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11 current Raiders players who are high-performing underdogs

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From Darren Waller to Hunter Renfrow, Las Vegas’ roster is filled with ‘dogs who have exceeded expectations

Oakland Raiders v Denver Broncos
Darren Waller
Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

It’s “Underdog Week” at SB Nation as part of our ongoing theme weeks.

With that in mind, let’s discuss the players on the Raiders’ 2020 roster who are underdogs for various reasons.

This large group is presented in alphabetical order:

Oakland Raiders v New York Jets
Trent Brown
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Trent Brown:
The 49ers drafted Brown in the seventh round in 2015. He was a part-time starter, but they gave up on him after three seasons, leading to a trade to New England ... where Brown won a Super Bowl ring as Tom Brady’s left tackle. Brown then cashed in on a four-year, $66 million deal with the Raiders in 2019, making him the highest paid lineman in the NFL at the time.

Oakland Raiders v Los Angeles Chargers
Maxx Crosby
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Maxx Crosby:
A fourth-round pick out of small-school Eastern Michigan last year, Crosby was considered a project and a work-in-progress for the Raiders. Yet, he had 10 sacks and was runner-up as the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2019.

Chicago Bears v Oakland Raiders
Maurice Hurst
Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images

Maurice Hurst:
A lot of teams took Hurst off their draft board because of medical concerns. He fell to the fifth round of the 2018 draft but has been great for the Raiders. In Week 2 of his rookie season, Hurst recorded his first career sack against the Denver Broncos.

Kansas City Chiefs v Chicago Bears
Nick Kwiatkoski
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Nick Kwiatkoski:
Kwiatkoski started eight games for the Chicago Bears last season as an injury replacement for Danny Trevathan. He played great and parlayed it into a three-year, $21 million deal with the Raiders this offseason.

Seattle Seahawks v Los Angeles Rams
Cory Littleton
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Cory Littleton:
He entered the NFL with the Rams as an undrafted free agent. He worked his way from a special teamer to a starter. Now, he is considered a complete linebacker and he is getting paid like it. The Raiders signed him to a three-year, $36 million deal in March 2020.

Chiefs beat Raiders 40-9
Nicholas Morrow
Tammy Ljungblad/Kansas City Star/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Nicholas Morrow:
Morrow made the team as an undrafted free agent from a Division III school, which is pretty rare. He has stuck around the NFL since 2017.

Oakland Raiders v Denver Broncos
Hunter Renfrow
Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Hunter Renfrow:
Renfrew looks like your neighbor’s nephew, but don’t be fooled by the 24-year-old’s boyish looks. He went from a college walk-on to a Clemson legend and is now carving a niche as a third-down hero after being a fifth-round pick in the 2019 NFL draft.

Oakland Raiders v Denver Broncos
Jalen Richard
Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Jalen Richard:
This running back made the roster as an undrafted free agent in 2016 and earned a second contract. He is now a solid part of the Raiders’ offense.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 28 Louisiana Tech at Rice
Amik Robertson
Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Amik Robertson:
The rookie cornerback had a chance to go to LSU, but a knee injury in high school ended that and he instead played for Louisiana Tech. Robertson missed the combine because of an injury this year and was drafted by the Raiders with the 139th pick. At just 5’8 and playing like he’s 6’3, Robertson acts like he’s an underdog every time he takes to the field.

Oakland Raiders v Denver Broncos
Darren Waller
Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Darren Waller:
Having been suspended for the 2017 season for substance abuse issues, Waller was signed to the Raiders’ practice squad and has quickly developed into an upper-level tight end. He has since earned a new contract with the Raiders, averaging about $9 million a season. What a great underdog story.

Oakland Raiders v Denver Broncos
Tyrell William
Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Tyrell Williams:
Williams went from an undrafted free agent with the Chargers to a starting receiver getting paid more than $10 million a season.