Breakout Candidates: A Look At Three Good Ones For The Raiders In 2019

It’s only May, but it’s never too early to predict a few breakout candidates for the Raiders. With the injury to Isaiah Crowell, there’s no question Josh Jacobs is going to dominate Jon Gruden’s backfield – which may have even been true before the injury.

So without getting lazy and including the obvious (Jacobs should be drafted in the first round of your fantasy league) let’s look at three sleeper candidates to have a big year in 2019.

2019 is supposed to be the year of Kolton Miller, but don’t lose sight of the other tackle the Raiders drafted last year. There are several paths to playing time for Brandon Parker – not the least of which might be flat-out earning the right tackle job. Parker is listed as the same size and weight as Miller and if Trent Brown wins the left tackle job, Miller might not have the inside track to start on the right size.

Call it a gut feeling, but one way or another, Parker is going to find his way into the starting lineup this year.

In a few short months, all eyes will be on 26 year-old tight end Darren Waller to see if he’s ready to have the breakout season the Raiders think he can. The Raiders reportedly didn’t even make an offer to Jared Cook and Waller was part of the reason why. Gruden loves him. At 6’6, 255 pounds, Waller ran a 4.46 forty-yard dash as a rookie and entered the NFL with a scouting report that could translate to being a solid tight end in the league.

His scouting profile in 2015:

“Yet another Georgia Tech receiver with great length. Plays to his height. Gathers himself and boxes out defenders on fades and jump balls. Uses long arms and gets on his ladder to sky over cornerbacks and high point throws. Effortless strider with untapped vertical speed to go yard. Plus body control. Usually gets two feet in bounds on sideline throws. Plucks the ball with extended hands. Doesn’t fear hits from safeties. Almost impossible to guard on back-shoulder throws. Confident and competitive when the ball is in the air.”

If Waller doesn’t become a name every defense needs to know, it won’t be because he wasn’t given a great opportunity. Derek Carr, as everyone knows, loves to throw to tall, athletic tight ends.

It would be ideal to put Arden Key as the third breakout candidate, but despite how badly the Raiders need Key to have a big year, the third spot here will go to another defensive lineman. Eddie Vanderdoes missed all of 2018 after tearing his ACL at the end of his rookie year. A third-round pick in 2017, there’s no question Vanderdoes has great potential and should finally be healthy… but what does the new coaching staff think of him?

It’s a shot in the dark on Vanderdoes (his work ethic has been questioned in the past), but he should have every opportunity to make a name for himself in his third year. Will he take advantage?

As for Key, there are many with high expectations for the former LSU edge rusher in his sophomore NFL season. A strong vote of confidence, at least for now, isn’t coming from this corner of the interwebs. Hopefully, though, he’ll make fools of the doubters.

twitter: @raidersbeat