Written by Andrew Weidman – Lead Writer/Partner
Training Camp is upon us! The time for football is officially back. We are no longer in the boring season of baseball, as some fans are happy for, and we can finally see the gridiron in the horizon. For the Raiders, they are looking to build off of a very successful season last year, that saw them make the playoffs for the first since 2003.
The team did have a first-round exit, but that was mostly due to astounding quarterback Derek Carr injuring himself late in the season. With training camp arriving, its time to put the 2016-2017 season in the rear view mirrors, and drive towards the new season. Training camp is a time for coaches to evaluate the talent that each player has, and decide who is ready to come out of the tunnel on Sunday (or Thursday or Monday.)
Every year, there are always a few players you want to keep your eye on during training camp, and especially for a team like the Raiders, who are eyeing a return to the playoffs, evaluating that talent is ever so important.
Training Camp is, mostly, a time for coaches to evaluate young talent. However, Lynch is a exception. Lynch retired after the 2015-2016 season, however, that retirement lasted just one year, as Lynch came out of retirement and signed a two-year contract with the Raiders. At 31 years of age, Lynch is well past his prime, and over the average age for a running back in the NFL. We know the talent is there, as well as the experience in the playoffs. The evaluation of Lynch will be strictly on how much his workload should be during the season. The Raiders have some very serviceable backups for Lynch, and should see about limiting his workload.
The Raiders selected Conley with their first selection in the 2017 draft. A projected top ten selection, Conley slid down the draft board after a woman accused Conley of rape. The Raiders conducted an investigation and gave Conley a polygraph test, which he passed. Similar to Laremy Tunsil last year, a great player fell down the board because of an off the field issue. Conley will enter camp as the fourth corner back, behind Sean Smith, David Amerson, and Travis Carrie. Should he show his true potential, he should easily pass Carrie for that starting nickel corner position. Conley is key to beefing up their secondary to go along with an outstanding front seven. If the Raiders are to make the playoffs again, Conley, and the secondary in general, must perform at a high level.
The big defensive tackle out of UCLA was taken in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. At 6-3 320 pounds, Vanderdoes has the measurables you want as your inside defensive tackle. Vanderdoes tore his ACL during the 2015 season, and didn’t have a particularly great year as a senior, but the Raiders saw enough to invest a third round selection for him. The coaches should be evaluating his durability and fatigue, two issues that result from a major injury. If Eddie has this injury in the past, he will make a fine rotational player inside with Darius Latham and Justin Ellis