Welcome to the Week 13 edition of the Raider Ramble Roundtable, where some of the Ramble’s finest contributors and guests will bring you their thoughts on all the rumblings, rumors, stats, and even fake news.
No guests this week so instead, we’ll start looking forward to the impending offseason and taking stock in coaching performances.
What position would you like to see the Raiders address first in the 2020 Draft?
While I do forsee wide receiver a *true No. 1* heading into April’s draft, the one position that I’ve been harping on is linebacker. I would love to see Oakland address this position of need since … since … Greg Biekert was the dude at the spot. Whether its the Raiders own or the Bears pick, Oakland (or perhaps Las Vegas) the first-round selections likely fall in the teens and it’s a great spot to nab a wide receiver or linebacker prospect.
This is a toss up based on who is available when the Raiders make their 1st selection. The most glaring needs are at receiver and on defense in the front-seven. Ideally, the Raiders will be selecting from the likes of linebacker Isaiah Simmons from Clemson, defensive tackle Derek Brown from Auburn, and have their choice of WRs in the middle of round 1. If a difference maker is available on defense, that is where I would focus and then take a wide receiver later in round 1.
As tempting as it is to say wide receiver or linebacker, I think the Raiders need to grab another big time safety. The safety play for the Raiders has been abysmal and as much as I enjoyed what little film we have on rookie Jonathan Abram, he is not coverage guy. With the rate at which the Raiders give up plays over their heads and down the middle, having a ball hawking safety would change the defensive formula significantly.
Which position do you think is in the best shape from a talent and depth perspective?
The best position group from a talent and depth perspective is at tight end; the Raiders have three solid and capable ones with breakout start Darren Waller pushing for a Pro Bowl this year. Rookie TE Foster Moreau has been very good in a TE2 role and is showing that he can be an in-line blocker as well as a threat in red zone. Derek Carrier is more of a move TE who can line up as an H-back, in-line or in slot. With most teams only carrying three TE’s on their 53 man roster, I would like to think that entire group are fairly safe to all make it to Las Vegas in 2020.
It may not feel like it quite at this moment but the offensive line has three potential pro bowlers and some solid depth. They’ve cooled after a really hot start to begin the season, and they’re all clearly dealing with injuries. However, Trent Brown, Rodney Hudson, and Richie Incognito form an insanely talented backbone as youngster Kolton Miller comes along and Gabe Jackson tries to get healthy. Moving forward, the Raiders could add depth, but there won’t likely be any new starters for as long as Incognito sticks. Everyone else is locked in to multi year contracts.
Tight end has the best talent and depth at the moment. Starter Darren Waller is producing like the tight end he replaced and Foster Moreau is showing he’s a better receiver than advertised at LSU. He was a blocker there and while his blocking chops are NFL standard, it’s his route running and soft hands that help make him a well-rounded second option at the position. Add in veteran Derek Carrier and it’s a group that can block, run routes and catch the rock.
Which assistant coach has done the best job thus far?
I was tempted to go with coach Singleton because Josh Jacobs has been killing it. However, I once again have to tip my cap to Tom Cable and the offensive line. They have not used injuries as an excuse and there have been more games where the line has been an objective strength than any where they have been subpar. Cable was much maligned entering this season but I think most fans are eating large helpings of crow with a side of salt.
Coach Buck don’t give a f… you get the point. It’s defensive line boss Bretson Buckner. His straight-shooter approach allows him to get to the point with this defensive lineman and he’s gotten good output. The Raiders once-smothering run defense is led by the defensive line and rookie Maxx Crosby added a much-needed shot of adrenaline to the pass rush.
While most Raider fans will probably lean to defensive line coach Brentson Buckner, I’m going to say tight ends coach Frank Smith. Look at the development of Darren Waller and Foster Moreau. Without the production of those two players, where would this Raiders offense be? Waller has been developing as a blocker which is encouraging given his collegiate background as a wide receiver. Moreau was seen as more of a blocking tight end coming out of LSU but has shown solid receiving skills and has been reliable red zone target.
Is there one roster or coaching change that the raiders should make during the final quarter of the season?
Have a true speedster take over as the primary kick returner. Jalen Richard can give you juice as the punt returner, but I’d like to see a burner like Rico Gafford take over the kick return gig. He’s not the biggest kid on the block and it’s that coupled with his 4.26 40-yard dash timed speed which could give the Raiders much-needed life in the return game.
I could see the Raiders making some roster moves with an eye towards 2020 in Las Vegas during the final month of this season. They could lock up a couple of key pending free agents such as Daryl Worley, Benson Mayowa, or Dion Jordan. In terms of coaching change, I don’t see any upcoming over the next four weeks but wouldn’t be surprised to see Jon Gruden add his brother Jay Gruden to his coaching staff in January as an offensive consultant.
This isn’t going to happen but I would like to see the Raiders move on from Paul Guenther. I recognize that the cupboard is pretty bare for him, but I also haven’t seen much in terms of the development of younger players. If anything it sometimes feels like they’re taking steps back (looking at you PJ Hall). In the end Guenther probably makes it to Las Vegas, even if I don’t think he should.
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