One name to keep an eye on during Raiders training camp is Dillon Stoner, a versatile wide receiver who could end up making the 53-man roster.
The journey of an undrafted free agent is not for everyone, and one member of the Las Vegas Raiders is taking the long way. Everyone wants an opportunity, but you don’t get to decide what that opportunity looks like. When Dillon Stoner didn’t hear his name called on draft day, he understood what that meant.
The type of opportunity was irrelevant to him.
"“Your phone starts ringing and you think this is the call, but it was setting up free agents.” Stoner said referencing draft day in an interview. “Going back to the pre-draft process, I felt like I knew the Raiders well, they knew me well and it felt like a good fit.”"
Stoner signed a deal with Las Vegas as an undrafted free agent in May of 2021. Fans might remember Stoner from the 2021 preseason as the savvy slot man hauled in five catches for 91 yards over three games.
He started the 2021 season on the practice squad, which was a different space to find himself in after having success and playing at every level leading up to the NFL. He was recently featured in an interview on Talk of the Town, episode 10, in his hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Stoner attended Jenks High School, capturing four OSSAA Class 6A State Championships, en route to becoming a productive slot receiver and reliable return man at Oklahoma State.
He was a member of the active roster for six games during the 2021 season, playing primarily on special teams.
“For the young guys listening, that’s your ticket in,” he said referencing special teams. “You gotta play special teams and your role will develop from there.”
His confidence never wavered though once he got his opportunity. He credits teammates with helping him become more acclimated.
“The biggest guy that helped me the most was Zay Jones,” Stoner says. “He took me under his wing and taught me how he learned the plays and I kind of adopted that and after I felt like I could breathe and manage it all. Shoutout to Zay but really all those guys in that room. Nobody gave you the cold shoulder if you asked for help.”
Despite second-year wide receiver Dillon Stoner starting the 2022 training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, it doesn’t discredit his career and what he’s accomplished along the way to Las Vegas.
Now, he’s tasked with getting healthy and improving heading into year three, crediting lead-by-example teammates like Derek Carr.
“Guys like him that have been doing it for so long, every day is a consistent day,” Stoned explained. “It’s not about how good are you, it’s about how consistently are you performing well.”
As camp heats up in Las Vegas, a new name has emerged among the Raiders defense. Who is this player and how does he fit in with the team?
Having a history of being productive on special teams should certainly help Stoner continue to climb and acclimate himself. Slot receivers have long been productive in McDaniels’ offense, so it will be interesting to watch as he continues to develop his craft as a pro and how that might have an effect on the roster. First, it’s getting back healthy.