The Las Vegas Raiders have been busy this offseason as they hope to compete in a tough AFC West. The front office created multiple changes to the offensive line, brought in Kenyan Drake to help Josh Jacobs, and brought in some new faces on the defensive side of the ball. Although they’ve made some questionable decisions, the Raiders should still be competitive in 2021.
The offense will be carrying this team throughout the season. Darren Waller could be the best tight end in the league this year, while the coaching staff is hopeful that Henry Ruggs develops into a more consistent player to help out Derek Carr. Jon Gruden has a history of getting the best out of his players, so Las Vegas is hoping to see that.
The defense might struggle, but they should be better than last year. It’ll be tough for them to win the division, especially with the Kansas City Chiefs still in their prime. However, the Raiders could cause a stir in the playoff race late in the season. For that to happen, the entire team will need to step up.
Luckily, Las Vegas has a couple of guys on the roster who could make a big impact for them in 2021. The receiving corps needs some help, but a wily veteran is on the team who could take over. Additionally, a struggling young defensive player was brought in this offseason. A new situation might just be the trick to unlock his potential.
Here are two sleepers on the Raiders roster for the 2021 NFL season.
We watched John Brown have the best year of his career in 2019, but then he fell off the map due to injuries last year. He joins a young receiving corps in Las Vegas and has the chance to be the veteran leader. A year ago, Nelson Agholor played as the top receiving option outside of Darren Waller, and Brown has a chance to take over that role.
Last year, Agholor finished with 48 receptions, 896 yards, and eight touchdowns. That’s a stat line Brown could finish with, or perhaps surpass. Brown is a speedster who could become one of Carr’s preferred targets this season. With opposing defenses focusing on Waller, Brown might emerge as the top wideout in Las Vegas.
After falling to injury, the San Fransisco 49ers opted to not bring Solomon Thomas back. He hasn’t quite lived up to expectations since entering the league in 2017. He did have a solid rookie campaign, but his numbers have dropped every year since then. A new start is what Thomas needs, and the Raiders could be the main beneficiary.
With guys like Yannick Ngakoue and Maxx Crosby on the defensive line, Thomas should be able to ease into the interior as a run-stopping expert. He can bounce back and forth between defensive end and defensive tackle, making him a versatile tool for the Raiders to use. Look for Thomas to have a bounce-back year, as 2021 could reset his career entirely.