Compared to last season’s training camp preview, the Raiders surpassed the majority of analysts’ expectations. The Raiders went 7-9 with a subpar roster and a difficult schedule. Even with that, no one is quite buying into the Raiders, well except for fans and players on the team. Darren Waller thinks the offense could be a top 5 offense. A lofty goal for sure. Trent Brown echoed that statement saying the Raiders could be special. The expectations are low once again for the Raiders, making it all the better when the Raiders surpass those expectations again. Before the season starts, what, or should I say who, should we be looking at in the Raiders 2020 training camp?
3 Position Battles To Watch
Wide Receiver: Tyrell Williams, Henry Ruggs III, Hunter Renfrow, Bryan Edwards, Zay Jones, Marcell Ateman, Nelson Agholor, Keelan Doss, Rico Gafford
The wide receiver position is the first position battle to watch for the Raiders 2020 training camp. The competition is stiff for the Raiders’ wide receivers. This is not even all the wide receivers that are contending for a spot, but only the most notable ones. Usually, teams will bring on maybe 5 or 6 receivers. Listed above are 9 receivers, meaning there will be some hard cuts. The only ones that I think are safe are Tyrell Williams, Henry Ruggs III, Hunter Renfrow, Bryan Edwards. That’s already 4 spots taken up, leaving only 1 or 2 more. Zay Jones has my bet for making the roster, he is talented but it has never panned out on the field. Jon Gruden is a sucker for talent and hardly ever gives up on it i.e. Antonio Brown.
Marcell Ateman hasn’t really made an impact on other fans to know who he is. He’s just a name that really only Raider fans would know. He’s had some okay performances, but other than his big body, there’s not a lot of reason to have him on the roster. Keelan Doss was a notable name if you watched Hard Knocks last year. Keelan Doss, a player who grew up in Oakland, quickly became a fan favorite as the show went on. It boggled everyone’s mind that the Raiders cut him, but they eventually signed him off the practice squad once the Antonio Brown situation ended in a disaster.
The only reason why Rico Gafford is here because of the amount of injuries to the Raiders WR core last year. He ended up getting a TD last year out of his….2 receptions for the whole year. Last but not least is Nelson Agholor. Yes, that Nelson Agholor who was dropping balls left and right for the Eagles. He is my other pick to stay on the roster just because of name recognition. If the Raiders had 6 receivers, Zay Jones and Nelson Agholor are my picks to make it. It’s surprising that a receiver that was seen at least as a WR2 in Philly, could actually be cut from training camp, but that is where he is at now. With the Raiders, him and Zay Jones have a chance to have a resurgence in their careers and move up the depth chart.
Cornerback: Prince Amukamara, Trayvon Mullen, Damon Arnette, Lamarcus Joyner, Amik Robertson, Isaiah Johnson, Nevin Lawson
I think the cuts and decisions are already made for this group, but I think the battles for who gets more playing time could be interesting. There are 7 corners mentioned above, only because Nevin Lawson saw some playing time last season due to lack of talent in the secondary. That is really all that is going for him. I think he will get cut and the Raiders will roll with an extra young but promising secondary. Outside of Prince Amukamara and Lamarcus Joyner, the players named above that will make the roster are either rookies or second-year players.
Trayvon Mullen was starting to come into his own at the end of the season, he should be better this year. Damon Arnette and Amik Robertson are both scrappy, physical guys. They will see some playing time for sure. I think Isaiah Johnson still needs some work, but as a young player still developing, he will be solid as the last man on the depth chart for the Raiders at Corner. Most are saying that Lamarcus Joyner will be the slot corner. Meaning other than that, Trayvon Mullen and Prince Amukamara are the go-to corners for the team. Joyner and Prince’s veteran presence should be good for this extremely young cornerback core.
Free Safety: Erik Harris, Damarious Randall
I alluded to it early but the Raiders secondary was awful. The Raiders secondary is already looking better even if the names they signed are not the biggest. Between Jeff Heath and Damarious Randall, that is already better than some names we had in the secondary last year. (DJ Swearinger anyone?) The Strong Safety position is not really a battle we have to watch, Jonathan Abram is a box safety and will handle plays with those situations and Jeff Heath should handle the rest.
This Free Safety position battle is much more interesting. In dark times, many players will step up to try to show their worth. Erik Harris is one of those names. He became a household name for Raiders fans and he had many performances that stuck with fans. Including two pick 6’s last year. Then, the Raiders bring in Damarious Randall, a younger and more productive safety, well, except for last year.
Excluding his last year with the Browns, he had at least 3 interceptions per year. Definitely not bad at all. I imagine the Browns let him walk because of a big goose egg for interceptions last year. While I think both players will see considerable playing time, there’s always a fight to see who gets more. A constant battle for playing time will only make these players better in the end.
Player To Breakout: Clelin Ferrell
Last year he was the rookie to watch from the Raiders. This year he is the Raiders 2020 training camp player to breakout. Mike Mayock has been getting a lot of flack for taking Clelin Ferrell at 4 in the 2019 NFL Draft. While there was other and better talent at that selection, Ferrell was a better scheme fit. The thing about it is that Clelin Ferrell didn’t play badly in the slightest last year. He did a lot of things that don’t show up on the stat sheet.
He pressured the QB, contained the edge, fulfilled his duties as a defensive end. But because he was the 4th overall pick last season, some have already labeled him a bust without watching a lick of Raiders football last season. He had 4.5 sacks last year, I think he will at least double that number and silence some of his critics. His teammate on the other defensive end, Maxx Crosby, got 10 sacks last year. It’s time for Ferrell to do the same and become a solid duo for the Raiders.
Rookie To Watch: Damon Arnette
The rookie to watch in the Raiders 2020 training camp is Damon Arnette. Some would have thought I went with Henry Ruggs III as it was a consensus amongst most fans that he was the lowest out of the trio of Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, and Henry Ruggs III. However, the Raiders still got one of the trio so while it is a rookie I will watch, it is not THE rookie to watch. The Raiders taking Damon Arnette was a shock. As you can see in the tweet below when I watched the pick be announced (drunk as hell if I may add.)
So yeah, that was definitely a shock for at least me. This could be a defining pick for Mike Mayock. As many weren’t high on Clelin Ferrell or Damon Arnette, some are questioning Mike Mayock’s ability to draft. Even though he has hit on some middle-round picks for sure. However, if Clelin Ferrell never pans out, and Damon Arnette has less than a 1st round worthy year, some people are only going to criticize Mayock even more.
Fantasy Sleeper: Bryan Edwards
To be fair, I don’t really like a lot of the Raiders’ options for fantasy. I think Derek Carr and Josh Jacobs could have good years due to the offensive pieces added. But as far as sleepers go, Bryan Edwards has to be the guy. Derek Carr has compared him to Anquan Boldin AND Larry Fitzgerald. Those are both lofty comparisons for a rookie. If he can pan out on those and make himself known as a go-to target, he might be the RedZone threat for Derek Carr. With his big body, he might be the TD getter for the Raiders, and we all know that TDs win fantasy leagues.