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Las Vegas Raiders minicamp 2024: Brock Bowers, Christian Wilkins and others turn heads

Sat Jun 06, 2024, 1:11am

When the Las Vegas Raiders selected tight end Brock Bowers with the 13th-overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, Raider Nation couldn’t wait to see their team’s new weapon in action. We’re still a few months away from official regular season action, but Bowers and all members of the Silver and Black got their first chance to test each other courtesy of this year’s mandatory minicamp.

And Bowers, along with several of his teammates, left a phenomenal impression during the team’s annual minicamp.

Las Vegas’ coaching staff had already been blown away by Bowers prior to seeing what he can do at the pro-level. Raiders head coach Antonio Pierce referred to his rookie tight end as “Probably the most dynamic football player in college football” to play his position for some time.

Expectations were sky-high for Bowers heading into minicamp, and the rookie did nothing but impress.

All-Pro wideout Davante Adams couldn’t help but be amazed by the 21-year-old himself.

“That’s BM, man. That’s what I call him; BM, that’s the ‘Business Man‘,” Adams said when referencing Bowers following Day 1 of minicamp. “He don’t care about nothing else other than just locking in on football,” the Raiders’ star continued.

“He’s a big, strong dude and he’s focused and driven. Sky’s the limit for him.”

But Bowers wasn’t the only player who turned heads in minicamp. In fact, the Georgia alum wasn’t even the only player from his draft class who stood out.

Las Vegas Raiders minicamp 2024: The standouts

The selection of Brock Bowers was one the NFL-world couldn’t stop raving about. Despite drafting tight end Michael Mayer in the second round one year prior, it was understood how the Raiders couldn’t pass on a talent like Bowers. Delmar Glaze and Dylan Laube, however, were two picks that weren’t so highly thought of.

Throughout minicamp, both Glaze and Laube have shown exactly why they were added via the draft.

Glaze went into this year’s NFL Draft as a pass-protection specialist, and on Wednesday, he proved to be just that at the next level. More impressively, he did this by holding his own against not only 2023 first-round pick Tyree Wilson, but All-Pro edge rusher Maxx Crosby.

The 7’0″ wingspan of Glaze has been an invaluable asset. Coming into the draft, only five draft-eligible offensive linemen posted a better pass blocking grade than the Raiders’ rookie tackle (87.9).

Laube has impressed since his arrival in Las Vegas, and that has only continued throughout minicamp. Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy noted how the rookie running back has been quick to pick up everything that’s been tossed his way, stating, “You wouldn’t know [Laube] just got here.”

Cadillac Williams, the Raiders’ running back coach, also praised the rookie after Day 2 of minicamp.

“I think the best thing that he brings each and every day is he’s wise beyond his years,” Williams said about Laube. “He shows up like a vet, but he’s a rookie. He’s got his worker hat on and brings it each and every day, and he can take what he learned in the classroom and apply it on the field and always be in the right spots.”

Rookies shine in minicamp

“He’s got really good hands, quick, explosive, just a very cerebral player that can do a lot of things,” coach Williams noted of the Raiders’ sixth-rounder.

Those traits have been on full display during minicamp. Laube has been particularly impressive as a pass-catcher, hauling in a touchdown on a pass from Anthony Brown Jr. on Tuesday. The New Hampshire alum has even taken snaps as a member of the first-team passing offense.

Laube has also turned heads with his kick returning abilities, to no surprise of special teams coordinator Tom McMahon. Last month, McMahon described the rookie running back as someone who has a “high, high ‘give a darn meter’.”

In 2023, Laube was crowned the Phil Steele Special Teams Player of the Year as well as the CAA Special Teams Player of the Year. His 31.1 yards per kickoff return ranked third in the entire nation.

Rookies aren’t the only ones impressing at Raiders minicamp

Christian Wilkins was the Raiders biggest signing this offseason, and truthfully, perhaps the single biggest signing league-wide via free agency. The Raiders landing such a monstrous talent might’ve shocked some, but what won’t shock anybody is how Wilkins’ play in minicamp has demanded attention.

It’s never easy being asked which teammate has impressed you the most. Well, unless you’re Gardner Minshew. Then, the only answer is Christian Wilkins.

Earlier in the month, when asked which teammate left the biggest impression on him, Minshew, without hesitation, blurted out Wilkin’s name. “That dude is running so fast every single play wherever the ball is,” the first-year Raiders signal caller added. “It’s really impressive to be around a guy like that.”

Cornerback Nate Hobbs couldn’t help but give his own praise to Wilkins as well.

“He’s a freak of nature,” Hobbs said. “He’s 300-something pounds and the first one to the ball. I’ve never seen somebody that size move like that; that flexible, that bendy.”

It only took two plays in minicamp for Wilkins to prove his teammates’ words true. On one play during Day 1, he met Zamir White in the backfield. On the very next play – this time a passing down – he was in Aidan O’Connell’s face, forcing the second-year quarterback to throw the ball into the dirt.

But that’s just standard Christian Wilkins.

Jakorian Bennett is on the rise…

When we talk about Jakorian Bennett, we’re talking about a player who has all the talent you could ask for. He has lengthy arms that help him be a menace in coverage. His ball skills are fantastic: At Maryland, he totaled five career interceptions and held opposing quarterbacks to a 47.5 passer rating in 2023. Then there’s his speed: 4.30 40-time with the ability to quickly change direction.

The problem at the pro-level has been putting it all together. Or, it was (?).

On the first day of minicamp, Bennett stopped a hot Aidan O’Connell in his tracks by grabbing an interception. He didn’t forget about the other quarterback fighting to be the Raiders’ QB1, either. At the end of Day 2, Minshew also fell victim to Bennett’s ball skills as the second-year corner added another interception to his minicamp stats.

If this is a sign that Bennett is ready to take the next step, the Raiders are going to be all set at cornerback. Not just in the near future; for years to come.

Las Vegas Raiders seem to have found their emergency quarterback

Minshew and O’Connell will be Las Vegas’ QB1 and QB2, in an order that remains to be seen. That much is clear. After two days of minicamp, it seems equally as clear who will be the Raiders’ emergency quarterback.

Anthony Brown Jr.

Carter Bradley, son of former Raiders defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, was added to Las Vegas’ roster as an undrafted free agent to compete for the emergency quarterback role. Brown Jr. is notably separating himself, however.

Brown Jr. hit Laube for a touchdown on Day 1, then connected on a deep shot to Kristian Wilkerson for six the following day. The 25-year-old showed his athleticism by using his legs to move the chains on multiple occasions as well.

As far as his history in the NFL goes, it hasn’t been pretty for the Raiders signal caller. Brown Jr. has a 44.9% completion percentage alongside a 0:2 touchdown: interception ratio. Add in a 48.2 passer rating, and we’re staring at a down-right scary stat line.

Still, Raider Nation shouldn’t forget that Jarrett Stidham came to the Raiders with a career completion percentage of 50% in addition to a 2:4 touchdown: interception ratio. And, although Stidham wasn’t perfect in Las Vegas, he frequently looked like a starting quarterback.

*Top Photo: AP Photo/Associated Press

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