Raiders add to new identity under Antonio Pierce with TE Brock Bowers, 2024 NFL Draft class

The ultimate example of what the Raiders can be under coach Antonio Pierce is the team’s victory over the Chiefs on Christmas. After dominating the dynamic Kansas City offense on national television, Pierce talked about the new Raider Way that features ill intent, violence, physicality, and pain.

On that day, those attributes were most evident on defense. Led by defensive end Maxx Crosby, that unit made the eventual Super Bowl champions, and their superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes, look more vulnerable than ever due to intense effort and physicality.

But what about the Raiders offense? Though Las Vegas ran the ball with powerful running back Zamir White to close that game out, they didn’t dish out much “pain” to the Chiefs defense that day, at least not on par with Crosby and the defense.

The Raiders 2024 NFL Draft class will bring the toughness that Pierce envisions to the offensive side of the ball. First-round pick Brock Bowers is not only supremely skilled and athletic, he’s tough as nails. He’ll run around defenders or over them after catching the football. According to NFL Media, Bowers’ “secret sauce might be his ability to rip through tacklers and pile on yardage after the catch.” And he possesses “exceptional toughness and contact balance with the ball in his hands.”

In my estimation, Bowers has the talent and toughness to change the Raiders’ identity on offense and make that side of the ball play with the same “ill intent” as the defense. That speaks to Pierce’s vision for his entire team, not just on defense, his specialty as a former NFL linebacker.

The Raiders added more physicality and toughness to the offense with their second-round pick, guard Jackson Powers-Johnson. At 6-foot-3 and 330 pounds, Powers-Johnson plays with “a rugged, disdainful attitude toward opponents” according to NFL Media‘s scouting report, which also called Powers-Johnson “a fierce competitor with a salty disposition.”

A former wrestler, Powers-Johnson owns skill that rivals his toughness, just like Bowers.

And while the Raiders had a need in the draft for a quarterback, either a top pick or a developmental player in the later rounds, Pierce and new general manager Tom Telesco didn’t reach for one. Instead, they added more physical players in right tackle D.J. Glaze and linebacker Tommy Eichenberg. Plus, they drafted players at positions of more dire need, like cornerback Decamerion Richardson.

That’s largely because the top signal-callers were selected early in the draft. But I also believe it’s because Pierce and the Raiders want to build a tough identity that can only be sustained by drafting players who fit the mold.

Whether players new to the Raiders know it or not, they’ll have to match the effort level of Crosby, the team’s “ill intent” ringleader. Players on defense already know this. Some players on offense are aware of this as well. But adding Crosby-level toughness to that side of the ball is necessary if Pierce’s vision for the “Raider Way” is to materialize.

The offense received just that in Bowers and Powers-Johnson. While the Raiders didn’t get the shiny new QB that many fans wanted and many NFL observers expected Vegas to acquire, they got a massive dose of toughness and skill on offense to help lay the foundation for Pierce, as he attempts to restore the Raiders’ storied tradition of greatness.

Story originally appeared on Raiders Wire