The Oakland Raiders open up the preseason Saturday night against the Los Angeles Rams, which means it’s time for a training camp tradition like no other – the release of the team’s first unofficial depth chart.
Now, before we take our first look at how the 90-man roster is currently constructed, I feel obligated – once again – to remind you that this depth chart is unofficial, which means that is subject to change, and it’s almost certain to look different once Head Coach Jon Gruden’s team straps on the pads for real, for real, on September 9.
You can check out the full depth chart, here, and below are six observations to go along with it.
1. Structurally, the Raiders list three wide receivers
In years past, we’ve seen the Silver and Black list just two columns of wide receivers on their depth chart, but with their first iteration of 2019, the team is going with three pass catchers.
Unsurprisingly, Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams have two of those starting slots, but in a move that could come as a surprise to some, rookie wideout Hunter Renfrow has the third one.
Renfrow is listed as the first slot receiver on the depth chart, clocking in ahead of Ryan Grant and De’Mornay Pierson-El, and after a really nice start to training camp, it stands to reason that the former Clemson Tiger earned that title.
Now, will Renfrow have to take full advantage of the preseason to stay in that spot? He sure will, but props to the young fella for showing the coaching staff what he can bring to the offense.
2. The youth movement
Renfrow isn’t the only Raiders rookie to earn a starting spot on the team’s first unofficial depth chart, as all three of the Silver and Black’s first rounders from this year’s draft (Clelin Ferrell, Josh Jacobs and Jonathan Abram) sit at the top of their respective position groups.
Abram technically is listed on the same line as Lamarcus Joyner, but the fact remains, we’re going to see a lot of No. 24 in 2019.
After a disappointing season a year ago, Coach Gruden and General Manager Mike Mayock were open about the fact that they needed the players they selected in this year’s draft to come in and contribute right away, and all indications are those hopes are on track to come to fruition.
All good teams are built through the draft, and the if the Raiders get the type of production they think they’re going to get from their trio of first rounders, they’ll be in a pretty good position to do just that.
3. Josh Mauro gets the nod
With Clelin Ferrell manning one of the starting defensive end spots, veteran lineman Josh Mauro is currently listed as the other starting edge rusher.
Now in his fifth season, and with stops Arizona, Pittsburgh and the New York Giants under his belt, the 28 year old looks poised to be a major contributor for the Raiders in 2019.
Mauro has run primarily with the first team defensive line since the team arrived in Napa, so seeing his name listed as one of defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s 11 starters isn’t all that surprising, but nevertheless, he’s a guy I’m excited to watch during the preseason.
The former Stanford Cardinal has not yet enjoyed high sack numbers in his career, but I wonder if that might change with a little more consistent game action.
I guess we’ll find out.
4. Darren Waller stands on top… For now.
The athletic tight end has been one of the team’s most reliable playmakers since the Raiders touched down in Napa.
Whether it’s making himself available in the middle of the field for Derek Carr and the team’s quarterbacks, or making toe-tap catches on the sideline, No. 83 has been a stud through the first portion of camp.
The expectations for Waller are going to be heftier than they have been for him in years past, considering with Jared Cook no longer on the roster, the team needs some offensive production from the tight end spot, and the hope is that Waller can be that player for the Raiders.
Let's take a look at the current 90-man roster as players arrive in Napa for 2019 Training Camp.
5. Let’s talk about the quarterbacks
Make sure you’re seated before you read this one – Derek Carr is the Raiders starting quarterback on the first unofficial depth chart.
I know, pretty wild, right?
Carr aside though – sorry, DC, but I think we all have you locked in at QB1 for the foreseeable future – the backup is where the real intrigue in the position group lies.
With four preseason games still left on the docket to decide who actually earns the right to backup Carr, I remind you guys that depth chart is subject to change, but as of now, Mike Glennon is the man listed as QB2 with Nathan Peterman behind him.
For the backup quarterbacks in particular, the preseason games will really be where they’ll have a chance to distinguish themselves and show what they can do in Gruden’s offense.
Operating in practice is one thing, but a game is an entirely different beast; we’ll see what both guys have in the chamber starting Saturday night.
6. Shout-out to the specialists
Last, but certainly not least, let’s give a quick check in on the specialists.
With Daniel Carlson obviously handling the kicking duties, Johnny Townsend still has a hold on the starting punter job, and if the depth chart is to be believed, he’ll be getting snaps from veteran long snapper Andrew DePaola.
While A.J. Cole and Trent Sieg are technically listed on the second line, a memorable performance – one way or the other – has the ability to shift things around in a hurry.
Both the punter and long snapper battles are ones that I think go all the way until the end of the preseason.