Jon Gruden doesn’t want everyone to keep talking about Antonio Brown and his supposed distractions. Fair enough. But in some ways, he’s right to snap us all out of the AB drama because there is an entire football team to think about here that is not only trying to prepare for the season, but has a number of undrafted rookies making a serious push for the roster.
“We might have five undrafted players make the team, that’s the story most people are missing,” said Gruden.
That is pretty interesting, honestly. I hadn’t really though too much about that specific fact. That’s a lot of undrafted players making a push. And some of them could come at the cost of players Gruden himself has selected in his first two drafts with the team.
Which five undrafted rookies could he be referring to? These guys right here.
P A.J. Cole
The punter is a virtual lock to make the roster. He already beat out 2018 fifth round pick Johnny Townsend and continues to play well enough to keep the Raiders eyes from straying toward the waiver wire to find their punter.
FB Alec Ingold
With Keith Smith out with a knee injury, Ingold has stepped up and impressed enough to give the Raiders serious pause as to whether he can be their new fullback. Evan Groat put together a pretty detailed look at how Ingold may have earned himself a roster spot. Smith played most of the game tonight in Winnipeg, so clearly the Raiders are looking to see if he can fight to keep his job.
WR Keelan Doss
If Doss doesn’t make the roster, it’s purely because it’s a numbers game. That number being how many receivers it makes logical sense to keep on the roster. Right now the favorites for the squad are Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, Ryan Grant, JJ Nelson, Hunter Renfrow, and Dwayne Harris. That means either Doss would have to beat one of them out or convince the Raiders he’s good enough for them to carry seven wide receivers. That’s a tough call.
DT Anthony Rush
The 6-5, 340-pounder was a force in the middle again in Winnipeg. He too would have to beat out an incumbent, but if they let him go, it’s hard to imagine him clearing waivers. He’s a massive human being and knows how to use that size. Guys like that are not common.
CB Keisean Nixon
Nixon was already having a good preseason and Thursday night he was absolutely lights out. I will have to look at the tape, but I didn’t see a single catch made on him. With last year’s fourth round pick Nick Nelson struggling, Nixon is a serious threat to take his job.
C Andre James
James would be the sixth possible undrafted free agent. I probably wouldn’t have him on here except that Gruden has mentioned him a couple times of late, including after the game tonight. James has played well, but he is behind Jordan Devey as the backup center. Devey has stepped up as the starting right guard while Gabe Jackson is injured, but can still also be the reserve center. James is a converted tackle, so it’s no wonder he is surprising Gruden as he is. Could he make the team as the backup center while Devey is filling in at right guard? Perhaps. He will be a shoo in for the practice squad at very least.