Oakland Raiders training camp in Napa Valley has come to an end. Let’s take a look at which players had the best few weeks of camp for the Silver and Black.
The Oakland Raiders are ready to come back to the Bay Area after a highly productive training camp up in Napa Valley. While the first preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale wasn’t great, we can sense that the Raiders got better in Napa for the season ahead.
What we’re going to do is take a look back at a handful of guys that really impressed in camp. Even if only one guy got significantly better in camp, then it was totally worth it. These four players highlighted their respective groups in Napa. Let’s get ready for the Los Angeles Rams!
This group was a little tough to dissect. A lot of the best offensive players on the Raiders did not play in the first preseason game with Arizona. There were a few guys that had to sort out some injuries on the offensive side of the ball in camp. One guy that seems to have had a great camp is tight end Clive Walford.
He shined in the first preseason game against Arizona. His 30-yard reception from quarterback EJ Manuel was the best play in a lousy game for the Raiders. Oakland will carry three tight ends. While he is third behind veteran Lee Smith and recently acquired Jared Cook, Walford has been a consistently productive player at camp and should be recognized for that.
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Again, this one was tough because there were a bunch of Raiders that took their game to the next level on the defensive side of the ball in camp. We should expect some of the second or third-year players to take that leap forward as professionals. The best example of this is safety Karl Joseph.
Sure, he had that big hit on Cardinals running back David Johnson in the preseason game, but Joseph has his health and looks to be a star in the back-end of this Raiders defense. He was a standout in the Big 12 at West Virginia. It would not be shocking to see Joseph make his first trip to the Pro Bowl in 2017.
While three of the top four picks for the Raiders did not have good camps in cornerback Gareon Conley, safety Obi Melifonwu and left tackle David Sharpe, there were a bunch of other first-year players that impressed in their few weeks in Napa. It’s tough to pick one, but we’ll have to go with third-round pick in defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes out of UCLA.
Though he didn’t do a ton in his first preseason game, Vanderdoes asserted himself as a starter almost out of the gate in Raiders camp. His ability to bull rush and use his hands in the defensive interior could make him a steal in the third round. Had he not gotten hurt in 2015, Vanderdoes would have been a first-round pick out of UCLA. He might be special, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Oakland did make a few splashes in free agency. Though we won’t really know how general manager Reggie McKenzie did in that department until the season starts, it’s hard to talk about Raiders camp without mentioning the impact running back Marshawn Lynch has had on this team.
He won’t make his team debut until tomorrow, but Lynch gives the Raiders running back group some bite it desperately needed. Lynch has been a good mentor to young guys like Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington and rookie Elijah Hood. It’s been good to have Lynch with the Silver and Black.