The Raider Ramble brings you a comprehensive look at the Las Vegas Raiders offseason, which is broken down in three phases, one is a look at the team as it stands, what they could do in free agency and third, what the Silver and Black should do at the draft in April.
General manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden started the offseason by adding Rod Marinelli to the coaching staff, a move that didn’t please Raider Nation because it meant letting defensive line coach Brentson Buckner go. The extensions handed to Richie Incognito and Nevin Lawson, have also kick started the Raiders vital offseason.
There are three major phases to the offseason process; taking care of their own guys, free agency, and the draft. The Raiders need to be successful in all three to build on their 2019 record of 7-9.
Here’s what I would do to catapult them to playoff contention.
(All contracts are projections)
Related: The Raiders could learn a couple things from Super Bowl teams
Phase 1, Current Team
- If the Raiders decide to release Tahir Whitehead, they would save $6.25 million with $1 million in dead money. The linebacker is a tackling machine, but he can’t cover a nickel with a blanket.
- By releasing Gabe Jackson, Las Vegas can save $9.6 million, with no cap penalties. Some people don’t like this move, but the guard is overpaid, and was outplayed by Denzelle Good in 2019.
- The Raiders should give Will Compton a 2-year deal, worth $5.25 million with $2 million guaranteed. The veteran provides good depth, and was arguably the team’s best linebacker in the second half of the season.
- Las Vegas need to offer Dion Jordan a 2-year, $7.5 million contract with $3 million guaranteed. The defensive end came in late like Compton, and provided valuable pass rush for the Raiders. I’d re-sign Jordan and let him compete for pass rush snaps.
- They can also give Jalen Richard a 3-year, $9 million contract with $3.5 guaranteed. Richard is a great 3rd down back and I feel like the Raiders have underutilized. Extend him, and sign a backup for Jacobs.
Phase 2 Free Agency (Projected Cap 54.6 Mil)
- The Raiders sign linebacker Corey Littleton to a 4-year, $52 million deal with $33.5 million guaranteed. It seems steep, but the veteran is a three down backer and is only 26 years old. They will have to, and should overpay to lure him away from other linebacker needy teams.
- Las Vegas offer cornerback Darqueze Denard a 3-year, $18 million with $10 million guaranteed. There are top flight corners available, but I don’t think the Raiders double dip in the $15 million range free agent pool. Denard is solid and earned a 73.7 grade on PFF last year. He hasn’t lived up to his first round draft stock, but he is familiar with coach Paul Guenther and would come in as the Raiders CB2 or CB3.
- Maliek Collins should be given a 3-years, $12 million with $7 million guaranteed. The defensive tackle is familiar with new defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, and was one of his favorite players. Collins rated 13th in total pressures by tackles in 2019, and can offer depth at the position behind Hankins and Hurst.
Phase 3 Draft Season
The Raiders should draft:
- 1st round (pick 12)- WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma- I originally didn’t see CeeDee Lamb falling to the Raiders here. However, things have changed. I see Thomas, Wills, Herbert, Burrow, Young, Okudah, Brown, and Jeudy all going in the top 10. Lamb slipping to 12 is ideal for the Silver and Black; they get a #1 wide receiver that should instantly help Derek Carr or Tom Brady in 2020.
- 1st round (pick 19)- DB Xavier McKinney, Alabama- In my original mock, I had Javon Kinlaw here, but I don’t think he falls to 19. Therefore, the Raiders take a safety. With Abrams and Mckinney deep, Las Vegas will be set for years to come in the defensive backfield. McKinney was awesome at Alabama, has a nose for the ball and can play all over the secondary.
- 3rd round (pick 80)- RB Eno Benjamin, Arizona State- The Raiders need someone to help spell Josh Jacobs. Benjamin is a guy that can produce in the NFL, with a few guys ranked ahead of him, pick 80 seems like fair value here.
- 3rd round (pick 81)- WR KJ Hill, Ohio State- The Las Vegas had one of the worst wide receiver corps in 2019, so double dipping at the position makes sense. Hill, like Benjamin, may climb up draft boards, but for now, I have him slotted as a third round steal. The wide out has great feet, and is a good route runner, which should intrigue Gruden.
- 3rd Round (pick 91)- DE Alex Highsmith, Charlotte- This is a big need for the Raiders, but with Crosby and Ferrell already on the Roster, they don’t need to grab anybody early. Highsmith has great potential, but went to a smaller football school, so he becomes a late third. Similar to Crosby, I think Las Vegas get a player that can come in and win with his motor.
- 4th Round (Pick 111)- QB Anthony Gordon, Washington State- Gordon is a project at the NFL level, hence the draft slot. However, the Raiders desperately need a young backup for Carr or Brady in 2020.
Be sure to check out more draft content at NFL Draft Addicts, they bring you up-to-date content during mock season.
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