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Training camp: 5 under-the-radar players to keep an eye on

A few guys you might not have heard of, but you’ll want to know soon

Tyler Hall
Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Since the Las Vegas Raiders are still in the beginning stages of training camp, it’s understandable that most of the early talk has been about big names like Jimmy Garoppolo, Tyree Wilson and Josh Jacobs, just to name a few. However, this time of year is really when the “under-the-radar” type of players make a name for themselves.

So, who are a few guys who fall into that category for the Raiders this month?

Tyler Hall

If we’re being technical, Tyler Hall could be considered treading water with his head just above the radar line coming into August. That’s because he made several impactful plays during the final stretch of last season, picking up a sack, six defensive stops and four pass breakups in just seven games with three starts.

However, Hall is still just a year removed from being cut by the Los Angeles Rams and enters training camp in Las Vegas in another battle to make the roster this season. That being said, it’s an open competition for playing time in Las Vegas’ secondary during camp, so he could play his way into the starting lineup if he picks up where he left off.

Jesper Horsted

On paper, Jesper Horsted’s 2023 outlook looks pretty bleak. He enters the campaign fourth on the depth chart behind rookie second-round pick Micheal Mayer and veterans Austin Hooper and O.J. Howard. However, that could change quickly.

The Princeton product was a standout wide receiver in college who set just about every school record for the position. In the NFL, his regular season stats aren’t much to talk about as he was switching positions, but he’s been impressive during the three preseasons he’s participated in with 21 catches for 342 yards and five touchdowns in 10 games.

New England Patriots v Las Vegas Raiders
Jesper Horsted
Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images

Horsted also posted an 80.6 run-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus last August, so that could be a sign he’s adjusted to playing tight end and could earn some playing time alongside Mayer this fall.

Drake Thomas

I almost feel like I shouldn’t include Drake Thomas on this list because he has received quite a bit of hype since signing with the Raiders after the NFL Draft. However, he is still a rookie undrafted free agent who the common fan might not know much about.

Thomas was extremely productive during his last two seasons at NC State, logging 200 total tackles, 32.5 for loss and 13.5 sacks. In the more advanced metrics, he had 48 defensive stops last season which were enough to land in the top 25 among FBS linebackers, and he ranked second with 46 pressures, per PFF.

If those figures don’t command your attention, he was the seventh-best backer against the run last year with an 88.4 PFF grade. Without Denzel Perryman in the lineup, the Raiders are going to be looking for a backer who can impact the ground game and Thomas could sneak up the depth chart by emerging as that guy.

Sincere McCormick

Unfortunately, we were robbed of getting a chance to watch Sincere McCormick play a year ago as he was placed on injured reserve just a few weeks after signing as an undrafted free agent. That was disappointing because he was electric in college.

In three years at UTSA, the former Roadrunner ran for 3,929 yards (5.4 yards per carry) and 34 rushing touchdowns while also mixing in 66 catches, 509 receiving yards and one more score through the air. He proved to be a dynamic and versatile weapon out of the backfield and that’s something Josh McDaniels covets from running backs in his offense.

With an open competition in the Raiders’ backfield, especially while Josh Jacobs isn’t practicing, expect to see McCormick get a good amount of run and he could start turning some heads once the preseason rolls around.

Nesta Jade Silvera

Like a lot of guys on this list, Nesta Jade Silvera faces an uphill battle to make Las Vegas’ 53-man roster as he’s buried on the depth chart to begin training camp. However, defensive tackles Neil Farrell Jr. and Byron Young beginning practice on injured lists should create more opportunities for Silvera to stand out.

The Miami transfer and former Arizona State Sun Devil has an impressive get-off and can be a disruptive run defender. He spent the better part of the last three seasons in the offense’s backfield, racking up 18 tackles for loss during that time.

Creating negative plays against the run was something the Raiders’ front seven struggled to do last season, so the undrafted rookie could catch the coaching staff’s eyes by making the most out of the extra reps he’s getting.