2018 hasn’t been kind to the Silver and Black. And at this point, there isn’t much more to talk about in terms of the 2018 season, expect what went wrong. Jon Gruden and *insert new GM name here* have aligned the Raiders quite well for the future, in terms of draft picks and cap space. The Raiders currently have 12 picks total including 3 in Round One and roughly 80 million in cap space for 2019. A good thing too because there are plenty of holes to be filled before next seasons begins.
Ever since Marshawn Lynch went down the Raiders have been lacking at RB. Doug Martin and Jalen Richard have proved themselves serviceable. However, neither are NFL lead-backs. Doug Martin will be a free agent at age 30. Jalen Richard will be a restricted free agents.
In fact, the only RB’s under contract for next season are Chris Warren and DeAndre Washington, who hasn’t been getting carries even with the deplete backfield. I hardly doubt Lynch will be back especially if the team isn’t playing in Oakland in 2019. Bringing back Martin at 30 seems like a stretch with his age, his size, his limited pass catching ability, and moderate fumbling problem. If Richard returns it will be as a “niche” RB.
The good news is there are always quality running backs available in every round of the NFL draft, the Raiders just need to find one. And of course Le’Veon Bell will be a big money free agent. The Raiders signing Bell would break Raider Nation Twitter…
Good grief, the Raiders need WR’s. Seth Roberts, Marcel Ateman, and an aging Jordy Nelson don’t seem to be striking any fear in opponent defenses. The WR core needs to be overhauled.
Roberts carries a 4.65 million cap hit with no dead money if released for the 2019 season. Jordy Nelson will have a 7.2 million cap hit with no dead money also. Keon Hatcher is the only other WR under contract for next season. Ateman will be an exclusing-rights free agent, because he was cut at the conclusion of the pre-season then signed to the practice squad. Martavis Bryant is a FA also and suspended indefinitely by the NFL. So, the Raiders should draft at least two WR’s in 2019 even if they plan on bringing back Roberts, Ateman, and Nelson.
Jared Cook is having a career season. Gruden has sure taken a liking to him, calling him the team “MVP”. If the Raider resign Cook, the void is filled. All the other tight ends, Carrier, Smith, and Waller, are under contract for 2019. Yet, none of them are every-down starters. Cook will come at a pretty penny but if he continues playing like he has the last two seasons it should be well worth it. If the Raiders don’t commit to Cook, they may have to take one on Day 1 or 2 of the draft.
Offensive Tackle/O-Line Coach
The Raiders rookie tackles have obviously struggled. Kolten Miller has struggled with injuries and Brandon Parker simply wasn’t ready. The plan was never for Parker to start this season but Donald Penn’s injury forced Parker into action. Speaking of Penn, he is under contract for next season and has dead money remaining of his deal, so he should be back for next season.
The Raiders current O-line coach is Tom Cable. Cable’s departure from Seattle is being identified as the reason for the Seahawk’s O-Line turn around. Gruden will be tasked with identifying the source of the Raiders offensive tackle struggles. Was it injuries and inexperience, personnel, or coaching that caused the problems? Needing tackle help after drafting two in the first and third round seems like a mini-disaster.
Hurst is leading the team with 4 sacks, a good number for a rookie DT, not for a team-leader. Fellow rookie PJ Hall has been coming on of late, shaking of his early season injury bug but still looking for his first sack. The Raiders don’t have to draft a pass rushing DT, however they don’t have to pass on Quinnen Williams or Ed Oliver if they fall in love with one of them.
In terms of an edge rusher, they must bring in some more talent. Arden Key has struggled but is still a work in progress. Outside of that there isn’t much left. No wonder the team only has 12 sacks. Demarcus Lawrence, Trey Flowers, Dee Ford, Jadeveon Clowney, Frank Clark, Brandon Graham, Preston Smith, Ziggy Ansah, Shaq Barrett, etc are all slated to hit the open market. The Raiders need to add two pass-rushers, whether via the draft or FA.
The Raiders have lacked a true MLB for as long as my feeble mind can remember. They don’t grow on trees but the Raiders cycle linebackers like they do coaches. Whitehead has been hit and miss this season but has a favorable contract for the Raiders. Morrow and Cabinda are young and show promise. Marquel Lee is good against the run. However, none of these guys have shown they can be the answer in the middle. If the Raiders don’t draft or sign one perhaps they could survive, but with all the draft picks and cap space they should have the opportunity to.
Similarly to LB, this isn’t an immediate and severe need. Gareon Conley has been sensational this year. Daryl Worley has been a respectable number two and is a restricted free agent. Nick Nelson has begun getting his feet wet in the NFL. However, if the Raiders were to bring in another CB could really solidify the unit. There are other needs to address first, though.
There isn’t any point in talking about adding a safety. The Raiders will probably just bring back Reggie Nelson to spite us all.
All jokes aside, this is one of the teams’ biggest needs. Hindsight 20/20, Gruden probably would’ve liked to take Derwin James in the future first round last year. We could second-guess all day.
Anyways, the Raiders need at least one more safety. Maybe two, depending on their opinion of Karl Joseph. There are some quality options in FA including Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix and Landon Collins. And the safety Deionte Thompson from Alabama has been heavily mocked to the Silver and Black.
The Raiders just drafted Johnny Townsend in the fifth round. This has been a spectacular mistake thus far. The Raiders currently rank 32nd in average punt distance and are near the bottom in net average. Spending a draft pick on a punter is bold to begin with and for him to struggle the way he has really makes it look worse. Being a draft pick, Townsend may get a second season. Unfortunately, he sure hasn’t earned it.