The Raiders released their first depth chart of the season, which always leads to a ridiculous amount of unnecessary hand-wringing from fans.
Here’s the amount of thought Raiders coach Jack Del Rio puts into it.
“I don’t really worry about it this time of year, but we’ll have something out there for you,” Del Rio said Sunday.
Del Rio jokes that it’s all the work of Raiders PR man Will Kiss, although Del Rio does actually have quite a hand in how it comes out. But still, it’s only an initial depth chart and it doesn’t mean a ton.
Since Twitter quickly lit up after I tweeted out the depth chart when it was released, I’ll address the top questions I got asked there and give a little explanation to some of what you see.
There were a few shocked responses to Lee Smith over Clive Walford as the No. 1 tight end to which I ask, where have you been? Smith was listed as the No. 1 tight end all of last season when he caught a grand total of … 12 receptions (which actually was a career high). It’s all about roles here folks. Smith is the team’s blocking tight end. And with his veteran status, they show him the respect of listing him as the No. 1 tight end. Walford at No. 2 is actually a promotion from last year when he was listed behind Mychal Rivera. Have no fear, Walford is the No. 1 tight end receiving option.
A few questions also rolled in about Jamize Olawale over Marcel Reece at fullback. Again, that’s no surprise. Olawale finished last season with a bigger offensive role than Reece and there’s also the not so small matter that Reece is suspended for the first three games of this season.
Everything else on the offense is fairly self-explanatory. I imagine listing Taiwan Jones as the backup running back for now is a matter of showing respect to a veteran, but I’d be surprised if it’s not Washington by Week 1.
On defense, I got at least one response about Jihad Ward being listed as a starter, which again shouldn’t have been a major surprise to anyone. With Denico Autry out all offseason and only just now returning this week, Ward has been getting the first team repetitions at the spot the Raiders are calling defensive tackle but is essentially a 3-4 defensive end role. Now that Autry is back, he’ll have a chance to compete with Ward for that job, but it’s not a given he can overtake the rookie.
Justin Ellis over Dan Williams at nose tackle is another that seemed to catch some off-guard, even though it shouldn’t have. Williams came into camp pretty heavy and has to work himself back into shape, while Ellis came in looking really good. Both guys are going to share that spot, but for now, Ellis is the starter and the first- and second-team defenses are listed exactly how I wouldn’t expected them.
With the return spots, no surprise to see TJ Carrie and Taiwan Jones as the starters as Brad Seely had been clear those guys would have to get beat out to lose their spots. DeAndre Washington as the backup at both shows what they’ve seen so far out of him and he seems to be getting to be a little smoother with handling kicks.
Join me at 1 p.m. for a Facebook Live chat to talk more about the Raiders’ initial depth chart. To do so, give our Bay Area News Group Raiders Facebook page a like.