The Las Vegas Raiders begin training camp next week with rookies starting things off before the veterans hit the facilities in Henderson Wednesday.
The Silver & Black are afforded an earlier than usual start time in part to their participation in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio on August 4. That kicks off the NFL preseason slate and the Raiders will go toe-to-toe with the Jacksonville Jaguars to kick off exhibition play.
Previously, I explored the Raiders’ weakest links heading into training camp. Let’s take a look at the team’s positions of strength in this one. Caveat: While the aforementioned spots may be robust, it doesn’t mean they can’t get even better.
Quarterback: Derek Carr is capable to captain Josh McDaniels’ offense and should have a strong 2022 campaign with the brilliant play caller. McDaniels has shown his penchant to adjust his offense around the quarterback. On the flipside, Carr has shown the ability to adjust to different play callers throughout his career. In Carr, McDaniels’ gets an accurate and strong-armed signal caller who can make the necessary pre-snap adjustments. The backup quarterback spot will sort itself out during camp and McDaniels did bring in his New England Patriots pupil Jarrett Stidham to the group this offseason.
Left Tackle: Kolton Miller is the anchor on the offensive line. The left tackle is a stout presence in both pass protection and in the run game and is one of the better blindside protectors in the league. His size and movement ability are prototypical and Miller has turned the skeptics (after a rough rookie season) into believers as he is arguably the best lineman up front protecting Carr and opening lanes in the run game. Miller should be the one other linemen look to for leadership and guidance.
Wide Receiver: Davante Adams’ arrival gives Carr arguably the best (is there much an argument?) wide receiver he’s had in a Raider uniform. There will be little to no adjustment period needed as the pair have worked out together during the summers in year’s past and Adams should be a red zone monster for a team that struggled mightily in the money zone. Hunter Renfrow is a slot terror who makes defenders look foolish in coverage and will provide Carr with a reliable option — as usual. The other outside receiver needs to be figured out in camp, however. But there are good options there and it’ll be interesting to see if Mack Hollins can carve out snaps.
Tight End: Darren Waller is an absolute nightmare matchup as a receiving tight end who moves and catches the ball like a wideout. If healthy, Waller combines with Adams and Renfrow to give Carr a fearsome trio of pass catchers. And it’ll be interesting to see how McDaniels moves them around the formation to take advantage of matchups. Behind Waller is Foster Moreau who has deceptive athleticism in his own right. While he doesn’t have the blazing speed, he can breakaway from coverage and gain big yards after the catch. The 1-2 punch of Waller and Moreau give McDaniels the option to deploy two-tight end sets.
Edge Rusher: Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones are likely going to compete week in and week out on who can get the most sacks per game. The two can be an imposing set of pass rushers on the Raiders defense as they both exhibit uncanny energy and relentlessness. They’ll need to be equally stout run stoppers but as quarterback hunters, they’re among the best duos in the league. The depth behind them looks good on paper, but the Raiders need to shore that up in camp.
Linebacker: Mr. Hydrate Denzel Perryman is a seek-and-hit type linebacker who is an absolute hammerhead tackling machine. His presence at inside linebacker gives the Raiders defense a stout presence. Divine Deablo is the prototypical linebacker for today’s game as a big and fast linebacker who can stymie the run and cover on the backend. Keep an eye out for Jayon Brown. He was once an impressive mix of run stopper and cover man at inside linebacker.
Slot Cornerback: After a stellar rookie season, Nate Hobbs emerged as one of the top slot defenders in the league. Coupling solid size and speed with his tackling ability, Hobbs will be a dependable slot cover man who has the responsibility of covering the most slick and deceptive route runners in the league inside. He’s dabbled at outside corner too and it’ll be interesting to see if he mixes on the inside and outside when the Raiders are in the nickel alignment. The perimeter corner spots will be situated in camp.
Free Safety: Tre’Von Moehrig’s ability to go sideline-to-sideline and be the dependable center fielder gives Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham a young and improving deep safety. He’s shown the willingness to drop into the box and stymie the run, too. Moehrig does need to improve the ability to come down with the ball (he had a number of missed opportunities on interceptions his rookie season) but that’ll come with more time and reps.