and everybody can release when the ball is snapped, so you get the rugby punts. You don’t get any of those; you have to pocket punt pretty much everywhere in this league. So (Tucker) has to get under balls and catch them.”

Raiders Training Camp Notebook 8/2: Tre Tucker has been flying all over the field

For Bennett: Rotational/Matchup Outside Corner

The Terps’ fleet-footed corner can run with any receiver due to his speed, but what’s more impressive is that not only can he keep up, he keeps his eye on the ball to make a play on it. Las Vegas cornerbacks have rarely done that consistently for seasons beyond the current regime. Bennett is also well built at 5-foot-11 and 188 pounds, which makes him a good option to be placed on an island as an outside or perimeter cornerback.

And now’s ample time for Jakorian Bennett to show he’s worthy of being a starting cornerback with veteran Brandon Facyson currently shelved due to an apparent injury.

The Maryland product also has the fluidity and agility to be a speedy slot or nickel option; however, that job appears to be Nate Hobbs’ to lose.

How does Marcus Peters fit into all of this for the Raiders?

Veteran takeaway artist Marcus Peter is likely slated to be CB1, and Jakorian Bennett has rarely left the wise and productive elder statesman’s side at training camp. This bodes well as Bennett gets to learn from a corner that boasts 32 career interceptions and six pick-6s.

“I tell everybody, man, I’m an open book, and for you to get the information, you’ve got to want to pull it out of the library, and you’ve got to want to go read it. He just comes over and asks questions, and for every question he’s got, I don’t have the answer; we’re going to figure it out together,” Peters said of Bennett. “And then we get in the meeting room; he sits right next to me, and he’s still asking questions. And that’s how it goes; that’s how games are passed down most of the time. You don’t have to really say too much; just pay attention and lead by example, and then you just start filling in your little information, adding everything to his game, and then it’s going to be him.”

*Top Photo: Matt Aguirre/Las Vegas Raiders

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