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Raiders Mailbag: Position questions, offseason standouts and more

Kimo Gomez from California asks:

"Who's winning the battle of first string CBs?"

We still have to see how Training Camp goes for the Raiders secondary, but two cornerbacks that have impressed me early this offseason are Duke Shelley and Jakorian Bennett.

Shelley signed with the Raiders after spending his first four seasons with the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings. He's coming off a career season with the Vikings, recording eight pass deflections, an interception and earning a 86.4 PFF coverage grade – the third highest of all cornerbacks in 2022. At 5-foot-9, he seems to play with intensity bigger than his size, and it's shown in offseason practices when covering Pro Bowlers Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow.

Bennett has also brought a lot of intensity with him early on and could prove himself to be a commodity at nickel cornerback once Training Camp begins. The 2023 fourth-round pick out of Maryland didn't allow a single touchdown his senior year, with two interceptions and seven pass deflections. His 4.30 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine is icing on the cake as well for a Raiders secondary that could use added speed.

Randy Pittman from Missouri asks:

"Do you think Sincere McCormick will get a fair chance to make the team? His highlight reel looks great."

Sincere McCormick is an intriguing prospect. Before tearing his ACL last offseason, the Raiders were optimistic about the undrafted running back from UTSA. In 2021, he lead the Roadrunners to a 12–1 record and was named the Most Valuable Player of the Conference USA Championship Game after rushing for 204 yards and three touchdowns on 36 carries. He was also a two-time Offensive Player of the Year for the conference.

So far things have been looking good for McCormick in OTAs. While the running back room is loaded with Josh Jacobs, Zamir White, Brandon Bolden, Ameer Abdullah, Brittain Brown and Austin Walter – I would say he has as good of a shot as any of them in Training Camp and the preseason.

"Any time a player obviously gets an injury like that where they're out a long time, you hope they come back and hope they can perform the way they want to perform. And I think Sincere has not only done that, but he's done a great job of just learning the playbook and coming out there," offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi said during mandatory minicamp. "He's gotten some reps too, probably reps he wouldn't have gotten as a rookie before."

Amin Arikat from California asks:

"Based on the practices so far, who can be penciled in at this point to be the starting linebackers?"

The competition in the linebacking corps is wide open.

Two players that impressed the coaching staff in OTAs and minicamp were Divine Deablo and free agent signing Robert Spillane.

Deablo earned himself a starting role at outside linebacker in the later half of his rookie season, which carried into 2022. He was the team's leading tackler before he was injured Week 9 against the Jacksonville Jaguars and missed the remainder of the season. Upon returning to the field this offseason, he's noticeable put on some muscle mass and was given the green dot in practice – which is a good sign for how things are going for him.

As for Spillane, his leadership has been on full display since arriving to Las Vegas. He comes from a rich tradition of tough Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers, and brings his lunchpail mentality to the Silver and Black. Last season, he recorded a career-high 52 tackles and four pass deflections with an admirable 77.3 PFF run defense grade.

The Raiders hosted an Advocacy & Allyship Pride Panel at Raiders Headquarters where presentations and conversations guided individuals in creating an inclusive culture.

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