It’s never to early to get excited for the NFL Season! The NFL Draft has just wrapped up, and now we are just gearing up for summer workouts to start and maybe some big free agent splashes and trades. For the Oakland Raiders, they likely want to forget their 2018-2019 season, as they were the fourth worst team in the NFL, in a clear rebuild year that saw them trade away Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper. There were talks of Derek Carr being traded, and the whole Raiders front office cleaning house around Jon Gruden.
Fast forward to today, and the Raiders staff is intact, and Carr remains the man behind center, as the Raiders elected to pass on a rookie quarterback in the draft. Fast forward to today, and what all have the Raiders done this off-season? The first big splash was trading for Antonio Brown for just a third and fifth round pick, giving Carr a top 5 wideout in the NFL. In that same day, the Raiders also signed former Chargers wideout Tyrell Williams to a long term contract. Keeping with the standard of surrounding Carr with talent, the Raiders signed LT Trent Brown, who started all 16 games last year for the Patriots and was instrumental in protecting Tom Brady. To cap off their veteran additions, they added Lamarcus Joyner, who was playing under the franchise tag this past year in LA, and was instrumental in the Rams Superbowl run.
Four key veteran additions started their moves, which led to their nine selections in this years NFL Draft. Despite talks of trading back, the Raiders kept all three of their first round selections and used them efficiently with the selections of pass rusher Clelin Ferrell, running back Josh Jacobs, and safety Johnathan Abram. Ferrell instantly slots in as the edge opposite of Arden Key, and Jacobs will start as the main workhorse back, but could be spelled early on for Isaiah Crowell. Abram will sit behind the aforementioned Joyner, but will see snaps as a rotation player.
Trayvon Mullen, taken in the second round, likely slots in as the backup outside corner, and fifth round pick Hunter Renfrow has a great shot to start the season as the #1 slot receiver. Late selections Quinton Bell and Maxx Crosby have shots to compete for spots this offseason. The biggest addition seemed to come after the draft, as the Raiders quickly signed linebacker Te’Von Coney, who had early round grades on him. Read about that here.
Jon Gruden has wasted no time, or spared no expense, in rebuilding his team, taking them from dumpster fire, to potential contender. Here’s how their offense projects to start as I see it now.
QB: Derek Carr
RB: Josh Jacobs
WR: Antonio Brown
WR: Tyrell Williams
WR: Hunter Renfrow
TE: Lee Smith/Derek Carrier
LT: Trent Brown
LG: Denzelle Good
C: Rodney Hudson
RG: Gabe Jackson
RT: Kolton Miller
Looking at that lineup, there isn’t a whole lot if improvement needed, as the line up front should keep Carr on his feet, as he doesn’t want to relive his 51 sack season last year. Brown and Williams should stretch the field, keeping the opposing defenses on their toes, opening up the running game for Jacobs. Carr has a plethora of options this season, giving Gruden and offensive coordinator Greg Olson plenty of ways to take the offensive scheme.
Switching to the defense, here’s how the Raiders will take the field week one given my assessment
RDE: Clelin Ferrell
RDT: Mo Jurst
LDT: Johnathan Hankins
LDE: Arden Key
SLB: Brandon Marshall
MLB: Te’Von Coney
WLB: Vontaze Burfict
LCB: Gareon Conley
RCB: Trayvon Mullen
SCB: Nevin Lawson
FS: Lamarcus Joyner
SS: Karl Joseph
The defense looks primed for a great year. Ferrell and Key should be devastating to opposing offenses, and a physical linebacker core makes for a tremendous front seven. Joyner and Joseph leading the secondary with Nevin Lawson gives the Raiders all kinds of speed and coverage skills.
The Raiders are much improved, and pay attention to this team in OTA’s; unless injuries befall the team, they look primed to challenge to win the AFC West
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