It is the week of the combine. By this point, every team knows what they are looking for. Conversely, what they do not want also becomes evident. For the Raiders, this is new territory. Head Coach Jon Gruden makes the tough decisions regarding who stays and who goes.
The hardest part alluded to by Gruden last week in terms of having to make decisions on players that he has maybe never met. Those players of questionable character, with injury recoveries, and improperly used players are likely mostly safe. However, those ineffective, overpaid, or underperforming draft picks are all likely to go. The Raiders look to reshape their team in their new coach’s image.
Sean Smith endured probably the worst two-season stretch of his career and he is not getting any younger. As time passes, Smith lost some of his fast twitch skills. As a result, he relies on his 6’3” 220-pound frame to maul receivers. When his mark shakes the jam, or if his match up is just too quick for him, Smith has almost no makeup speed to help him recover.
The Raiders previous coaching staff attempted to turn Smith into a kind of nickel corner/linebacker hybrid with disastrous results. Sean Smith is a luxury the Raiders cannot afford. With an 8.5 million dollar salary that can vanish without a cap hit. Instead, look for the Raiders to pursue top of the market players such as Trumaine Johnson or younger player. Either way, Sean Smith likely played his way off the team.
Entering last season the Raiders felt as if their backfield was among more versatile groups in the league. Over the course of 2017, they were proven wrong with no game highlighting the glaring holes more than Marshawn Lynch’s lone DNP against the Buffalo. In that game, both of the team’s smaller backs failed to hold on to the football in the open field.
While both Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington could occupy this spot, it is likely they will fight for one roster spot. Richard seems to enjoy the inside track, as he offers more on special teams. On the other hand, Washington would likely be able to carve out a similar role on another team. However if the Raiders draft a highly touted prospect like Saquon Barkley, then neither player is safe.
Seth Roberts enjoyed as good a run as any undrafted free agent receiver. However, last season exposed Roberts’ flaws. He struggled to catch the ball this season, fumbled, suffered penalties, to Derek Carr’s chagrin.
On balance, 2017 mirrored the previous year. The lone exception was the lack of splash plays. More often than not, he was a liability who snatched valuable snaps away from Cordarrelle Patterson. While cutting Roberts inflicts with a two-million-dollar dead cap hit, his roster spot could go to another wideout.