Quick study Gareon Conley has been getting work at the slot corner position. Oakland likes his length and speed to match up with slot receivers and the competition he brings to the returning starters. The Raiders like situational starters and they see Conley as a guy who can cover receivers to keep them from getting deep. For now, Conley is a second team slot corner behind Travis Carrie. Football smart Obi Melifonwu fills a hybrid linebacker/safety role. The Raiders see him as a disruptor who can win matchups with his length, size, and athletic ability. The ex-Connecticut safety should help cover tight ends and running backs in sub packages. Melifonwu has first unit responsibilities as a second team strong safety. Eddie Vanderdoes missed the offseason program because of the NCAA graduation rule. The ex-UCLA Bruin will be competing with Darius Latham and Justin Ellis. He is a versatile talent who is tough, physical, and aggressive in his play. He can impact the game as a disruptive gap penetrator if he stays healthy. David Sharpe was getting first team reps at right tackle when Marshall Newhouse sat out practice due to injury. The Raiders see Sharpe as a future starter at right or left tackle. Donald Penn’s career is winding down at left tackle. Newhouse, Austin Howard, and Vadal Alexander will compete to start at right tackle. Marquel Lee is getting second team reps behind Cory James and Tyrell Adams. He is in the mix to start in the middle with competition coming from Ben Heeney and James. The key to Lee getting on the field is his ability to carry and cover a tight end down the field. Lee had 20 tackles for loss last year. Will have to excel on special teams’ coverage while waiting for his shot at inside linebacker. Shalom Luani flashed during camp with good ball reactions by getting his hands on some passes. Luani is instinctive and jumped an underneath route while he was with the second unit and picked off Connor Cook. The first-team All-Pac 12 safety is quickfooted with natural ball skills. Pro day numbers: 5113, 202, 4.55/40, 12/BP, 31/VJ, 9-7/BJ, 4.21/SS, and 6.87/3 cone. Jylan Ware is a developmental offensive tackle who has size and athletic ability. He needs technique work. Overextends and doesn’t bring his feet. Position wall off blocker. Will over-set. Struggles with speed rushers. Pro day numbers: 6074, 317, 5.06/40, 1.73/10, 29/VJ, 9-5/BJ, 4.70/SS, and 7.96/3 cone. Elijah Hood may have a role to carry the ball late in games after Marshawn Lynch hammers defenders for three quarters. He is turning heads in camp as a power back with downhill running skills. Quick and easy vision. Must improve his receiving skills and durability issues. Treyvon Hester has impressed the Raiders during OTAs as a natural pass rusher from the inside. He has earned first team reps in mandatory mini-camp. Oakland lost Stacy McGee and cut Dan Williams so there is a need for Hester to step up. He is explosive with good hip flexibility. GRADE: AVERAGE.
FREE AGENCY: The Raiders only guaranteed about 11 million dollars in free agent contracts. Tight end Jared Cook and receiver Cordarrelle Patterson both received five million in guaranteed contracts over two years. Marshall Newhouse was signed to compete in the offensive line. Jelani Jenkins (OB) and EJ Manuel (QB) were also brought aboard and Marshawn Lynch (RB) was acquired by trade.
NOTABLE UNDRAFTED COLLEGE FREE AGENTS: Fadol Brown (Mississippi) DE, Paul Boyette Jr. (Texas) DT, and Pharaoh Brown (Oregon) TE.