The NFL preseason is fully underway, and the regular season is just a few weeks away. The Las Vegas Raiders come into the season with high expectations with the additions of wide receiver Davante Adams and edge rusher Chandler Jones. Anytime you have a successful season, you need players that will exceed expectations.
Who will exceed expectations for the Las Vegas Raiders in 2022?
Let’s start with the offensive line as a whole…
The offensive line struggled last season; Derek Carr was sacked 40 times. Kolton Miller was the only reliable offensive lineman last year. Alex Leatherwood struggled at right tackle and was moved to right guard, which didn’t help all that much.
Hopefully, the Raiders can get better production from the O-line with new coaches. Josh McDaniels worked with some below-average offensive lines in New England with the Patriots. The Raiders will use quick passes and the running game to help mitigate some of the issues with the unit. With all the talent the Raiders have at the skill positions, it would be a travesty if the line held the team back.
With the additions of Adams, Darren Waller, and Hunter Renfrow, Carr should have an outstanding season. He threw for 4,804 yards and 23 touchdowns last season while completing 68.4 percent of his passes. Carr should exceed those numbers this season.
With a new head coach running the offense, he should be able to take Carr to new levels. Expect Carr to throw for close to 5,000 yards and between 35 and 40 touchdowns. It should be a fun season for Carr and the Raiders offense.
Divine Deablo switched to linebacker last season and is now starting to feel comfortable. Last year, he played 17 games and started five; he posted 45 tackles and had a Pro Football Focus grade of 63.2. Deablo ranked fourth in run defense grade according to PFF and second in missed tackle percentage among rookie linebackers in 2021.
In the new Raiders’ defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s system, Deablo could thrive at the linebacker position. The Raiders’ linebacker/safety hybrid is good against the run, so keep an eye on him.
Nate Hobbs had a fantastic rookie season as the Raiders’ slot corner. He posted 74 tackles, one interception, and three passes defended. Hobbs’s PFF grade was 79.1. He was good in coverage and outstanding against the run.
In Raiders training camp, Hobbs has been playing the outside cornerback position and has been covering Adams regularly. However, it looks like the Raiders may want Hobbs to follow the best receiver around, and if that’s the case, Hobbs will have more chances to make plays. In this case, iron sharpens iron, and Hobbs will reap the benefits.
Josh Jacobs rushed for 872 rushing yards and nine touchdowns last season. In the final three games of the regular season, Jacobs ran for 324 yards and two touchdowns. His efforts helped lead the Raiders into the playoffs.
With all the receiving talent the Raiders have, opposing teams will focus on stopping the pass, which should open up running lanes for Jacobs. Hopefully, the O-line will play much better, or at least consistently enough to help keep Jacobs healthy all season.
*Top Photo: Scott Winters/Icon Sports Wire via Getty Images