Oakland Raiders: 5 Unheralded Players Making a Splash at Training Camp
Jun 10, 2014; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders cornerback Neiko Thorpe (31) at organized team activities at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
1. Neiko Thorpe – Cornerback
Neiko Thorpe is a player that I, in my extensive discussions of the Raiders secondary situation, had essentially written off as a camp body. An also-ran. But reports on Monday indicated he was spending time working with the first team defense, prompting me to ask the question “who the hell is Neiko Thorpe?”
You can find some of those answers here. Neiko Thorpe, an undrafted free agent out of Auburn in 2012, has appeared in 9 NFL games for the Kansas City Chiefs, recording an astounding FIVE TACKLES in the NFL. He has also recorded a total of nine tackles for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League, and one fumble recovery. Coming into the 2014 season, it’s safe to say that no one besides Neiko and his mother was thinking he would be taking first team snaps during the first week of Raiders camp, but here we are.
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Thorpe, at 6’1″ and about 200, is one of the taller, longer cornerbacks that Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen seem to be showing a preference for with recent acquisitions. Much like 7th round pick TJ Carrie, Thorpe also possesses excellent speed, in the range of a 4.40 in the 40-yard dash, with some reports having him as fast as a 4.34. He also has a long reach and a good vertical jump, allowing him to match up well physically with at least your average NFL wide receiver. Much like 4th round draft pick Keith McGill, Thorpe also has a background as a safety, having played 13 games at the position while at Auburn. He is part of a youth movement of versatile, athletic DB’s underway in the Raider organization, and like many of the other acquisitions, has some background on special teams, as most of his snaps in Kansas City came in kick coverage. With DJ Hayden still on the PUP list, Keith McGill apparently still hampered by an ankle injury, and Tarell Brown briefly slowed by an illness, Thorpe has taken advantage and impressed the coaches enough to warrant at least a few snaps with the first team. Already he has shown some ability when matched in camp against veteran receivers like Greg Little, and it will be interesting to see if he is able to remain impressive when matched against James Jones or Rod Streater – or against the Vikings and Lions receivers in early preseason games.