Superlative season is in full effect. As NFL fans eagerly await the season to start, optimism is running rampant. This feels compounded this season since COVID-19 has forced the league to eliminate the preseason. Still, it doesn’t stop the usual reports from coming out.
Every player is in the best shape of their life, and every rookie has the potential to win Rookie of the Year. Each last-place team has a true shot for the playoffs. However, it is still possible to sift through the fluff and find some information that allows for some bold, yet realistic predictions. Here are five Raiders bold predictions for 2020.
Las Vegas Raiders: Five Bold Predictions for the Team in 2020
Edwards Leads all Rookies in Catches and Yards
This one is somehow the least-bold of all predictions, which sounds weird at first, considering Bryan Edwards was a third-round receiver. Weirder yet, he wasn’t even the first wide receiver the team took. Henry Ruggs III was Las Vegas’ first-round pick, and the first wide receiver taken by any team in the NFL draft. Still, Edwards has been getting a huge amount of buzz on how polished he is at training camp so far.
When Derek Carr was asked about his rookies in a recent interview about his rookie receivers, he couldn’t stop talking about Edwards. He touts his catch radius, route running, and willingness to take criticism. It was also at least the second time he compared him to his former Fresno State teammate, and current top receiver in the league, Davante Adams.
Not to take anything away from Ruggs as a first-round pick, but it looks like the Raiders are doing all they can to get Edwards on the field. Tyrell Williams has the starting position as default by being the veteran. Most believed Ruggs would get the opposite outside receiving spot, with Hunter Renfrow in the slot. However, the talk is that Ruggs will begin the year in the slot, and Edwards likely takes the other outside spot.
After playing four years in the NCAA, it really shouldn’t be a surprise that Edwards comes in as arguably the most polished wide receiver in the draft. But the biggest surprise will be when he not only leads the Raiders but also the NFL in both yards and catches by a rookie wide receiver.
Las Vegas Raiders will field a top-ten defense
The Raiders Achilles heel for years has been their defense. They have been playing without a real leader at its core to keep everyone on track. Last year, Vontaze Burfict was going to fill that role. However, the league suspended him for the rest of the year after a questionable hit on Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle. Even when Burfict was on the field, the defense wasn’t great. Nevertheless, all of the top ten performances in terms of yards allowed were during the four-game span that Burfict played.
Finally, Las Vegas made it a priority to revamp the linebacker room, signing both Nick Kwiatkoski and Cory Littleton. Two more rookies, Tanner Muse, and the undrafted Javin White will also try to provide depth to a group that has been amongst the thinnest in the league for years.
In terms of the secondary, 2019’s first-round pick Jonathan Abram looked promising in the one game he played last year. Nonetheless, a shoulder injury sidelined him after that. Trayvon Mullen started to flash as a rookie late in the year as one corner. He will be joined by rookie Damon Arnette.
The defensive line was already the lone bright spot of 2019. Maxx Crosby was the surprise star as Clelin Ferrell took a little longer to get acclimated to the game. However, talk has been great around Ferrell’s year two development. Depth won’t be an issue with the interior line. Maliek Collins, Johnathan Hankins, and Maurice Hurst are all able to make some noise.
This defense has talent across the board for the first time in forever. With it, they will demand respect across the league during their first year in Sin City.
Here we go! Now the predictions are ramping up starting with the next one on the next page!