You’re going to be seeing a lot of the Silver and Black this summer as the Oakland Raiders are going to be featured on the 2019 version of “Hard Knocks.”
The critically acclaimed HBO show will essentially follow the team throughout the entirety of training camp and the preseason, giving viewers a unique perspective of the inner workings of an NFL team.
Each season of Hard Knocks seems to feature a handful of characters that the camera just seems to gravitate towards naturally, so in that spirit, here are my five players – and coaches – that I think will be Hard Knock stars this summer.
1. Head Coach Jon Gruden
Come on, was there any debate that Coach Gruden would own the No. 1 spot in this countdown?
The Silver and Black’s head coach owns arguably one of the best television careers in sports entertainment history, one that resulted in the creation of homage twitter accounts, countless “Grudenisims” and a whole generation of football fans who think of him fondly as the voice of “Monday Night Football.”
Gruden is very at ease in front of the camera, and having him mic’d up, with every aspect of his day recorded will be quite the gift for the viewer at home.
I predict that Coach Gruden will provide at least one moment per episode that makes you laugh out loud, but by the end of the 60 minutes, you’ll be ready to strap on the pads and play four quarters for him.
2. Antonio Brown
Mr. Big Chest seems like he was born for “Hard Knocks,” no?
This is a man who not only rocked a golden mustache, hangs out with A-list celebrities seemingly all the time, has been on “Dancing With The Stars,” oh, and is the best wide receiver in football.
Let’s not forget that AB has turned his arrival to training camp each year into a bit of a, shall we say, spectacle.
He’s arrived in a plethora of Rolls Royces, and also thrown a helicopter in the mix just to spice things up too. I’m going to just posit a guess and predict that Brown descends into the team’s Napa Valley Training Complex in a hot air balloon.
You heard it here first.
3. Johnathan Abram
I told you guys after the first time I spoke to the hard-hitting safety that you guys were really going to like him, and now young Mr. Abram is going to show off his personality to a national audience.
Not only is he one of the Raiders trio of first-round picks – a storyline I can almost guarantee that “Hard Knocks” will cover ad nauseam – but he’s a dude who likes to talk trash, and guys like that make entertaining TV.
If the Silver and Black do have some joint practices with the Los Angeles Rams or whoever it ends up being, I have this vision in my head of Abram jawing with some poor receiver about coming across the middle in his house.
Now that is the #content I’m here for.
4. Trent Brown
The Silver and Black retooled much of their offensive line this offseason, and the addition of the daunting Super Bowl Champ is a big part of that new and improved unit.
Not only is Brown a massive human being – he’s every bit of the 6’8” and 380 pounds that he’s listed at – but all eyes will be on him as he transitions back to right tackle.
Like everyone else on this list, big No. 77 is natural in front of the camera, and seeing him gel with his new teammates will be a fun storyline to watch unfold.
Also, let’s not forget that some of the best footage throughout the show comes from the one-on-one drills between the offensive and defensive line.
Brown squaring off against Clelin Ferrell, Mo Hurst and the boys? Sign me up for five episodes of that.
5. Keelan Doss
Year after year, HBO goes back to the “talented young guy on the bubble to make the roster” well, and luckily for them the Raiders have a plethora of those characters, but none might have a better story than Keelan Doss.
Not only does Doss come to the NFL via UC Davis –a feat in and of itself – the Alameda, Calif., native grew up not even 10 minutes from the Silver and Black’s practice facility.
A local kid playing for his hometown team, trying to make the roster as an undrafted free agent? Sign me up for that Hollywood movie – or 60-minute episode in this case.
Don’t sleep on these guys either…
Derek Carr – QB1. Need I say anything else?
James Cowser – Cowser is fluent in Mandarin and with hair like Thor to boot, the man is made for television.
Chris Warren III – After an absolutely stellar rookie preseason last year, CWIII lost his entire 2018 campaign to injury. He’s built more like a middle linebacker than a running back, and has quickly become a fan favorite even though he hasn’t seen too much game action.
Dwayne “Gucci” Harris – Tune in each week just to see what Gucci is wearing – SPOILER ALERT: It’s probably Gucci.