When the Raiders signed James Cowser as an unrestricted free agent, they expected a different player. Cowser finished his career as the most statistically prolific pass rusher in FCS history. During his time in Oakland, Cowser’s game began to evolve. While pass rushing paved the way for Cowser to make the leap, he needed to add other skills to stick. Under a new coaching staff, Cowser will need to prove himself worthy of a roster spot.
In the NFL, unless a player is phenomenally gifted athletically, they will need to adapt to more than one task. With Cowser, the Raiders can use him in a myriad of ways. First, he could line up in subpackages as a rusher, if injury or ineffectiveness sidelines a starter. Cowser’s ability to get to the passer supersedes any combine limitations
In addition, Cowser can operate as a linebacker. While his drops into coverage are not always textbook, Cowser can patrol an area. Moreover, he sheds a block like an end. Cowser’s hands can knife through a block to make a play.
During the offseason, the Raiders signed Kyle Wilber, Emmanuel Lamur, drafted Azeem Victor. Not to mention, Nicholas Morrow and Marquel Lee and Shilique Calhoun occupy the crowded corps. If you look at this list, Cowser will a stiff climb. Lee and Victor are recent draft picks. In addition, Calhoun keeps his spot for whatever reason. Although Paul Guenther loved linebackers, they will need to trim the roster.
Cowser could snag a spot based on his excellent special teams work. Granted, special teams play does not carry the same glamour as defense, but Cowser will earn his money there first. When Jon Gruden brought on Rich Bisaccia, he stressed coverage and intelligence on specials. As a result, Cowser could slide into a roster spot.
While James Cowser does not incite the same passion of Khalil Mack or Bruce Irvin among the fanbase, he plays a vital role. The Raiders need quality depth and improved special teams. No one wants to hear about the depth chart. However, championship teams usually have talent to back up starters. In the case of James Cowser, the Raiders employ a player that fought to get there and with brawl to stay.