Raiders make good on promise of open competitions

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

If you didn't believe the Raiders would honestly hold open competitions at all positions, you are now a believer.

Since the beginning of Dennis Allen and Reggie McKenzie's time with the Raiders, they have preached there would be an open competition at all positions. Most times when a coach or GM says such things, it's just lip service. Lately it has become increasingly apparent those were not empty words.

The most recent example is the one that has everyone sitting up and taking notice. That is of course the reports that Terrelle Pryor has been named the starter despite the team trading draft picks to acquire Matt Flynn and paying him $6.5 million this season.

Choosing Pryor over Flynn is just the latest and most recognizable, but they aren't even the only examples at the quarterback position.

The team drafted Tyler Wilson in the fourth round but he was outplayed in training camp by undrafted rookie Matt McGloin. Everyone expected the Raiders to ignore that Wilson had been beaten and go with Wilson based on his draft status. But the code of open competition was honored ahead of the admission of a wasted fourth round pick and Wilson was waived in favor of McGloin.

Another drafted player to be cut was seventh round pick David Bass who had a pretty good in preseason. But he was outplayed by undrafted rookie Ryan Robinson so Robinson was kept instead.

Without the idea of open competition last season, Rod Streater wouldn't have risen from undrafted free agent to starter ahead of his drafted counterpart, Juron Criner, of whom the team chose in the fifth round.

Same goes for 2012 third round pick Tony Bergstrom who was beaten out for the starting left guard spot in minicamp by undrafted free agent Lucas Nix. Bergstrom wasn't cut from the team, but his third round status was not giving him any special preference either. Even though that third round status was the highest on the team in that draft. He's now on IR with a foot injury.

The team held onto punter Marquette King after he signed as an undrafted free agent in 2012. They then brought in Chris Kluwe this off-season as a proven player at his position. He offered a consistent veteran presence and it meant he came in as the favorite to win the job with the Raiders. He was the first team punter from the moment he arrived and through training camp. But by the time the preseason got going, King had earned equal time with Kluwe. Then, by the time preseason was over, King had "out-punted" him, per Dennis Allen, and won the job. Anyone who watched the games this preseason would find that fact impossible to deny.

The real promise of open competition could make the Raiders an attractive destination for undrafted free agents or anyone else looking for a place to prove their worth in the league. That may not make the team a juggernaut just yet but it will go a long way toward their plans in the future.

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