The Las Vegas Raiders have had an interesting offseason as they prepare for the new football year. They completely revamped the offensive line, brought in Kenyan Drake to help Josh Jacobs, and brought in a ton of prospects for the coaching staff to evaluate.
They're in a tough AFC West division that's under control by the Kansas City Chiefs. Las Vegas will have to over-perform if they hope to make the playoffs, as it'll be a difficult task for this franchise. Even so, the offense seems ready to go, whereas the defense must improve.
The Raiders selected seven rookies in the 2021 NFL Draft, then signed 10 undrafted free agents as well. This Raiders team is very young and full of potential. However, it might take a few years for the team to become a legitimate playoff contender. Las Vegas has two stand-out players on the team right now that could make a huge impact on this team. One is entering the second season of his career, while the other is an undrafted free agent. With that said, here are two hidden gems on the Raiders roster.
Raiders hidden gems:
Many thought Bryan Edwards would burst onto the scene in his rookie campaign, but he wound up playing a limited role. He finished 2020 with just 15 targets, 11 receptions, 193 yards, and one touchdown. His 73.3% catching percentage proves he's efficient when the ball is thrown his way, which bodes well for his chances in 2021.
The Raiders don't have the best receiver core, as Darren Waller serves as the top pass option to Derek Carr. However, Edwards could be a nice surprise next year, as the coaching staff is already talking him up before training camp. At 6-3, Edwards can be a red-zone threat, as he has the size advantage over most cornerbacks in the league.
He's in a prime position to earn valuable playing time this year. However, he's likely to start the season off as the fourth option in the receiver group. The coaching staff will give Henry Ruggs III a chance to shine, Hunter Renfrow locks down the slot position, and John Brown is a veteran that could become a favorite target immediately. Don't count Edwards out just yet, as he could become a vital piece to the Raiders offense in the second half of the season.
Coming out of Boston College, it was surprising to see Max Richardson go undrafted. He was a tackle machine once he became the starter for his team, as he was one of the best tacklers in the entire nation two years in a row. Richardson finished his collegiate career with 315 total tackles, 32 for a loss, 10 sacks, and two forced fumbles.
He has his work cut out for him to make the final roster though, as there are a plethora of linebackers trying to make the team. The Raiders defense was less than spectacular in 2020, so they could use all the help they could get. Richardson is an experienced linebacker, playing five years at the college level. So even though he's a rookie, Richardson has plenty of knowledge of how to play the position. Look for Richardson to be an impact player on special teams, with the potential to become a vital starter one day in Las Vegas, giving this team the extra measure of production it needs in the AFC West.