Despite heavy expectations, here are three players who could be underwhelming this season for the Raiders.
The Oakland Raiders will likely fulfill expectations on their way to a deep playoff run and even make it to the Super Bowl. However, some of the players might not play up to their potential and leave us hanging and wanting more.
Here are the three Raiders players that could underperform.
Donald Penn, OT
Penn has been nothing but a stabilizing presence at the left tackle position. He just gave up one sack last season (albeit a costly one); he has also graded as the fourth-best run-blocking tackle by Pro Football Focus. He would be the perfect player this upcoming season if he were 23 years old.
Alas, he’ll be 34 years old when the season starts and even though it has been said that he still has two or three good years in him, father time collects out of nowhere and a drop off production wise can suddenly happen from one season to another.
Reggie Nelson, S
Nelson tied the league for interceptions two years ago, which can feel like 20 in the NFL. He’s still performing and getting the most out of his currently diminishing physical skills. Moreover, he’s something of an elder among the defensive backfield as he can mentor the incoming rookies such as Obi Melifonwu come along, rookies that can take away his job. Between the team’s depth at the position and his age, Nelson has a rather small margin for error and can be replaced by one of the many safeties on the waiting.
But what about Raiders WR Amari Cooper?
Cooper was the first Raiders receiver to reach 1,000 yards since Randy Moss did it in 2005. He’s solid, steady and a constant on offense, which will not be enough if the Raiders want to surpass AFC rivals such as the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots. He needs to take the next step if he wants to become a premier wider receiver, which may prove difficult as he has not been able to stay healthy.
Being available is a skill and one that has linger’s Cooper ascension to the NFL elite. A skill that Cooper has not fully displayed yet.