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Raiders undrafted free agents who could stick

Garber, Butler, Pola-Mao, Webb join positions groups needing more depth

NCAA Football: Southern California at California
Cal quarterback Chase Garbers inked an undrafted free agent deal with Las Vegas. The former Golden Bear fits the bill as a developmental prospect head coach Josh McDaniels prefers at the position.
John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 NFL Draft may have ended after the 262nd pick was announced and flashed on the myriad tracking tickers at the bottom of the screen, however, that wasn’t the true culmination of the process. Before the pick was officially entered into the books and immediately after, teams were furiously trying to snag the numerous prospects as undrafted free agents.

Our Raiders undrafted free agent tracker shows you just how busy Las Vegas is after the annual event. Here’s a list of the group (alphabetical order):

  • Darien Butler, LB, Arizona State
  • Qwynnterrio Cole, DB, Louisville
  • Bryce Cosby, S, Ball State
  • Cole Fotheringham, TE, Utah
  • Chase Garbers, QB, California
  • Justin Hall, WR, Ball State
  • Sincere McCormick, RB, USTA
  • Bamidele Olaseni, OL, Utah
  • Isaiah Pola-Mao, S, USC
  • Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, DL, Notre Dame
  • Tre Turner, WR, Virginia Tech
  • Zach VanValkenburg, LB, Iowa
  • Sam Webb, CB, Missouri Western

Before we dive into the undrafted free agents who could stick, let’s start with: Until the Raiders officially announce their undrafted haul, there’s a chance someone on the list above isn’t a member of the Silver & Black. Case in point: Turner. He initially agreed to an undrafted deal with the Minnesota Vikings, only for the Raiders to offer him a better signing bonus and to Las Vegas he went.

NCAA Football: Richmond at Virginia Tech
Tre Turner (11) leaps above a defender for the catch during Virginia Tech’s game against Richmond.
Ryan Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Of that list above, there are five particular undrafted free agents with a solid shot of sticking based on their accomplishments at their respective programs and the need for depth and competition at Raider position groups. Turner was already mentioned — due to the money invested up front — and the four are: Garber, Butler, Pola-Mao and Webb.

Turner. Initially headed to Minnesota on a deal with $2,500 up front, Las Vegas offered $40,000 and the Virginia Tech wideout decided to head to the desert. He along with Hall join eight other wider receivers currently on the Raiders roster. Turner was an accomplished receiver for the Hokies racking up 2,292 yard and 14 touchdowns in 43 games. The 6-foot-1, 184-pounder also clocked in a 4.51 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine. He parlayed his high school basketball skills into a box-out, leap and high point the ball wide receiver he is today and that no doubt drew the Raiders attention. If he can maintain that style of play and prove he can separate and uncover against NFL corners, Turner has a decent shot of making the roster.

Garbers. The Cal Golden Bear fits the bill of developmental quarterback. Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels spoke of acquiring a signal caller that can be steeped in the system for a few years this offseason and, with a weaker 2022 quarterback class, Vegas was able to snare Garbers. While he doesn’t leap off the page in terms of athleticism, arm strength or even accuracy, the 6-foot-2, 225-pounder is a mold of clay. If he develops a better sense of timing and anticipation, the Raiders can work on the rest. He’s a safe, conservative-type quarterback that avoids big mistakes, but his lack of zip allows defenders to break on his throws. All that said, Derek Carr is the unquestioned starter and Nick Mullens represents the best option at QB2. Garbers has a good shot of competing with and potentially beating out QB3 Garrett Gilbert.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 25 Colorado at Arizona State
Arizona State linebacker Darien Butler (20) is familiar with new Las Vegas Raiders linebacker coach Antonio Pierce from the latter’s time with the Sun Devils.
Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Butler. If there was one undrafted free agent the Raiders have familiarity with it’s the Sun Devils linebacker. New Vegas linebacker coach Antonio Pierce was Arizona State’s defensive coordinator and knows all too well what Butler brings to the table. While he may be undersized at 5-foot-11 and 221 pounds, Butler does bring ferocity to the table along with cover skills at the linebacker position. He also doesn’t let his relative lack of bulk and imposing frame deter him from being a stonewall hitter. His run-and-hit mentality along with turn-and-chase ability makes him appealing for both defense and special teams. And for any prospect, earning a special teams spot is the fastest way onto the 53-man roster.

Pola-Mao. At 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, the nephew of hall of fame safety Troy Polamalu definitely looks the part. His uncle, Kennedy Polamalu, is the Raiders new running backs coach. Pola-Mao’s best season as a Trojan was the 2019 year where he picked off four passes to go along with 73 total tackles showcasing both the ability to bring down the ballcarrier and snare interceptions, when given the chance. Based on his size, smoothness and instincts, he can make a case for himself at the safety spot — something that doesn’t have supreme depth — while carving out a role on special teams as a gunner.

Webb. A shade under 6-foot-1, he dominated the lower competition showcasing impressive press-man skills to along with ball skills. He shadowed receivers well and kept his eye on and made plays on throws his way. Webb has the prototypical frame and demeanor to excel as a physical bump-and-run type corner. He does join a position group with seven currently on the roster but if he can showcase his wares at the NFL-level, he’s got a shot. He’ll have work on his eyes — he can get caught looking into the backfield — but his jumping ability and anticipation can’t be ignored (career seven interceptions and 39 pass breakups).

NFL Combine
Missouri Western’s Sam Webb clocked a 4.48 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine.
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images