Oakland Raiders Week 8 Stock Report
Oakland's defense seemed complacent for the final quarter, which falls on defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. Nonetheless, his stock remains even due to his stellar game plan to keep the Chargers out of the end zone for three quarters.
Two reserves made key contributions on offense, and two defensive players helped set the tone for a physical and disruptive play style against the Chargers' passing attack.
One particular player who’s criticized for every miscue finally shows up on the positive side of this report. Another player continues to struggle, creating a small void within the Raiders' developing offense.
Whose performance caused a significant rise in stock? Who’s the non-factor within the offense?
D.J. Hayden: Stock Up
Save your negative criticism of D.J. Hayden for another week. Against the Chargers, the third-year cornerback recorded his first interception since Week 10 of the 2014 season.
Hayden’s performance doesn’t indicate whether he’s finally turning the corner or not. However, it’s encouraging to know he’s not a punching bag for every quarterback to target.
The oft-injured cornerback continues to play without major injury concerns. His availability has aided his incremental improvement on the field.
The unflattering perception of Hayden could shift with a potential full season of football ahead of him. He may not live up to his high draft status (12th overall in 2013), but his slow improvement forces naysayers to reconsider his tag as a draft bust.
Malcolm Smith: Stock Up
Linebacker Malcolm Smith intercepted Rivers on the first drive of the game, which sparked the defense. Smith continues to blossom into a leader on the field in his first year as a starter.
Many expected Aldon Smith to tag team with Khalil Mack off the edge as sack leaders. Surprisingly, Smith at linebacker shares a team high in sacks with Mack, totaling three apiece.
In the past two games, Smith has shown a considerable improvement in his coverage skills. He's recorded an interception, two passes defensed and zero touchdowns allowed, per Pro Football Focus.
Norton’s former pupil in Seattle continues to show why he deserves the starting spot in Oakland. Smith isn’t as loud and boisterous as former Raiders linebacker Sio Moore, but he leads by example on the field.
Seth Roberts: Stock Down
The Raiders felt wide receiver Seth Roberts, an unproven talent, earned his position in the slot. The undrafted wideout from West Alabama became an offensive spark in the preseason, which propelled him onto the active roster.
Roberts scored in two of his first three games as a pro, but he’s fizzled out since finding the end zone. He’s recorded more penalties (two) than receptions (one) in the last three outings.
The first-year wide receiver showed poor awareness and communication with quarterback Derek Carr in Week 5, leading to a game-defining pick-six.
Carr’s confidence in Roberts may have wavered. The young wideout saw 12 targets in the first three games and just five targets in the next three contests. This usually happens when the receiver fails to gain separation in routes or the quarterback lacks trust in the receiver.
While Roberts struggles, Rod Streater’s name gains popularity every week. Nonetheless, the Raiders have kept a tight lid on why he remains inactive.
Clive Walford: Stock Up
The rookie tight end didn’t play a huge role in Sunday’s win, but it’s good to finally see him active within the offense.
Without a consistent presence in the slot, Carr found the dynamic tight end downfield on deep throws. Walford caught two passes for 42 yards and a touchdown, showing his ability to stretch the field against average safeties.
Oakland’s next opponents, the New York Jets, have experienced their share of difficulties covering tight ends in the past. That particular issue hasn’t crippled the team under new head coach Todd Bowles, but the Raiders should consider targeting Walford frequently to avoid a stingy pair of cornerbacks.
Taiwan Jones: Stock Up
Most people wouldn’t consider backup running back Taiwan Jones a major asset to the Raiders offense. However, his presence fills in the gaps for the ground attack.
Starting running back Latavius Murray carries the ball effectively, averaging approximately 16 carries per game. When active, Jones has registered two or three carries per game. Despite the low volume, he provides a second gear as a lateral ball-carrier with good vision to find holes on the edges.
The dual-quality, quick-twitch running back takes carries and catches out the backfield. In space, he becomes a dangerous weapon due to his unmatched agility.
In Week 7, Jones recorded 52 yards from scrimmage after returning from injury. Expect his role to expand to preserve Murray as the season progresses.
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