With the Raiders claiming just one player among the players waived Friday, they still have some much needed tinkering to do with the roster. Two players were just got waived by the division rival Broncos, both of whom could be worthwhile additions to the Raiders.
The Broncos claimed C James Ferentz and TE Mitchell Henry off waivers and in corresponding moves released RB Montee Ball and C Gino Gradkowski.
Running back and center are two positions the Raiders should be looking to add players to the mix. Both Ball and Gradkowski had made the Broncos' initial 53-man roster.
Ball is a former second round pick after a monster season at Wisconsin. He ran for 559 yards as a rookie in 2013, averaging 4.7 yards per carry. He played in just 5 games last season due to injury. In his absence, C.J. Anderson had a fantastic season and helped the Broncos reach the AFC Championship game. Ball had fallen behind Anderson and Ronnie Hillman.
When the Raiders signed Trent Richardson, they had hoped he could be at least a solid backup behind Murray. Richardson didn't work out. Ball has never been labeled a bust as Richardson had.
Here is what Mile High Report had to say about the reason Ball was released.
Ball just didn't look like the same back that impressed during the second half of his rookie season. He looked slow, lacked vision, and was being outplayed by every running back on the roster.
It seems hard to fathom a 24-year-old back could be worn down with nothing left. He will likely be claimed. The Raiders are fourth in the order so they have a shot to be that team if they are interested.
Another position the Raiders could use an upgrade is backup center. That's where Gino Gradkowski comes in. The former 4th round pick out of Delaware started the entire 2013 season at center for the Baltimore Ravens. He was terrible that season, ranking as the worst starting center in the NFL by Pro Football Focus. Gradkowski was demoted to backup in 2014 and was traded him to the Broncos this offseason for a late round pick.
The question here though is if he is an upgrade to Tony Bergstrom at that backup center spot?
Based again on their PFF grades, Gradkowski fared far better than Bergstrom this preseason. Bergstrom was the worst rated center in the league by PFF (-10.0). Gradkowski was the 11th highest rated center (+2.2) and excelled as a run blocker.
It makes you think.