One rookie from each NFL team who will surprise in 2022

These rookies across the NFL could exceed expectations in Year 1 and make a significant impact this season

Every team expects a lot out of their top picks in the NFL draft, but they won’t be the only rookies who contribute in Year 1. There will be first-year players who emerge as valuable starters or key role players at some point this season.

It’s just difficult to predict which rookies will be the ones to step up and surprise both fans and analysts.

The NFL Wire network went team by team and selected one rookie who could be a pleasant surprise in 2022, highlighting players on an upward trajectory.

Davante Adams and Darren Waller named one of the NFL’s top duos

Raiders WR Davante Adams and TE Darren Waller might just be the NFL’s best receiving duo

With the addition of Davante Adams, the Raiders now have one of the most well-balanced groups of skill players in the NFL. Adams is arguably the best outside receiver in the league and Darren Waller is one of the most dynamic flex tight ends in the league.

Plus, the Raiders have two other Pro Bowlers in Hunter Renfrow and Josh Jacobs that are entering the primes of their careers. But Adams and Waller are what will make this offense thrive in 2022.

In a recent article by Kambui Bomani of Pro Football Focus, he named some of the top NFL duos heading into the 2022 season. That list included Adams and Waller, which is the best WR-TE duo in the league. Here is what he had to say about the pairing entering their first season together:

“Injuries marred Waller’s 2021 season en route to his lowest offensive grade in four years (69.7). When he’s healthy, Waller is one of the league’s most talented receiving weapons, boasting the third-best tight end WAR figure since 2019 (1.19).

Meanwhile, new teammate Davante Adams owns the top WAR mark among wide receivers since 2017 (2.73) and seems destined to continue his greatness alongside quarterback Derek Carr, who he played with at Fresno State. Expect Adams and Waller to emerge as one of the premier WR/TE duos this upcoming season.”

Assuming the offensive line can hold up for the Raiders, it’s going to be awfully hard for opponents to stop this offense. They just have too many players on offense that excel in beating man-to-man coverage and Derek Carr has always been excellent at finding the open receiver.

It’s tough to find any receiving duo that is more proven and dynamic than Adams and Waller going into the 2022 season.

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Bleacher Report proposes a trade of Foster Moreau to Packers

Could #Raiders TE Foster Moreau be a trade target for some teams before the 2022 season?

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NFL rosters are mostly set for the 2022 season as each team has about a month off before they head to training camp. But there are always a few moves and trades that happen in the summer before practices begin.

So is there a trade the Raiders could make to add some more draft capital for the 2023 offseason without significantly hurting their Super Bowl chances this season?

In a recent article by Ian Wharton of Bleacher Report, he proposed one trade for every team before training camps start in July. For the Packers, that was adding a veteran tight end. He suggested the team trade away their 2023 third-round pick for Foster Moreau. Here is a snippet of his reasoning behind the trade:

Going back to the Raiders could be fruitful for Green Bay. Backup tight end Foster Moreau will be a free-agent after 2022, and he’s stuck behind All-Pro candidate Darren Waller. Moreau had a career-high 30 receptions for 373 yards last year and has 10 touchdowns in his three seasons.

The Raiders would likely prefer to keep Moreau in Josh McDaniels’ offense, so a third-round pick would be the sweetener to land him. Moreau is athletic enough to continue playing after Tonyan is back, and head coach Matt LaFleur would surely maximize his opportunities in the red zone since he’s a proven threat near the goal line.

The Raiders have big plans for Moreau as he is set to play a ton in two tight-end sets for Josh McDaniels. But with Moreau entering the final year of his contract, it might not be the worst idea in the world to move him if you could secure a third-round pick.

Considering Moreau’s overall lack of receiving production, that price tag seems a bit high. And that’s ultimately why a deal like this won’t get done. He has more value to the Raiders this season than a Day 3 pick and he provides some insurance if Darren Waller can’t stay healthy.

While this deal is fun to think about, don’t expect the Raiders to trade Foster Moreau any time soon.

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Raiders TE Darren Waller has one of the most team-friendly contracts in NFL

Darren Waller’s contract with the #Raiders is among the best deals in the NFL

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The Raiders handed out a ton of money this offseason, paying players like Derek Carr, Maxx Crosby, Davante Adams and Chandler Jones. They even signed Hunter Renfrow to a reasonable contract extension this offseason, as well. But what current contract on their books is among the best in the NFL?

In a recent article by Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus, he wrote about the top 32 veteran contracts in the NFL heading into the 2022 season. Coming in at No. 3 was the contract extension for Darren Waller, which will pay him $14 million over the next two seasons.

Here is a small snippet of Spielberger’s thoughts on that deal and why it’s so team-friendly for the Raiders:

“The top of the position market has failed to grow beyond George Kittle’s $15 million per year average, but a second-tier continues to flourish, with the most recent addition being Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku on a four-year, $54.75 million extension.

Waller has more receiving yards over his past 27 regular-season games than Njoku has in 65 career contests, but the Raider now earns about half as much annually. That should change in the near future.”

Since Waller became the team’s starting tight end at the start of the 2019 season, he’s averaged an incredible 70 receiving yards per game. That trails only Travis Kelce and George Kittle during that timespan. Not only is he one of the most dynamic receiving tight ends in the league, but he is also one of the most consistent from game to game.

As long as Waller can stay healthy, he should have another monster season for the Raiders. And with the addition of Davante Adams and the emergence of Hunter Renfrow, this could be his best season yet in terms of efficiency and production.

The Raiders know that Waller has outplayed his contract, so expect them to figure something out before the season begins. Regardless, it’s hard to argue that there are many better contracts in the entire league than the current deal with Waller and the Raiders.

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Derek Carr named ‘best value pick’ by Raiders since 2006

Who is the best value draft pick by the #Raiders since 2006?

While the first round of the NFL Draft hasn’t been kind to the Raiders over the last two decades, they’ve hit big on several players later in the draft. Even in recent years, they’ve struck gold with Maxx Crosby, Hunter Renfrow, and Nate Hobbs, all of who were drafted on Day 3.

But which pick has been their best outside of Round 1 over the last 15 or 20 years? Well, that answer is pretty obvious.

In a recent article by Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus, he named each team’s best value selection since 2006. And for the Raiders, that was none other than Derek Carr in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Here is what Renner had to say about that selection:

Maxx Crosby could be a good pick here, as he was taken two rounds later, but Carr obviously plays the more valuable position. (Derek) Carr is one of only four quarterbacks who was drafted outside the first round in the PFF era and is currently being paid over $30 million per year (Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins and Prescott as well).

Finding a franchise quarterback at any point in the draft represents major value, but doing so in the second round is almost unheard of as Renner mentioned. He’s improved in each of the last three seasons and led the Raiders to the playoffs during the 2021 season.

We can debate if Derek Carr is a top-10 quarterback or not, but what we can’t even argue is that he was an amazing pick by the Raiders in the 2014 NFL Draft. He is among the best draft values in the league over the last few decades.

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NFL Network predicts outcome of every 2022 Raiders game

NFL Network predicts the outcome of every 2022 Raiders game

The Las Vegas Raiders are entering a huge 2022 season after making the playoffs last season. They nearly upset the Bengals in Cincinnati in Round 1 of the playoffs, but now they are looking to make a Super Bowl run.

To accomplish that, they are going to have to fight and claw their way through the toughest division in the NFL. So what type of record can we expect from the Raiders this season?

Adam Rank of the NFL Network gave a game-by-game prediction for the Raiders and broke down their schedule. Let’s take a look at how he expects each game for the Raiders to go this season.

Offensive line remains the biggest concern for Raiders this season

What one more move do the #Raiders need to make this offseason?

The next five to six weeks are usually slow months in the NFL news cycle. Players and coaches take this time to relax before the grind of training camp and the regular season kicks in.

But the good organizations continue to find ways to upgrade and improve their teams over the next few weeks. So what should the Raiders try to get done before training camp begins?

In a recent article by Field Yates of ESPN, he named the one last move every team needs to accomplish this offseason. For the Raiders, that was solving their right tackle problem from last year. Here is what Yates had to say about that spot going into the summer:

“I’ve made the case this offseason that right tackle might be the most important spot for each AFC West team because the division is flooded with great pass-rushers, and while each team has a rock-solid player at left tackle, right tackle is a less established group.

For the Raiders specifically, this includes placing 2021 first-round pick Alex Leatherwood somewhere after he played the bulk of his rookie season at right guard. He finished his college career at Alabama as a left tackle and was a projected right tackle on draft night, so perhaps he’ll settle back in there. Other options include Brandon Parker and Jermaine Eluemunor.”

Leatherwood has taken a majority of the first-team reps at right tackle during OTAs and minicamp, so it appears that is the direction the Raiders are leaning at the moment. But expect Leatherwood, Parker and Eluemunor to all get a chance to win that job during training camp.

But it wouldn’t hurt for the Raiders to explore the veteran tackle market. There are still some quality options in free agency and there might be a few right tackles available via trade over the next two months. They should be exploring every avenue possible to improve their offensive line before the season begins.

If the Raiders can sort out their offensive line by Week 1 and get some solid play from the right side, they’ll be a legitimate Super Bowl contender. But what’s more than likely is that the offensive line is what holds them back from advancing deep into the playoffs.

This is still an incredibly talented team, but the offensive line is a massive question mark. But just how big of a problem might it be this season? That’s still up in the air.

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Raiders select WR Michael Pittman Jr. over Henry Ruggs in 2020 NFL redraft

Who should the #Raiders have selected at No. 12 in the 2020 NFL Draft?

The 2019 draft was a bad one for the Raiders as they did not pick up any of the three fifth-year options for their first-round picks. However, they did get solid play out of Josh Jacobs and even Johnathan Abram has had his moments with the team.

The 2020 draft was far worse for the Raiders in Round 1 as both Henry Ruggs and Damon Arnette were released midseason in 2021. Ruggs was charged with DUI resulting in death and Arnette had several incidents with the team on and off the field.

So who should the Raiders have selected with their first of two first-round picks in 2020?

In a recent article by Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus, he re-drafted the entire first round from that draft. For the Raiders at No. 12, he gave them USC wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. over Ruggs. Here is what he had to say about that selection:

“Pittman took a clear step forward in his second season out of USC last year for the Colts despite inconsistent play at the quarterback position, raising his PFF grade from 62.8 as a rookie to 79.9 in 2021.

He’s an impressive route runner — particularly for his size — and is coming off a season where he caught 64.3% of his contested targets (second among wide receivers with at least 25 contested targets).

Pittman might not be the vertical threat that Las Vegas was searching for with the Ruggs’ selection, but he has a case as the best receiver left on the board in a talented class.”

When the Raiders were on the clock at No. 12, they had their choice of any receiver in the class. But in this re-draft, Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb, and Tee Higgins were all drafted inside the top-10. Still, Linsey gave them a highly productive receiver in Pittman.

Pittman caught 88 passes during the 2021 season, totaling 1,082 yards and six touchdowns. He’s known as being one of the most physical receivers in the league and he could have a breakout season in 2022 with Matt Ryan now under center for the Colts.

With their other first-round pick, Linsey gave them Kristian Fulton from LSU. The Raiders really needed secondary help and many thought Fulton (or Trevon Diggs) would be options at No. 19. Instead, they reached on Arnette, who many viewed as a mid-Day 3 player.

Drafting is always easy in hindsight, but these were two picks that felt like major reaches at the time. And for very different reasons, neither ended up working out for the Raiders.

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Raiders aren’t projected to have much cap space over next three seasons

Where do the #Raiders rank among projected cap space over the next three years?

The Raiders spent a ton of cap dollars this year, giving brand new extensions to several key players. They are clearly trying to win now and have thrown caution to the wind when it comes to their future.

But how does their cap situation compare to the rest of the league over the next few years?

In a recent article by Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus, he took a look at every team’s projected cap space over the next three seasons and potential free agents. The Raiders did not score well here, ranking at No. 29 in effective cap space.

Here is what Spielberger had to say about the cap health for the Raiders through the 2024 season:

“The Raiders arguably have more pressure to perform than any team in the NFL entering the 2022 campaign, as the team has lofty expectations after a playoff bid was followed by massive acquisitions of wide receiver Davante Adams and edge defender Chandler Jones in addition to extensions for quarterback Derek Carr and edge defender Maxx Crosby.

Both extensions are very team-friendly, and, in theory, could set up the team for years to come.”

You have to admire the front office for being willing to spend the cap space and go all-out for the next few years. They are trying to win and they want to win now.

If that happens, they will look like geniuses. If not, they’ll have a big mess to clean up. But the goal is to win the Super Bowl, right? So why not go all-in?

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ESPN projects the Raiders to keep just two quarterbacks on 53-man roster

How many quarterbacks will the #Raiders keep on the 53-man roster this year?

One position the Raiders have shuffled a lot this offseason is quarterback. Derek Carr is entrenched as the starter, signing a big extension this offseason. But behind him, there is a lot of uncertainty.

The Raiders traded for former Patriots QB Jarrett Stidham a few months ago and also signed Nick Mullens. They’ve brought in a few other quarterbacks and even worked out Colin Kaepernick. But how many will they actually keep on the active roster?

In a recent article by Paul Gutierrez of ESPN, he made his first 53-man roster prediction for the Raiders going into the summer. One of the surprises was the team keeping only two quarterbacks on the roster;  Carr and Jarett Stidham. Here is Gutierrez’s explanation behind keeping just two quarterbacks on the active roster:

“Wait, only two QBs? Yeah, for now. McDaniels’ old employer in New England was not shy about sticking with only two quarterbacks, so this will free up another spot down the roster. Again, for now. Carr is the unquestioned starter and Stidham knows the offense.

Keep an eye, though, on Colin Kaepernick, who worked out for Las Vegas in late June, even though the Raiders also have Nick Mullens and Chase Garbers on the roster after OTAs and minicamp.”

Under McDaniels in New England, the Patriots have historically only kept two quarterbacks on their active roster. They will keep a quarterback or two on the practice squad, but they usually try to save the extra roster spot on the roster for someone who can help out on special teams.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Patriots usually had a former quarterback on the roster somewhere, such as Julian Edelman or Danny Amendola. That’s something the Raiders don’t currently have so that might force their hand when it comes to how many quarterbacks they keep on the roster.

Carr and Stidham are the only locks to make the roster and the Raiders might still be searching for a viable No. 3 option. But if they do keep a third quarterback, look for it to be Mullens considering all of his NFL experience.

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