In his first in-game action since the wild-card round of last season's playoffs, former Minnesota Vikings cornerback Duke Shelley took the field on Sunday as a member of the Las Vegas Raiders. Shelley and his new team kicked off their 2023 preseason schedule with a matchup against Trey Lance and the San Francisco 49ers.
Midway through the second quarter of the game, Lance and the 49ers lined up for a 1st-and-Goal play from the Raiders' nine-yard line. The San Francisco quarterback took the snap, faked the handoff, rolled out to his right, squared up his shoulders, and fired a pass in the middle of the end zone that appeared to be intended for 49ers wide receiver Chris Conley.
Instead of being hauled in by Conley, however, the pass was almost picked off by Shelley and somehow landed in the hands of San Francisco tight end Ross Dwelley for the touchdown.
It was an unfortunate outcome to the play for Shelley, who is not a guarantee to end up on Las Vegas' final 2023 roster. The former Vikings corner was on the field for a total of 24 snaps for the Raiders on Sunday (22 on defense, two on special teams), and he finished the matchup with two tackles.
Despite a sensational performance with Minnesota in 2022, Shelley is currently listed as a fourth-string cornerback on Las Vegas' unofficial depth chart. Now, it is unofficial, but it doesn't sound like the Raiders view him as one of the top corners on their roster right now.
With the Vikings in 2022, Shelley emerged as a starter midway through the season, and he went on to deliver the best single-season performance of his NFL career.
He finished the 2022 campaign with the fourth-best defensive grade from PFF among qualifying cornerbacks, and his coverage grade from PFF was better than guys like Jaire Alexander, Jalen Ramsey, and Darius Slay.
Surprisingly, Minnesota didn't make much of an effort to re-sign Shelley earlier this offseason, and he ended up landing a one-year deal with the Raiders. Hopefully, it's a decision that the Vikings don't end up regretting during the 2023 season.