Raiders Still at Bottom of PFT Rankings? Jakorian Bennett Earns Praise

Las Vegas Raiders Training Camp: 3 Non-QB Battles To Keep An Eye On

It’s been two weeks since the conclusion of minicamp for the Las Vegas Raiders. Second-year cornerback Jakorian Bennett and star D-lineman Christian Wilkins were among the standouts during this phase, as well as multiple rookies who proved their readiness for NFL action (more on minicamp standouts here). With minicamp now well in the rearview mirror, the next stop for the Silver and Black is training camp.

Rookies on the Raiders’ roster, both drafted and undrafted, will report to camp on the 21st of July. Veterans will follow suit two days later on the 23rd.

As is the case each season, members of the Silver and Black will be competing for both roster spots and increased roles. This year’s training camp contains plenty of tight battles that will impact a great deal once the regular season officially begins, none more important than who will stand under center for the Raiders in 2024.

However, while Raider Nation has their eyes glued to the fight between quarterbacks—and understandably so—there are various other battles that deserve attention as well.

Those ‘other’ battles are the focus here.

Raiders training camp: Non-QB battles for Raider Nation to keep an eye on

Rounding out the wide receiver room

There may not be a better position group on the entirety of the Raiders’ roster, whether we’re only talking starters or the depth as a whole. Analytically, Jakobi Meyers performed just as well as Davante Adams in 2023, and Davante Adams is, well, Davante Adams; a three-time first-team All-Pro receiver.

Beyond the two starting wideouts in Las Vegas, speedster Tre Tucker is entering his second year in Sin City after proving those who doubted him during the draft process wrong.

But it isn’t just the top that’s strong. Rounding out the roster is former Dallas star Michael Gallup, alongside burners D.J. Turner and Jalen Guyton. Don’t forget about Kristian Wilkerson, either, who Aidan O’Connell oftentimes leaned on in preseason and came up big more than he didn’t. That’s the exact reason why Wilkerson was able to earn a spot on the 53-man roster last season.

This type of depth is why it’ll be a battle to keep an eye on, and many important questions will likely be answered through this process.

Will Antonio Pierce look to carry five or six receivers on his roster? Is Michael Gallup able to return to his pre-ACL tear form that led him to a 1k-yard season? Does the Raiders’ new regime have the same love for former Patriot Kristian Wilkerson that Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler had?

There are plenty of questions, but one thing is for sure: Speed is needed on this offense. That’s why general manager Tom Telesco added his former Chargers buddy Jalen Guyton who posted a 4.39 40-time.

It’s likely either Guyton or D.J. Turner makes the roster so the offense has a source of quickness outside of Tre Tucker.

Jack Jones is the Raiders’ CB1, but who’ll be opposite of him?

When Jakorian Bennett was drafted in 2023, the plan was to keep growing the talented cornerback until he was ready to start. At least, that was the plan of Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler, who are no longer with the Raiders’ organization.

Will Antonio Pierce have that same patience with the 23-year-old? It’s possible, but it’s far from a given. Although, there may not be any waiting at all. Bennett was a standout performer during minicamp, and if that same success continues throughout training camp, it’ll be hard to keep the young ballhawk off the field.

But Bennett isn’t the only Las Vegas cornerback with hopes of earning a starting role.

Brandon Facyson, the only member of the team’s cornerback room older than 26, has both experience as a starter and experience as a Raider. Facyson has 17 starts under his belt, which is more games than Bennett has even appeared in at this point of his young career.

In fact, Nate Hobbs aside – who is not part of this conversation as he is a nickel corner – no cornerback on the Raiders’ roster has more starts in their career than Facyson.

With the Silver and Black in 2021, Facyson allowed his matchups to catch 59.2% of passes their way. He was able to force a team-high 13 incompletions with a team-high 10 pass breakups. The glaring negative? The veteran corner committed eight penalties; three more than any other Raiders defender.

Of course, that was under Gus Bradley and not current Sin City defensive coordinator Patrick Graham.

Facyson’s 6’2″ height also separates him from boundary corners Jakorian Bennett and Jack Jones, who both stand under 6’0″. It doesn’t separate him from rookie Decamerion Richardson, however, who posted a blazing 40-time of 4.34.

Perhaps the rook’s intangibles help him earn the spot opposite of Jack Jones. After all, Richardson has a great combination of the speed you want from Bennett and the size you want from Facyson.

Exploring the running back depth with Josh Jacobs gone

There’s two things to note about the Josh Jacobs-less Raiders’ backfield.

The first thing is, there isn’t a player on the roster who can carry the ball 20 times per game and look better as the game progresses while doing it. Actually, Derrick Henry and Nick Chubb aside, there may not be another player league-wide cut from that cloth.

Secondly, it wouldn’t matter if Las Vegas did have a player who could do that, because that isn’t how offensive coordinator Luke Getsy rolls. Last season, with the Chicago Bears, three running backs totaled north of 80 carries under Getsy. That has not happened with the Raiders in any year since Jacobs was drafted.

Ultimately, this means running backs deeper down on the depth chart will get opportunities they may not have gotten otherwise. Think Zamir White; White was only able to showcase his abilities in-game because Josh Jacobs was unavailable. Guys further down the list will be fighting in camp to have such chances during the regular season as well.

Remember Brittain Brown?

Brittain Brown has done well when called upon in preseason, rushing for the fourth-most yardage league-wide (152) in 2022. Even Still, Brown lays waiting for his first carry as a pro. A good training camp will help that become possible.

Brown isn’t the only runner from the ’22 draft class hoping to earn his first taste of NFL action at tailback. Undrafted free agent Sincere McCormick will be looking to use training camp as a springboard to land field time himself. With UTSA in 2021, McCormick totaled 1,479 rushing yards along with 15 rushing touchdowns.

More than the depth battle, there’s an open fight for third-down running back. Rookie Dylan Laube was drafted to be a gadget and impressed doing just that during minicamp, but that’s the role veteran Ameer Abdullah also excels at. If the Raiders didn’t want Abdullah to be part of their plans moving forward, the team wouldn’t have re-signed him this offseason.

Will the rookie beat out the nine-year vet, or will experience prevail? It’s certainly a battle to watch closely.

Top Photo: Jack Dempsey/AP

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