The Oakland Raiders released their first depth chart, Aug. 10. Headlining some of the surprises are some position changes and incumbents who have fallen behind because of injuries.
Khalil Mack shocked a lot of people, because he is listed as DE. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who follows the team, because they have been adamant about him rushing the passer. My worries are about his long-term development. How many times did Jacksonville need a DE when JDR was head coach there?
Speaking of high draft-picks. D.J. Hayden claimed his rightful spot a top the depth chart. Then again, it shouldn’t be an accomplishment for the player drafted No. 12 in 2013. Moreover, it is a testament to the lack of talent the Raiders have at the position. Regardless, Hayden has displayed the right mentality so far in the offseason. Hayden said he plans to play all-out, without worrying about mistakes.
Then there were the snubbs. Rod Streater has yet to practice in training camp, so it is no surprise he has fallen behind. The Raiders have signed lots of competition at the position. Streater has the versatility to reclaim the spot, however, the coaching staff needs to see it.
Other injured players tumbling include Sio Moore. He is listed as a Will linebacker on the depth chart. The Will and Sam have some slightly different specifics, but I think Moore is better fitted at the Sam. Either way, he faces a tough challenge getting back into the starter role. Ray-Ray Armstrong has the coaching staff praising him constantly. Then there is the starting Will, former Super Bowl MVP, former Trojan and Seahawk Malcolm Smith. Smith’s versatility in coverage better suits the other two linebackers. Plus, Ken Norton Jr. is familiar with him from Seattle.
How about the Raiders other top position battles?
Well, the right tackle position has pretty much been Menelik Watson’s to lose. The former second round pick is listed as the starter, despite missing some time. Austin Howard and his $6 million dollars who? The tight end position will probably be an on-going one, throughout the season.
Mychael Rivera is listed as a No. 2, despite media praising him as a camp stand-out. His chemistry with Derek Carr gives him an advantage over the rookie third round pick Clive Watford. However, Lee Smith is the one getting the nod for the first pre-season bout. The primary blocker listed as a starter probably has more to do with the offense’s commitment to running the ball then anything else.
Remember Trent Richardson? Vic Tafur said his chances of making the team were 50/50, but I would put them higher. Helu is currently listed as the No. 2 runner behind Latavius Murray. However, Helu is primarily a receiving back. With Marcel Reece and Rivera taking most of the snaps at H-back, Helu might be repetitive. Maybe, just maybe, Richardson can seize the spot. The slimmed down Richardson has too much potential not to.
Yes, it is only preseason. Lets not read into these too much just yet. Not to be corny, but it is not where you start on the depth chart, but where you finish. The Raiders will sort out their depth chart more in a preseason game against the Rams.