Report Card Grades for Raiders' Undrafted Free-Agent Signings
The Oakland Raiders signed a flurry of free agents after the draft. They were patient during the draft and took the best players available, but they also missed out on some areas of need. Wide receiver and tight end were two positions that could use more depth on the roster, and they were addressed by the team's signings after the draft.
The Raiders have made a couple of impact signings over the last two seasons. In 2012, Oakland signed undrafted free-agent wide receiver Rod Streater. He led the team in receptions and yardage in 2013 and looks to be the No. 1 receiver in 2014. He is one of the up-and-coming stars in the NFL.
Oakland also signed Matt McGloin after the draft in 2013. He started six games for the Raiders and was their most efficient starter on the roster. He is the only quarterback from the 2013 roster to be on the 2014 roster.
This year's class will have an uphill battle at make the cut. Oakland's roster is much better than it was in 2012 or 2013. The Raiders came into the offseason with more than $60 million in cap space and added several players at multiple positions to improve their overall depth and talent. Their 2014 draft class will also contribute to the team.
Let's take a look at each player signed by the Raiders.
RB/KR George Atkinson III, Notre Dame
The Oakland Raiders signed the son of legendary Raiders safety George Atkinson. George Atkinson III will have an opportunity to make the team as a kick returner. The backfield is currently crowded, so it could take an injury for Atkinson to make the team.
The junior came out of Notre Dame and is used to playing against high-level competition. He averaged six yards per carry in 2013 with the Fighting Irish, but he only carried the ball 93 times. In fact, he only carried the ball 153 times for 943 yards and 10 touchdowns during his time at Notre Dame.
He is a young player with low mileage. It will be interesting to see if he can make the team as a kick returner. Perhaps a change of position would be good for Atkinson. I wonder if he's ever played safety?
WR D.J. Coles, Virginia Tech
D.J. Coles is a big receiver at 6'4", 234 pounds, and the Raiders love big receivers. He will have an opportunity to make the team in 2014 because the team is not very deep at receiver. Oakland's top four receivers are a lock, but anything beyond that is a mystery.
He is one of three receivers that the Raiders added after the draft. No receivers were taken during the draft, so those who went undrafted have an opportunity in Oakland. Coles had 25 receptions for 387 yards and six touchdowns in his senior year.
This is a position of need for the Raiders, so I like the signing. I'm unsure if he will make the roster, but he has the size that Oakland likes.
OLB Carlos Fields Jr., Winston-Salem
Carlos Fields Jr. was a small-school standout and a two-time CIAA co-defensive player of the year. He dominated playing against lower levels of competition, and he'll try to carry that dominance into the NFL.
The Raiders starters are set at linebacker, but the depth behind them has a lot of questions. As a result, Fields Jr. will have a better opportunity to make the team compared to the running backs and offensive linemen. The Raiders want competition and to keep the best players.
If he can impress this summer, he should be on the 53-man roster.
WR Noel Grigsby, San Jose State
Noel Grigsby is my underdog to make the roster in 2014. He is a smaller wide receiver who comes in at 5'10" and 175 pounds. He missed the majority of the 2013 season as he only played two games, but he still left as San Jose State's all-time leading receiver in receiving yards and was second in total catches.
Raiders quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo coached Grigsby for two years in college. His strengths aren't his size and speed but rather his reliability and ability to get open. He is a polished route-runner with great hands. If he's healthy, I expect him to be one of the favorites to make the team or at least the practice squad.
This is a good signing by the Raiders as it fills a need. They might have found a gem in Grigsby.
WR Mike Davis, Texas
Another receiver with a good chance to make the team is former Longhorn Mike Davis. He had 51 receptions for 727 yards and eight touchdowns. He was pretty consistent throughout his career at Texas. He recorded 200 total receptions in his career and never had a season where he caught less than 40 passes.
Davis is 6'0" and weighs 197 pounds. He has long arms and big hands, which can help him in the NFL. The Raiders need to identify their No. 5 and No. 6 receivers in 2014. They have three receivers from last year's roster who will be competing for the final two spots in 2014. All three of them are 24 years old and still developing, so these undrafted free agents have a chance.
TE Jake Murphy, Utah
The Raiders may have a spot for Jake Murphy on their roster. Oakland drafted two tight ends in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL draft. The team also has David Ausberry, who missed all of last season with an injury. The Raiders' tight end position has promise, but no one is a sure thing.
Oakland also needs to find more depth and better blocking at the position. This could open up a spot for Murphy on the active roster. I see it as a position of need for the Raiders and one that could be an injury away from being a disaster.
Murphy would play a similar role to Mychal Rivera if he made the team. He could be a practice squad candidate that the Raiders keep just in case they need to activate another tight end.
TE Scott Simonson, Assumption College
The Raiders may be trying to look for a bigger tight end. Scott Simonson out of Assumption College could be a candidate. The 6'5", 250-pounder could add a little bit more bulk for the Raiders and be an ideal blocking tight end.
The Raiders don't have a tight end who does it all, so they may use different tight ends depending on the situation. Eventually, Oakland will have to find a guy who can do it all. Until then, it will use at least two tight ends.
Ausberry and Nick Kasa are the favorites to make the roster after Rivera, but pay close attention to the undrafted tight ends by the Raiders. Murphy or Simonson may make the 53-man roster, or both may end up on the practice squad.
FB Karl Williams, Utah
Karl Williams was added to the roster after the draft as well. The Raiders currently have a Pro Bowl fullback on the roster. They also have a young fullback in Jamize Olawale whom Reggie McKenzie likes a lot. This signing is an interesting one.
Williams is from the University of Utah, the same place as Keith McGill and Jake Murphy. I see Williams as a practice squad candidate. Oakland's backfield is crowded, and I don't know that it will have room for another fullback.
Wide Receiver Seth Roberts West Alabama
The Raiders signed wide receiver Seth Roberts from the University of West Alabama. In 2013 Roberts caught 40 passes for 857 yards and 12 touchdowns. He is 6'2 and weight 190 pounds. The Raiders are trying to find good depth at the wide receiver position, so Roberts has a chance to compete. He is one of four undrafted wide receivers that will be joining the Raiders.
Roberts could be a candidate for the practice squad if he is not able to make the roster. Brice Butler and Greg Jenkins currently hold the last two wide receiver spots on the Raiders roster.