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Raiders’ undrafted free agents begin NFL journey

Ten undrafted free agents were expected to arrive at Raiders headquarters in Henderson on Thursday, at which point they will sign their contracts and begin their NFL journeys.

Odds are against most of them making the 53-man roster as rookies, but recent history suggests two or three will win a full-time job and others will spend the season on the practice squad, if not somewhere else.

Last year, former UNLV linebacker Javin White was a surprise hit during training came and spent the season splitting time between the active roster and practice squad.

Two years ago, fullback Alec Ingold and punter A.J. Cole won starting jobs, and cornerback Keisean Nixon has played in 29 games in the past two years.

Andre James, a 2019 undrafted free agent, is expected to replace Rodney Hudson as the starting center this season.

The Raiders hope to uncover similar gems in this cycle. Two players, in particular, stand out as possible additions on the offensive and defensive lines.

While the team made several additions to the defensive line in free agency, there could be room for a developmental player because only five current players are under contract beyond 2021.

That makes West Virginia defensive tackle Darius Stills a player to watch. His size — 6 feet 1 inch and 285 pounds — probably affected his draft status. But he had a total of 10.5 sacks and 22 tackles behind the line of scrimmage in his final two seasons, proof that he has the ability to create pressure with his quickness and athletic ability.

Former Stanford and Duke standout Devery Hamilton has the size — 6-9 and 310 pounds — to compete for a roster spot at an offensive tackle position that features Kolton Miller on the left side and rookie Alex Leatherwood on the right.

Behind Miller and Leatherwood is uncertainty. Brandon Parker has been unable to seize opportunities in the past three years, and Jaryd Jones-Smith has appeared in just three games since entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2019.

Hamilton seems ticketed for the practice squad initially. But with Parker and Jones-Smith signed only through 2021, Hamilton has an opportunity to prove he’s a long-range option.

The Raiders are set at slot wide receiver with Hunter Renfrow and Willie Snead, but Oklahoma State’s Dillon Stoner has a crafty edge to his game and, at 6-0, 200 pounds, brings quickness and physicality as an inside receiver.

The rest of the undrafted free agent class is comprised of Brigham Young tight end Matt Bushman, Pittsburgh wide receiver DJ Turner, Louisiana running back Trey Ragas, Boston College linebacker Max Richardson, Wisconsin running back Garrett Groshek, Notre Dame safety Shaun Crawford and Stony Brook cornerback-safety TJ Morrison.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on Twitter.

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