3 Raiders That Saw Their Stock Rise After Week 2 Of The Preseason; Aidan O’Connell, Duke Shelley

3 Raiders That Saw Their Stock Rise After Week 2 Of The Preseason

The NFL preseason is meant to work out roster depth, boost confidence, and convey potential issues to a team’s coaching staff. It shouldn’t be judged by a team’s record. That said, it’s still fun to win; on Saturday, the Las Vegas Raiders did just that, beating the Los Angeles Rams 34-17. Another victory for Aidan O’Connell.

For underrated and less dominant players, the preseason presents an opportunity to raise their stock. Doing this gives these players a better chance to make the final 53-man roster. Let’s look at three Raiders who stood up and stood out while improving their stock.

Aidan O’Connell: A Promising Quarterback Prospect For The Raiders

In the game against the Rams, Aidan O’Connell, the Raiders’ newest quarterback, showed great promise and potential yet again. Despite the pressure from the L.A. defense, O’Connell remained composed and made some impressive plays. His 12-yard touchdown pass to Cam Sims in the third quarter was executed perfectly.

This display of accuracy and poise under pressure solidified O’Connell’s position as a viable backup and a rising star in the Raiders’ quarterback room. Considering Jimmy Garoppolo’s injury history and training camp issues, it is reassuring to see legitimate depth under center in Las Vegas; it will be needed.

O’Connell’s performance against the Rams also showed he can read the field and make quick decisions. His 18-yard completion to Isaiah Zuber was terrific, with nice awareness and timing as he found the open receiver in a tight window. He has gone from a walk-on at Purdue to this year’s Brock Purdy.

It was not all aces, though. O’Connell still has some growing to do. His incomplete passes to Kristian Wilkerson indicate he needs better chemistry and timing with his receivers. With more practice and game time with the A-team, O’Connell will be a safety net the Raiders will likely need at some point this season.

Duke Shelley: Making His Mark In The Secondary

Another player who stood out in the game against the Rams was first-year Raiders cornerback Duke Shelley. Shelley’s performance demonstrated his tenacity and skill as a defensive back. He showcased his coverage abilities by making crucial tackles and breaking up passes. One notable play by Shelley was his deflection of a pass intended for Demarcus Robinson in the second quarter. Reading the quarterback, Shelley’s quick reaction and ability to disrupt the passing game were excellent signs for the coaches in Vegas.

The 26-year-old showed up Saturday with his versatility on display. His ability to cover receivers effectively in man-to-man situations and provide support in zone coverage was refreshing. He is proving to be an asset, not a liability, in the nickel packages.

While Shelley had a good game with three tackles and a couple of pass breakups, there were also areas where he could continue to grow. Improving his anticipation and timing on pass breakups will further elevate his game and his position on the depth chart.

Keelan Cole: A Reliable Target For The Offense

Keelan Cole piqued some interest against the Rams. Cole showcased his reliable hands and route-running abilities, making him an underrated option for the Raiders. One highlight of Cole’s performance was his 17-yard reception from Aidan O’Connell in the second quarter.

Cole’s ability to create separation and make tough catches in traffic highlights his skill as a playmaker. His chemistry with O’Connell is terrific, as they connected on multiple plays throughout the game. That chemistry will benefit them both greatly through the season if they can keep it up.

The second-year Raider was also versatile and able to line up in different positions. He created defensive mismatches surprisingly well, even if it was against second-tier defenders. Cole understands the game of finding open spaces in the defense as a slot option, which makes him a reliable target for the Raiders. The veteran receiver brought in five of his six targets for 60 yards. While Cole didn’t pop off the stat sheet or light up the highlight reels, he showed he is a steady, dependable, and crafty wideout.

There are still areas where he can continue to improve. Enhancing his yards-after-catch ability and becoming more consistent in contested catches will be necessary for him to lock down a regular season role. Yet, with his reliability and playmaking abilities, Cole has the potential to become a key contributor to the Raiders’ receiving corps.

*Top Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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