During the early stages of Raiders training camp, it has been well documented the added depth and talent across the roster. But who of those added have a good chance of making the Raiders 53 man roster?
Upgrades to the linebacker, defensive line, and wide receiver positions has Raider Nation thinking this could finally be the year the team breaks through and becomes a playoff team for only the second time since 2003.
Despite the positive outlook, general manager, Mike Mayock isn’t resting on his laurels.
Mayock has stayed busy in recent weeks shuffling free agents in and out of camp, as well as hosting tryouts for various players, including quarterback Cardale Jones. What most fans don’t believe is many of the late additions by Mayock and Gruden have much of a chance to make the Raiders 53 man roster a few weeks from now.
Over the weekend, two more players were signed to the roster when Las Vegas signed un-retired linebacker Kyle Emmanuel and running back Theo Riddick. Then, because Mayock and Gruden never seem to be done looking for increased competition, the team signed defensive end Chris Smith. While none of the recent additions have the last name of Clowney nor Ngoakue, the addition of three veteran players shouldn’t be overlooked.
In an NFL season which is sure to be filled with uncertainty it’s a wise move for the Raiders to do their due diligence on free agents in the likelihood a COVID outbreak forces them to bring players in mid year.
It’s a long shot for many of the new additions to make the Raiders 53-man roster but a solid case can be made for both Theo Riddick and Kyle Emmanuel to make the team.
If you look at the current construction of the running back room – with the exception of Josh Jacobs – it’s currently a collection of change of pace backs with a very specific skill set.
Jalen Richard, Devontae Booker, Lynn Bowden Jr, and Theo Riddick will not be expected to pound the ball in between the tackles. All four have their greatest asset is in the passing game.
Riddick, 29, joins a crowded roster at the position but don’t be surprised if he finds his way onto the roster.
Riddick spent the first six years of his career as a member of the Detroit Lions and built a reputation as one of the league’s top receiving backs catching 285 passes for 2,238 yards and 14 touchdowns.
His best year was in 2015 when he caught 80 of 99 targets for 697 yards. A shoulder injury in training camp forced him to miss the entire 2019 campaign which would have been his first with the Denver Broncos.
If you have paid attention to the news coming out of training camp you would know that rookie Lynn Bowden Jr is progressing a bit slowly, especially in pass protection.
Just reading between the lines, this tells me two things:
- One, the team is concerned about Bowden’s ability to pick up the nuances of the running back position early in the season and,
- Two, Devontae Booker has not impressed Gruden with his opportunity in camp.
If healthy, Riddick is a proven player in this league who based on his track record offers more upside than Booker or Rod Smith who are both fighting to make the Raiders 53-man roster.
With only two weeks remaining in camp, Riddick has an uphill battle but if he can show he is healthy, and can still catch the ball and be effective with his pass blocking, he could steal a spot on the Raiders 53 man roster.
There’s no denying the linebacker position is in much better shape with the additions of Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski. After those two men, depth remains a concern.
Look no further than the 2019 season to see the importance of depth at linebacker. The position was riddled with injuries and things really went off the rails with the 12-game suspension of Vontaze Burfict.
Behind Littleton and Kwiatkoski is a suspect group of linebackers including Nicholas Morrow, Kyle Wilber, Justin Phillips, and rookies Tanner Muse and Javin White. While Muse and White have both generated positive comments from the Raiders coaching staff, they’re works in progress.
Kyle Emanuel played four seasons with the Chargers from 2015-2018 before unexpectedly retiring prior to 2019. In both the 2016 and 2017 seasons, Emanuel made 11 starts. NFL network’s Tom Pelissero reported that Emanuel had multiple teams interested in his services but opted to sign with the Raiders.
If Emanuel can make the Raiders 53 man roster, he would provide the Raiders with veteran depth and give Muse and White the proper time needed to develop as rookies.