Following the concussion of the 2023 NFL Draft, where the Las Vegas Raiders fulfilled the dreams of nine newly acquired rookies by having their names announced at the podium in Kansas City, 10 additional rookie prospects were added to the roster via the undrafted free agency pool.
Over recent years, the Raiders have found many diamonds in the rough in the UDFA pool– Alec Ingold, Keelan Doss, etc. – with running back Sincere McCormick, safety Isaiah Pola-Mao, and linebackers Darien Butler and Luke Masterson being the most recent. Who will be the latest rookies to be added to the list that overcame the odds to make the 53-man roster?
Introducing the 10 newly acquired UDFAs who will compete for a roster spot on the 2023 Raiders come training camp:
OG McClendon Curtis, Chattanooga
McClendon Curtis, the local hero out of the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, is a versatile offensive lineman who makes a strong case for making the final roster this season as a back-up swing guy. Moreover, with him boasting exceptional awareness at recognizing stunts and delayed blitzes in pass protection and consistently finishing blocks in the run game, expect the 6′ 6″, 325-lb rookie UDFA to be given an opportunity to compete for the seemingly vacant right guard position. Keep an eye out for Curtis this off-season.
Arkansas OL Dalton Wagner
There is no doubt that Dalton Wagner poses a level of intimidation at the offensive tackle position, at a massive 6′ 9″ and 320-lbs. The UDFA out of Arkansas displays excellent hand placement when blocking for the run while consistently finishing blocks at the second level, yet has issues with maintaining a low pad level in pass protection, which is a major concern. However, if Offensive Line Coach Carmen Bricillo can polish up Wagner’s discrepancies, Wagner has the upside potential to make the roster as a back-up right tackle. He will be an intriguing project who should be closely monitored this off-season.
Brock Martin, EDGE, Oklahoma St.
Brock Martin shows value when placed in the game as a 3-4 outside linebacker, specifically with the opportunity to get after the quarterback in obvious passing situations. On the flip side, if Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham dials up a 4-3 or nickel scheme, Martin has an uphill climb to make when it comes to making the final roster as an Edge/Defensive End, yet displays suitable intangibles with excellent closing speed and bend coming around the edge. Look for Martin to compete hard in camp with newly acquired veteran Jordan Willis and 2021 3rd-round pick Malcolm Koonce for a spot as a rotational edge.
Azizi Hearn, CB, UCLA
Azizi Hearn’s stock has been on the rise since UCLA’s Pro Day, putting on an impressive performance with a 4.46-second 40-yard sprint, a 37.5″ vertical jump, a 10′ 7″ broad jump, and 18 reps on the bench press at 225-lbs. The seemingly off the radar prospect from Oceanside, CA, specializes in the Cover-3 scheme, which fits in perfectly with what Patrick Graham likes to dial up. Look for Hearn to make a name for himself at special teams as a gunner and possibly a versatile rotational piece as a cornerback/free safety.
Drake Thomas, LB, NC State
Drake Thomas makes a strong case for himself in making the roster as a 4-3 Will Linebacker, as he excels at tracking down running backs with good sideline-to-sideline speed. As he is limited when it comes to pass coverage, he makes up for it with his ability to get after the quarterback while quickly shooting gaps in run defense. Thomas will have to be a standout in special teams and make the most of his reps on defense in order to earn a roster spot as a rotational linebacker.
George Tarlas, EDGE, Boise St.
George Tarlas is one of those high-motor players who has all of the makings of being a pre-season fan favorite this coming August. Tarlas, as mentioned, has an exceptional motor with an NFL-level spin move when pass rushing, coupled with a relentless bull rush. He also shows versatility by showing the ability to rush the quarterback in a 2 and 3-point stance. Tarlas will face steep competition at camp for that final edge spot on the roster, so a groundbreaking training camp is a must for the UDFA.
Jaydon Grant, S, Oregon State
Jaydon Grant is a physical cover safety who boasts most of his strengths while playing the position in the box. When covering the run, he is a sound plus tackler who isn’t afraid to make a hit despite his slight build of 6′ 0″ and 181-lbs. His quick feet and ability to quickly change direction in coverage make him formidable competition in camp, but he will likely be a practice squad guy due to his lack of straight-line speed and size at the safety position.
Adam Plant Jr., DE, UNLV
Raiders General Manager Dave Zeigler and Coach Josh McDaniels are attempting to, what seemingly looks like, capture lightning in a bottle by acquiring the Las Vegas native, Adam Plant Jr. Plant, the 6′ 5″, 255-lb edge, is coming off an excellent year at UNLV, tallying eight sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles. He made a case for a spot on an NFL roster with a solid performance at UNLV’s Pro Day, running a 4.85-second 40-yard sprint and putting up 19 reps on the bench press at 225-lbs. Plant will have steep competition in training camp this summer, but has the motivational upper-hand with the possibility of playing for the hometown team.
Jordan Perryman, DB, Washington
Jordan Perryman, former cornerback, has to be viewed as more of a project for the Raiders, as he has more of a build and physical ability to play safety. Perryman is an effective cover corner but is more wowing when covering underneath routes. Additionally, his presence is intimidating when covering receivers running cross route patterns, as he does not hesitate to impose his will on them. If the scheme fit is right for Perryman, look for him to be a long-term project for Patrick Graham and this regime.
John Samuel Shenker, TE, Auburn
John Samuel Shenker made a name for himself during his time at Auburn, earning the team’s all-time reception record and single-season yards receiving records for a tight end. What is most impressive about Shenker is his ability to run block, crushing defenders on any given play. Look for the Raiders to possibly find a place for Shenker at the TE3 position,
as he shows the potential to be a blocking goal-line tight end or fullback, if needed.