It finally happened. The No. 7 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft finally practiced with the Raiders for the first time since being selected. Tyree Wilson was activated on Wednesday and got to join the team for practice.
The Raiders are using extreme caution with Wilson to ensure that he doesn’t injure his surgically repaired foot. That means he likely won’t play this week and there is a chance that the team doesn’t even suit him up in the preseason at all.
And that’s because he is one of their most important players this year. In a recent article by ESPN, Wilson was named the biggest “X factor” for the Raiders this season. Here is a snippet of what they had to say about the former Texas Tech star:
Sure, the Raiders already have two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Maxx Crosby, who had 12.5 sacks last season, and a potential future Hall of Famer in Chandler Jones, who is primed for a bounce-back season, but the Raiders used the No. 7 overall pick to make a strength even stronger at edge rusher.
Wilson, though, opened camp on the NFI (non-football injury) list before being activated Wednesday after a foot injury ended his college season in November. His healthy presence would help not only the pass rush, but also the pass coverage for a defense in need of an upgrade.
If Wilson can come right in and be productive, the Raiders could have one of the most disruptive pass rushes in the league. And with Maxx Crosby only getting better every year, Wilson’s job should be pretty easy as he gets one-on-one matchups. Can he capitalize on those opportunities? That remains to be seen.
His success (or lack thereof) will be critical to the overall success of the defense as the unit is pretty young and unproven at linebacker and cornerback. The Raiders need Wilson to be productive right away. That much is for certain. And if he’s not, the entire defense could struggle again in 2023.