Raiders depth chart: Oakland may have found the key to its defense for 2019 season
Arden Key doesn't look like bust any more
Jon Gruden's offense didn't do much in Oakland's first preseason game. Facing the defending NFC champion Rams, the Raiders' offense was able to score just 14 points despite rolling up 407 total yards and having twice as many first downs as Los Angeles. Two turnovers and 11 penalties were the two main reasons why Oakland wasn't able to generate more points.
Gruden's defense, however, didn't do anything to hurt their cause while holding the Rams to just three points, 10 first downs and 190 total yards. Oakland also held Los Angeles to just 3-of-14 third down efficiency while getting some promising performances from several young defenders.
With their first preseason game in the books, the Raiders are now gearing up for Thursday night's exhibition matchup against the Arizona Cardinals. Before Oakland's second preseason game gets underway, we broke down the team's most recent depth chart while providing our predictions for the Raiders' biggest position battles.
We'll also let you in on the "key" that Oakland may have found in its defense for 2019.
|TE||Darren Waller||Foster Moreau||Derek Carrier||Luke Willson||Paul Butler|
Antonio Brown, despite his frostbitten feet, is still atop top of Oakland's depth chart. While he is still at the top of Oakland's depth chart rookie wideout Hunter Renfrow, a former Clemson Tiger who left school with two national championship rings, didn't help his cause after not catching a single pass during his NFL preseason debut.
J.J. Nelson, who has enjoyed a strong camp after coming over from Arizona, made an impressive 38-yard grab during his first preseason game as a Raider. Oakland fans (and fantasy football owners) should expect a very productive season out of Nelson in 2019.
Rookie running back Josh Jacobs (who was held out of Oakland's first preseason game) remains ahead of veteran Doug Martin on the depth chart. With Jacobs out, quarterback Nathan Peterman led Oakland with 56 yards on three carries. The rest of the Raiders' runners didn't fare nearly as well, however, combining to average just 3.32 yards on carry on 28 attempts.
Round 1 of the QB 2 battle between Peterson and Mike Glennon was unanimously won by Peterson, who completed 75 percent of his passes last week while taking care of the football. His three-yard touchdown pass to Keelan Doss put the game on ice.
As it currently stands: Jacobs will be Oakland's Week 1 starter at running back. And while I was sitting comfortably on Renfrow's bandwagon last week, I believe that he needs to have a strong performance Thursday if he's going to remain atop the Raiders' depth chart.
I still think that Darren Waller, a reserve tight end during his first three NFL seasons, will keep his current spot at Oakland's starting tight end. Waller has been one of the Raiders' best and most consistent players during the first two weeks of camp.
Peterson, unless Glennon (17-of-25 for 200 yards with two picks last week) really ups his game Thursday night, is going to be Oakland's No. 2 quarterback when the regular season begins.
Clelin Ferrell, the fourth overall pick in this year's draft, is still at the top of the depth chart. Ferrell may not be there for long, however, as backup RDE Arden Key had a stellar performance against the Rams. Key, a third round pick in last year's draft who recorded just one sack in 10 starts, recorded three solo tackles (that included a tackle for loss) and a sack last week against the Rams.
Chatting up veteran players for advice has helped Key as he looks to rebound from his disappointing rookie season. Last week, during joint practices with the Rams, Key was consistently seen talking to veteran Los Angeles offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth.
"We talked the two days we were playing up in Napa and practicing with them," Key said, per NBC Sports.com. "They were telling me something about my rush moves, about how I'm giving it up early. Run at him, and then last second, just do your move."
Key also spent significant time in the weight room this offseason in order to properly prepare himself for the upcoming season.
"I got a little stronger, which helps with the bull rush, and now that's my [baseline] move," he said. "So much of the credit goes to 'Buck.' I'm really starting to use my hands now. Last year, I didn't use hands at all. I was using my shoulder and a lot of forearm. If I can use my hands to keep guys off me, I can make moves and use my bend and length and things of that sort."
As it currently stands: Key will carry his momentum into Thursday's game, further putting the pressure on Ferrell. Jonathan Abram, the 27th overall pick in the draft, is technically behind Lamarcus Joyner on the depth chart. Don't read too much into that; Abram will be Oakland's starting FS sooner rather than later.
A.J. Cole III
Cole, who averaged 43.5 yards per punt last week, has been promoted to starter after out-kicking Johnny Townsend, who averaged 42.3 yards per punt against the Rams. Sieg, despite being ranked behind Depaola, is still in a dead heat with regard to that position battle entering Oakland's second preseason game.
As it currently stands: I'm calling it an even race between DePaola and Seig, who between them have one NFL regular-season game experience under their belts. This makes Oakland's preseason long snaps something to keep an eye on; which is exactly what the preseason is all about: the little things that, when you add them up, can make all the difference when the games count in September.
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