Exploring the numbers behind Las Vegas’ first two preseason games
It’s been an impressive month for the Las Vegas Raiders so far. The team is 2-0 heading into the preseason finale this Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, and several Raiders have put together some impressive individual performances.
To add some context to said performances, we’ll take a look at a few statistics that stand out and highlight what each player is doing well. This will also provide more information on players who are on the roster bubble with the final cutdown day looming in the near future.
Las Vegas, along with the rest of the league, will go from 80 players to 53 by next Tuesday, August 31st.
With Jalen Richard missing nearly all of training camp, the Raiders’ third running back spot was, and still is, open for the taking. The team has used three running backs this preseason, Trey Ragas, BJ Emmons and Bo Scarbrough.
Scarbrough has already been removed from the equation after getting cut last week, leaving Ragas and Emmons to battle it out, and the former seems to be pulling away.
Against Seattle, Ragas averaged an impressive 3.38 yards after contact per attempt and had six first-down runs, which was the second-most among running backs that week, per Pro Football Focus. He’s also had a couple of goal-line touchdowns and five receptions on seven targets for 44 yards in Las Vegas’ two preseason contests.
For what it’s worth, the undrafted free agent has the highest PFF pass-blocking grade at his position and hasn’t allowed a single quarterback pressure to date.
If the Raiders are handing out preseason awards, Nate Hobbs would be the favorite for MVP. Not only has he registered an interception and a pass breakup, but he also has allowed a mere 16.7 quarterback rating when targeted. The latter figure ranks tied for seventh among cornerbacks who have been targeted at least once this preseason.
In total, Hobbs has been thrown at six times and allowed three receptions for 12 yards this month. His 0.06 receiving yards allowed per coverage snap in the slot is currently the second-lowest mark in the league.
Finding a quality nickelback has been a long-standing issue for the Silver and Black, and they may have finally found their guy.
Typically, when offensive linemen stand out on the stat sheet it’s for the wrong reasons. However, that’s far from the case with Brandon Parker this August.
Parker currently ranks ninth among offensive tackles with a 79.5 PFF pass-blocking grade – minimum 19 snaps in pass protection – and has allowed one pressure, the second-fewest at the position. In fact, he’s the only tackle on Las Vegas’ roster whose pass-blocking grade is north of 50 this month.
The former third-round pick has come a long way since his rookie season and likely has the team’s swing tackle role locked down heading into September.
Unfortunately, Javin White’s preseason performance might get overshadowed by an injury but regardless, he was putting together an impressive campaign.
White leads all linebackers with three forced incompletions and has allowed just four receptions on seven targets for 38 yards. His PFF coverage grade (88.3) ranks seventh among backers with at least 12 coverage snaps, and his 72.3 passer rating when targeted is nothing to scoff at either.
For comparison’s sake, Nick Kwiatkoski had the lowest passer rating when targeted among Las Vegas’ starting linebackers last year with a mark of 83.8. Of course, the level of competition plays a factor in that juxtaposition, but it still serves as an example of how White has excelled in coverage to a level the Raiders haven’t seen at the position in a while.
Many people, including myself, probably didn’t expect to see Gerri Green’s name pop up in this column. He’s been in the NFL since 2019 but has never made an active roster, serving as a practice squad player for four different teams including the Raiders. However, Green has stood out as a run defender this preseason.
He leads Las Vegas’ defensive linemen with three run stops and has the highest PFF run-defense grade at 76.4 among players with at least 12 snaps against the run. Comparing him to other edge defenders around the league this preseason, those figures rank tied for third and 13th, respectively.
That being said, Green is still probably a long-shot to make the Raiders’ final roster. Yannick Ngakoue, Maxx Crosby, Carl Nassib and Malcolm Koonce will likely be the team’s only defensive ends to start the season. But Green might be able to earn a spot on the practice squad if no other team picks him up off waivers, albeit, that’s probably not what he’s hoping for.
Sticking within Las Vegas’ front seven, Darius Philon has put together an impressive month as a pass rusher.
He’s tied for the team lead with four pressures and is tied for second with a 16.7 percent pass-rush win rate. Against true pass sets, Philon’s 78.6 PFF pass-rush grade ranks tied for 12th among defensive tackles with at least 13 pass-rush snaps, and his win rate jumps to 35.7 percent, which is 10th-best within the position group.
A lot of that production came against the Seahawks as the veteran pass rusher was rather quiet against the Rams last Saturday. That means he’ll likely need a bounce-back performance against the 49ers this Sunday to fully secure a roster spot and/or a decent-sized role on the team.
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