Stock Up, Stock Down for Oakland Raiders Training Camp
With the Oakland Raiders’ 2013 training camp now well under way, coaches, front office personnel, media and fans alike have had a good look at how the team is shaping up heading into the season.
Although camp has only been in session for a week, the Raiders already have several players of note seizing the opportunity before them and seen their stock on the rise.
Meanwhile, other Raiders are seeing their stock dwindle, the majority of which have unfortunately come as a result of injuries keeping those players off the field.
Here is a look at the rising and falling stocks of some players at Oakland Raiders training camp.
Stock Up: QB Matt Flynn
Although the Raiders headed into camp with a quarterback competition as one of their most notable position battles, Matt Flynn may already be separating himself from Terrelle Pryor and Tyler Wilson, already.
According to Josh Dubow of the Associate Press, “Matt Flynn is solidifying his role as starting quarterback for the Raiders”, and “has been the most impressive of the three quarterbacks so far in training camp with the most accurate arm, a good grasp of the offense and strong leadership on the field.”
This is the best-case scenario for the Raiders. Although Flynn does not have much game experience at the NFL level, he is by far the most seasoned of the Raiders’ three quarterbacks and will be the most reliable passer this season.
With Flynn finally getting his well-deserved opportunity to lead a team, the starting quarterback position should be his to lose from here on out.
Stock Down: OT Menelik Watson
With his elite athletic ability, second-round draft pick Menelik Watson has a potentially very bright future as the Raiders' right offensive tackle.
The early hope would have been that Watson could grab hold of the starting job heading into the regular season, allowing the Raiders to shift around some other potential starters up front.
However, given that he currently resides on the non-football injury list and has yet to participate in a training camp practice, that scenario continues to become less likely.
As a rookie already considered to be relatively raw in his development, missing this much practice time will do Watson no favors in his preseason battle for the starting job. The sooner he can get on the field, the better.
Stock Up: WR Rod Streater
With one of the youngest and most inexperienced wide receiver groups in the NFL, the Raiders are desperate for someone to step up and become a reliable No. 1 target.
Early indications are that Rod Streater, the second-year player out of Temple, may end up being the one.
According to Jerry McDonald of The Oakland Tribune, Streater has been the most consistent wide receiver throughout the first few days of camp and could emerge as the go-to guy in the passing game for quarterback Matt Flynn.
Denarius Moore and the vertical receiving threat he presents will also be key for the Raiders' offense, but Streater’s ability to create separation and come down with the football on shorter routes may make him the primary target in this offense.
Bleacher Report's Christopher Hansen’s noted that Streater is emerging as the Raiders' top receiving option.
Stock Down: OG Mike Brisiel
With the change in blocking schemes earlier this offseason, the popular assumption was that Mike Brisiel, a zone-blocking specialist, would not be in the Raiders’ plans moving forward.
A restructuring of his contract ensured that Brisiel would indeed stick with the team, but the Raiders’ recent signing of veteran center/offensive guard Andre Gurode could mean that Brisiel will have even more competition for his starting position.
No, Gurode has not played since 2011, but at one time, he was one of the better interior linemen in the NFL.
Whether or not this signing was made solely for depth purposes remains unknown, but given that Gurode is a better fit for the man-, gap-blocking scheme and has already seen time at right guard in practice, we can assume he will compete with Brisiel throughout the preseason.
Stock Up: TE David Ausberry
Much like the wide receiver position, the Raiders need one of their several young talents at tight end to step up and take control of a starting job.
So far in camp, it looks as though David Ausberry will have every opportunity to win the competition and show that he can be the receiving threat the Raiders have long envisioned him of becoming.
Ausberry has both the size and speed to be a matchup nightmare in coverage, but just needs to show that he can be a willing and capable blocker as well.
Either way, reviews of his performance in camp thus far are quite positive, including that of Peter King in his MMQB report for Sports Illustrated, calling Ausberry the “most impressive unknown player I saw” in the first week of his NFL training camp tours.
Stock Down: DT Pat Sims
One of several free-agent signings at defensive tackle, Pat Sims was brought in to help the Raiders’ run defense, thus addressing one of the team’s most problematic areas in recent seasons.
Unfortunately, as is the case with several other Raiders on this list, he has yet to get on the practice field in training camp.
While the extent of his injury remain unknown, what’s certain is that Sims needs to get healthy as soon as possible.
The Raiders’ depth chart on the interior defensive line is thin enough and although Sims still projects as a starter at this point, that would become progressively less likely with the more time he is forced to miss.
Stock Up: DE David Bass
The biggest question facing the Raiders throughout this offseason has been whether or not they will be able to generate a pass rush on defense.
No, they did not add a big-name pass-rusher in free agency, nor did they choose to do so with their top selection in the draft like many thought they would.
However, the Raiders’ seventh-round selection was used on Missouri Western DE David Bass. While it is not every day that a seventh-round pick earns a prominent role on a team in his rookie season, the Raiders may have themselves a late-round steal here.
A dominant pass rusher throughout his college career, Bass has the speed and quickness off the edge that could translate to some immediate success at the NFL level.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Vic Tafur, flashes of that ability have already been evident on the practice field, and head coach Dennis Allen agrees.
Rookie DE David Bass has gotten to QB at times. Allen: "He's shown the ability to rush passer. That's something we're going to count on."— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) July 30, 2013
Stock Down: LB Miles Burris
Forced into starting duties and becoming a three-down linebacker soon after, Miles Burris did well to surpass expectations early in his rookie season.
Given the Raiders’ additions at linebacker through both free agency and the draft, Burris is now slated for more of a reserve and special teams role heading into his second season.
Burris’ offseason knee surgery and subsequent recovery, which has sidelined him for the entire offseason so far, certainly does not help matters, putting into question the role he will have when the season gets underway.
For the sake of Burris’ development as a young player and the newfound depth in the Raiders’ linebacker corps, Oakland hopes that he can return to the field soon.
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