The preseason is extremely important for rookies. Whether it's a first-round pick looking to get some reps and give fans a preview of what the future has in store, or an undrafted free agent vying to make the team, it’s important for the youngins to get off to a hot start. The Las Vegas Raiders’ and Seattle Seahawks’ rookies will look to do exactly that in the first preseason game.
With Seattle only having three draft picks last April, there won’t be a whole lot of first-year players squaring off against each other on Saturday. Plus, the team’s second-round and first pick of the draft, D’Wayne Eskridge, is on the physically unable to perform list and won’t play. However, there still are a few guys who will be fighting for either playing time or a roster spot that should make things interesting.
Malcolm Koonce vs. Stone Forsythe
The Raiders drafted Koonce to improve the team’s pass rush, and his 17 career sacks and 119 pressures should go a long way toward that goal. However since he came from Buffalo, he must prove himself against a significantly higher level of competition. Going up and winning against a former SEC left tackle will be the first step in proving that.
As for Forsythe, he was a sixth-round pick but has reportedly been getting run with the ones and making the most of it. That’s likely due to his pass blocking skills as that’s where he excelled in college, recording a career pass blocking efficiency rate of 98.0, per Pro Football Focus. That should make for some fun one-on-one battles out on the edge this Saturday between Koonce and Forsythe
Now, Koonce has been taking some reps as an off-ball linebacker, so that might limit some of the back and forth between these two, but we should get at least a few reps of them going at it.
Dillon Stoner vs. Tre Brown
How about a battle between a couple of college rivals in the first preseason game? Brown got the better of Stoner in college, as the wideout only managed to catch two passes on three targets for four yards when covered by the cornerback. The former Cowboy even failed to haul in a single reception against the former Sooner in two out of the four games they played against each other.
Stoner will get a chance for redemption this time around. Hopefully, he’ll have more success against Brown in the pros because the wideout is currently a long shot to make the Raiders’ roster. Realistically, he’s vying for a spot on Las Vegas’ or someone else’s practice squad.
Matt Bushman vs. Jon Rhattigan
Bushman isn’t your typical rookie. He turns 26-years-old in November as he started his college career at the age of 21 after serving a Mormon mission. Regardless, the BYU product is an impressive player.
In college, he led the Cougars in receiving yards three years in a row and finished his career with 125 catches for 1,719 yards and nine touchdowns. Those figures would have been higher had Bushman not torn his Achilles before the 2020 season even started. That injury and his age are likely the primary reasons why he went undrafted.
The tight end has an outside shot at making Las Vegas’ final roster and luckily, he should have a favorable matchup in the first preseason game.
Rhattigan is a linebacker from Army who is currently listed as a second-stringer on the Seahawks’ depth chart, but he has apparently been struggling as the team recently moved a fullback to the position group because of the rookie’s struggles. That could mean a big day for Bushman is in store.