Film Session: Two UDFA’s That Could Make The Raiders 53-Man Roster

With the third week of preseason in the books, the 53-man roster is beginning to come into focus. Every year there are a few surprise veteran cuts made to make room for younger guys that may not have initially seemed to be more than a camp body. This year is no different and the Raiders coaching staff have a few undrafted free agents that have made a case to be included among the group who survives the final roster cuts. Let’s take a look at the top two:

Keelan Doss

The first name shouldn’t come as a surprise to fans. If there was a “Pre-season MVP” award, wide receiver Keelan Doss would have to be the favorite to take it home. Over the first three games the 6’3, 206-pound rookie has pulled in 11 of his 14 targets for a 78.5% completion rate. Doss has turned those opportunities into 99 yards and a touchdown while averaging 9 yards per reception.

Of course completions and yards are not always equal. A 10-yard reception looks nice on paper but it doesn’t have quite the same impact if it came on a 3rd & 15 situation. That isn’t the case here as seven of Doss’ 11 receptions (63.6%) have resulted in a first down and 40 of his 99 yards (40.4%) have come after the catch. Getting the ball into his hands has been extremely  benefitial for the Raiders offense.

Head Coach Jon Gruden and General Manager Mike Mayock were able to overhaul the wide reciever position after years of underproduction. All the talent they added may be the only thing that could possibly keep Doss off the final roster. Guys like Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, and even Hunter Renfrow are locks to take three of the five or six available spots, so the competition is going to be fierce.

It speaks voulumes about the job Gruden has done reshaping the roster considering Doss would have probobly been the best reciever on the team only a few short years ago. Now we will have to wait and see if the staff values his potental over more seasoned players, though it seems highly unlikely that Keelan won’t be on the squad come week one.

 

Anthony Rush

Defensive tackle Anthony Rush is a massive 6’5, 350-pound rookie out of Alabama-Birmingham. After being waived by the Philadelphia Eagles, the Raiders were able to get him into camp after stealing him away from yet another team (the Detroit Lions were attempting to create a roster spot for him). Gruden and Rush both have to be ecstatic that things worked out the way they did.

Playing the 1-techniqe doesn’t lend itself to filling up stat sheets and Rush has only knotched 9 tackles through the pre-season. Though as some of the clips below highlight, he has looked like a man playing with childen at times. He has consistently reset the line of scrimmage (LOS) into the backfield and has been too strong for the offensive linemen to handle.

If there is a case to be made to keep him off the roster it would be that all of this physical dominance has come against back-ups – though that is no fault of his own. Unlike the previous wide receiver position, there are questions surrounding some of the veterans ahead of Rush. The other 1-techniques on the roster are Johnathan Hankins, Justin Ellis, and likely Eddie Vanderdoes. Hankins had a really good 2018 campaign with Oakland and he is the only one entrenched on the 2019 roster.

After turning in a dominate performance in his first game as a rookie, Vanderdoes has been plagued with injuries and could be a roster casualty because of it. Ellis has been dealing with injuries of his own and could be on the bubble, as well – though he has to be considered likely to return if healthy. But either one of those players being released would very likely open a spot for Rush. Just like Doss, it would be a real surprise if Anthony Rush doesn’t make the team.

No question, the front office combination of Mayock and Gruden have vastly overhauled the talent level on the roster. Players who would have been the #1 option a few seasons ago are now battling to make the team. It’s also a great sign that the scouting department is finding late round gems.

Cuts have already begun for some teams and there will be many more made before the season starts – just don’t expect to hear Doss or Rush to be among them.

Twitter: @ChrisReed_NFL

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1 thought on “Film Session: Two UDFA’s That Could Make The Raiders 53-Man Roster

  1. Keishean Nixon CB-special teams #38 I think will make the 53 also. Hope to see Doss on special teams in preseason finale

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