Nine of the Oakland Raiders’ draftees, along with a slew of other undrafted free agents and rookie camp invitees will face off-season workouts this month. As a result, each intends on making not only the Raiders 53-man roster, but the all-important gameday 46 squad. By all indications, it’s going to be competition across the board, so the rookies need to shine.
cover32 Exclusive: A one-on-one exclusive with new Dolphins’ WR, Drew Morgan
What’s Trending: Former NFL WR, Plaxico Burress, has message for new rookie class
NFL Rumors: Jim Harbaugh to coach the Chicago Bears in 2018
2017 NFL Season: How will the 2017 Falcons’ offense compare to the 2016 season
Let’s focus solely on the nine players the Raiders draftees. Here’s how they rank on projected and potential playing time when the regular season rolls around. (Again, this is conjecture based on each making it through healthy and progressing like the team hopes).
- Marquel Lee: Lack of depth at the linebacker, particularly the inside spot, gives the Wake Forest product a clear path at starting. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound fifth-round pick is supremely confident and may be the thumper Oakland has been seeking.
- Obi Melifonwu: Tight ends are the bane of the Raiders defense’s existence. With that said, athletic UConn safety is the potential solution. The second-round pick has the size (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) and wheels (4.40 40) to not only cover tight ends but be a press-man corner on the outside.
- Gareon Conley: Depending on how the accusations play out, the Buckeye cornerback is best used on an island on the outside. If he cannot supplant starters David Amerson and Sean Smith, the slot/inside role would be Conley’s. In today’s NFL, nickel corners are considered starters.
- Eddie Vanderdoes: Oakland not only lacks depth at defensive tackle, it sorely lacks an bully and the UCLA Bruin fits the bill. Provided he stays in shape and motivated, Vanderdoes could see extensive time. The third-round selection says he is and if the Raiders get the early UCLA-version of Vanderdoes, the Raiders get interior pressure.
- David Sharpe: Mountain of a tackle, the Florida Gator manned the left side. While that could be his NFL position, the fourth-round pick can come in and compete for the right tackle job. For three seasons, the weak spot on the Raiders otherwise domineering offensive line.
- Shalom Luani: The “Football Playing Jessie” as McKenzie referred to him, is a playmaking ballhawk. The seventh-rounder’s best chances are as special teams ace or sub-package safety.
- Elijah Hood: The Tarheel running back pattered his game after Marshawn Lynch. He’s a power runner at 6-feet, 220 pounds but is somewhat redundant with Beast Mode on the roster. Seventh-rounder is likely a practice squad addition in his first year.
- Jylan Ware: Another freak athlete, the Alabama State product moves better than you’d think a 6-foot-8, 295-pound dude would. Seventh-round pick is a developmental prospect that can be a swing tackle early on.
- Treyvon Hester: Shedding weight did wonders for the Toledo tackle as he became a stout run plugger. Seventh-rounder can compete for three-tech role at DT.
All things considered, this draft class contains a couple potential starters and valuable depth. Plus, with returning starters, many rookies won’t feel rushed.