The Las Vegas Raiders are coming off of a 2019 campaign—which happened to be the franchise’s final season in Oakland—in which they won seven games and briefly contended for a playoff spot before the wheels came off.
While there isn’t much reason to believe the Raiders will be in the postseason in 2020, there is plenty of interesting talent on the club’s roster.
Here are three potential breakout players for Las Vegas going into next season.
3. Hunter Renfrow, Wide Receiver
Believe it or not, Hunter Renfrow was the Raiders’ No. 2 receiver in 2019, and at some points during Tyrell Williams’ absence, he was the No. 1 guy.
That’s more of a reflection of how poor Las Vegas’ offense was this past year rather than any endorsement for Renfrow’s talent, but there is no doubt that the kid has the ability to be a solid slot receiver in the NFL.
With tight end Darren Waller’s breakout campaign in 2019 coupled with the additions of fellow wide outs Henry Ruggs III and Nelson Agholor, Renfrow could see his opportunities open up in 2020.
This past year, Renfrow caught a respectable 49 passes for 605 yards and four touchdowns. Now, with Ruggs’ speed on the outside, he could find himself more open in the slot for short and intermediate routes.
Will he suddenly become a 1,000-yard guy? Probably not, but an increase in production wouldn’t be surprising.
2. Johnathan Abram, Safety
The Raiders took Jonathan Abram in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, but one game into his NFL career, Abram suffered a shoulder injury that ended his rookie campaign.
Abram was outstanding at Mississippi State, particularly in his senior season when he racked up 99 tackles, nine tackles for loss, three sacks, a couple of interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He was all over the field.
Obviously, there will be a bit of a learning curve for Abram going into Year 2, considering that he basically didn’t play during his debut season, but, at the very least, he has been around the team and the coaching staff and is surely aware of what his role will be in 2020.
If Las Vegas’ defense is going to show any improvement next season, you can bet that Abram will be a big part of it. Let’s just hope he stays healthy.
1. Clelin Ferrell, Defensive Lineman
Clelin Ferrell was the Raiders’ top pick in 2019, as the club took him with the fourth overall selection.
There were very high expectations for Ferrell coming in, but he was a bit of a disappointment in his rookie season, totaling 38 tackles, 4.5 sacks and a fumble recovery.
Those are still decent numbers for a first-year player, but many anticipated more from the Clemson product. Fortunately, Ferrell showed considerable progression as the season wore on, so there is reason for optimism heading into his sophomore campaign.
Will Ferrell (I just realized that it looks like we are literally talking about Will Ferrell) break out with a double-digit sack season? Maybe not, but this kid is absurdly talented and could develop into quite the force along the Raiders’ defensive front in 2020.
For reference, in his final season at Clemson, Ferrell registered 55 tackles, 20 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks. No, college numbers don’t always translate into the pros, but Ferrell’s track record lends credence to the notion that we need to give the 23-year-old more time.