Ranking the Raiders’ undrafted rookies, led by a British tackle and an expensive DE
When the draft ended Saturday afternoon, agents for smaller school players or developmental players from bigger schools become very popular. There are verbal agreements, and sometimes before deals get signed, there are better verbal agreements. The smoke cleared and the Raiders plan to sign at least 14 undrafted free agents to their roster. The team hasn’t announced the players yet, but we got the 14 verified.
The Raiders hit the offensive line again and also added four defensive backs and an interesting receiver, pass rusher and quarterback. We made some calls and ranked the 14 players by chance of making the season-opening roster or the practice squad (underline those last two words). We factored in their draft grade before last weekend and their upside, along with the Raiders’ depth at that position.
You never really now how a new regime feels about a team’s returning players until training camp, so some of these guys have a better chance than you or I think:
Bam Olaseni, T, Utah (6-foot-7, 339 pounds)
He is raw and needs work on his range and leverage, but has great length. And, of course, the Raiders right now just have a bunch of undistinguished bodies on the offensive line, with the only definite starter left tackle Kolton Miller.
The London native played for the Under-19 London Blitz in the British American Football Association before moving to Kansas, where he was a junior college All-American at Garden City Community College. He transferred to Utah and was a second-team All-Pac-12 Conference selection last season, starting 11 of 14 appearances at left tackle.
Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, DE, Notre Dame (6-2, 270)
The cousin of Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, Tagovailoa-Amosa had 25 tackles, six for a loss, with two sacks in 12 starts last season. He lost 15 pounds to move from tackle to end last season, and then ran the 40-yard dash in 4.81 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine, as well as clearing a vertical leap of 29 inches. Not big enough to play inside, his high motor and quick feet from him will create opportunities in some packages.
The Raiders signed or drafted 86 defensive linemen this offseason, so his goal is to make the practice squad and get a little bigger and stronger. At least that is what I thought until I heard that the Raiders gave him a guaranteed $207,000. interesting…
Tagovailoa-Amosa was named a team captain last August after he had returned to Ewa Beach, Hawaii, to mourn his father’s death. He later had a game-clinching sack against Toledo on the same day he and his family had a FaceTime memorial service.
Tre Turner, WR, Virginia Tech (6-1, 184)
You can always tell a team’s interest when they reach back in their pockets. Turner, according to league sources, was ready to sign with the Vikings for a $2,500 signing bonus when the Raiders offered him $40,000. His supporters of him say that he was plagued by some really bad offensive coaching at Virginia Tech, and point to his 675 yards (16.9 per catch) and three touchdowns despite that. Turner also finished his career with 456 yards rushing and four touchdowns.
The former high school basketball star makes up for average speed with his ability to go up and get the ball. Turner has a nice route tree but didn’t fare well with the tests at the combine. There’s also a checked injury past, including the fact that Virginia Tech coaches had to drive him to the Miami game when his pneumomediastinum acted up, and the air stuck in his chest between his lungs prohibited him from flying.
Sam Webb, BC, Missouri Western State (6-1, 202)
Webb has all the traits you want in terms of height, weight, length and above-average speed. The question is can he make the leap from Division II to the NFL, when his footwork, penalty-avoidance and run support need a lot of work. Missouri Western State only played two games in 2020 due to COVID-19 but Webb did have a 90-yard kickoff return for a TD in one of them. He also blocked two kicks last season, so special teams may be what punches his ticket from him.
Darien Butler, LB, Arizona State (5-10, 221)
Another undersized prospect with a lot of heart, Butler had 68 tackles, 8 1/2 for a loss, with two sacks, three interceptions and three pass breakups for the Sun Devils. Butler is a three-time team captain whose cover skills and special teams potential give him a shot on a Raiders roster short on linebacker depth.
Zach VanValkenburg, edge, Iowa (6-5, 263)
The lack of twitch left him undrafted, but his smarts and recognition of plays plus his body of work (15 tackles for loss last season with 5 1/2 sacks) give him a shot at making the practice squad.
Chase Garbers, QB, Cal (6-2, 215)
Garbers was a four-year starter at Cal who surrounded a wave of ups and downs. He does not have the biggest arm, but he was able to make plays with his feet from him and finished as the school-record holder for career rushing yards (1,174) and rushing touchdowns (11) as a QB. He threw for 2,531 yards last season (64 percent), 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions, and then worked with QB guru Jordan Palmer on not staring down targets.
McDaniels said he wants to develop a long-term (cheap) backup quarterback, and Garbers has a small window at that opportunity. Or else he is just a training camp arm, behind Derek Carr, Nick Mullens and Garrett Gilbert.
Qwynnterrio Cole, S, Louisville (6-0, 206 pounds)
Cole led Alcorn State to a couple of bowl games and was an HBCU All-American before COVID-19 wiped out their 2020 season and he transferred to Louisville. He is an enforcer type who needs to work on his deep-end coverage, but he does have good ball skills. Cole had five tackles for a loss, an interception and six pass breakups for the
Justin Hall, WR, Ball State (5-9, 186)
Hall doesn’t have great speed (4.53) or great hands, but he just makes plays. His 318 receptions at Ball State rank ninth in the FBS since 1956, and he has gained 3,385 yards with those. He also ran for 865 yards and 10 touchdowns and returned kicks and punts for another 1,109 yards and a touchdown.
Isaiah Pola-Mao, S, USC (6-4, 205)
Pola-Mao is the nephew of the Steelers Hall of Fame safety Troy Polamalu and Raiders running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu. He needs to fill out a little more, but he covered tight ends at USC and was a team captain.
Sincere McCormick, RB, UTSA (5-8, 205)
The three-year starter probably wishes he had entered the transfer portal — he would have made more money through NIL opportunities than he likely will now — instead of the NFL Draft. McCormick is a very good lateral runner with a nice jump-cut who lacks home-run speed. He got better every year and set UTSA records last season with 1,479 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on 298 carries. He also had 22 receptions for 184 yards.
The Raiders are so deep at running back now that veteran ameer abdullah is a long shot to make the roster, so McCormick’s best hope is to get some preseason carries and make somebody take notice.
Bryce Cosby, S, Ball State (5-10, 181)
Maybe the Raiders were scouting Hall and fell in like with Cosby as well. The undersized Cosby was one of only six defensive backs in the country to amass 100 tackles during the regular season. He also had five interceptions.
Lukas Masterson, LB, Wake Forest (6-2, 234)
Masterson was a strong downhill tackler who needs to get stronger and also struggled at times when going backward. Masterson had moved from safety to linebacker and had 13 tackles for loss and 2 1/2 sacks and was then named the Defensive MVP of the Hula Bowl.
Cole Fotheringham, TE, Utah (6-4, 243)
His 15 receptions for 128 yards ranked third among Utah tight ends last season, but Fotheringham earned his snaps by being a blocker.
(Top photo of Bam Olaseni: Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)