Top reasons for excitement and concern from Raiders camp so far
The Oakland Raiders are just a few days away from their first preseason game of the year which means they are already two weeks into training camp. With that in mind, we thought it was a good time to reflect on what we’ve seen early in camp and specifically, what gives us reason for excitement and what gives us reason for concern.
REASONS TO BE EXCITED
According to most reports, the rookie out of UCLA has been the biggest highlight of the 2017 rookie class so far. Neither of the picks from the first two rounds have been on the field much, but even if they were, Vanderdoes might still be the most impressive rookie to date. Once thought of as a future high round draft pick, a knee injury and poor performance in his first year back from the injury dramatically hurt his draft stock. But now that he has lost weight, is back in shape and his knee is fully healed, Vanderdoes is looking like the guy who was dominant early in his UCLA career.
There was a lot of concern about the interior pass rush for the Raiders this season, especially with fear that Mario Edwards, Jr. could get hurt at any time. But with how Vanderdoes has been performing, fans should be excited about the Raiders pass rush this year.
Heading into camp, I was hoping for one thing more than anything else. I was hoping that someone, anyone, would show up and make a clear claim to the starting middle linebacker job. I had a gut feeling that Cory James would be that someone but instead, by most reports, Marquel Lee has all but locked the job up while James has been playing more outside backer.
Lee has received positive reviews from coaches and reporters alike and while he is still a rookie who will likely have some growing pains, he looks like a guy who belongs in the NFL. And sadly, that alone is an upgrade over what they started last season with at MLB.
It’s only training camp. It’s only training camp. It’s only training camp. It’s only training camp… but… Marshawn Lynch has reportedly looked amazing. The Raiders haven’t had him do a whole lot, but from his limited participation, we’ve seen what we need to see in order to get excited. Lynch has shown no ill effects from the injuries that plagued him the last time he was playing. And even more important than that, he’s shown he still has the ability to change directions and still has a burst of speed.
It’s only training camp but it’s looking like the Raiders may just get the Marshawn of old. Just Beast Mode, baby!
REASONS TO BE CONCERNED
After a dismal first year in the Silver and Black, many (myself included) had high hopes that the once highly touted free agent could turn it around. Thus far in training camp, that does not appear to be the case. Obviously there is still time, but the fact that Sean Smith is not only playing with second stringers, but also playing at a whole new position is a reason for concern.
The Raiders added Gareon Conley and are high on undrafted rookie Breon Borders but even so, the depth isn’t great and you had to hope your highest paid corner would play like your highest paid corner. Far from being the end of the world, but it’s also not great.
Injuries to Obi Melifonwu and Gareon Conley
When the Raiders went back to back defensive backs in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft, I was surprised and excited at the same time. The secondary was a huge area of concern for the Raiders last year and adding two guys who fill two of the biggest needs in that secondary was strategic brilliance. Conley will cover the shifty, speedy receivers and Obi the tight ends.
The problem is, neither has seen the field yet and the transition from college to the NFL is particularly difficult for defensive backs.
Offensive line without Donald Penn
Raiders fans have been rather upset at the prospect of Marshall Newhouse being the starting right tackle. But with Donald Penn holding out, Newhouse has been manning the left tackle spot, which is likely to give fans nightmates. Now, the knock on Newhouse is in his run blocking. As a pass blocker, Newhouse is above average to good. That being said, you still face a MASSIVE drop off without Penn lining up at left tackle.
As long as Penn is holding out, watching the Raiders offensive line is going to be a scary proposition.
- August 10, 2017
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- james arcellana