With the 2023 NFL Draft in our rear-view mirror and minicamps in the not-so-distant future, the Las Vegas Raiders still have a few burning roster questions to answer. If this offseason feels eerily similar to the introduction of general manager Dave Ziegler and head coach Josh McDaniels, that’s because it is – one could argue the Silver and Black are entering the 2023 season with the very same holes they did in their 2022 campaign.
Fortunately for Ziegler and McDaniels, there’s still talent available on the open market that could solve some of these plaguing issues.
Raiders need more production from the defensive front
Las Vegas spent both early and late draft capital in hopes of improving their lackluster defensive line.
While first-rounder Tyree Wilson can pay immediate dividends on the edge, third-round selection Byron “No, The Other Byron” Young could end up lost in the shuffle with the rest of the young, unproven interior defenders the Raiders employ. The issue here isn’t a lack of resources allocated to the position. Instead, it’s more the redundancy of the players acquired. The Silver and Black continue to bank on coaching up the talent in-house. That’s opposed to bringing in veterans with proven experience to help the youth navigate. This could also be said for the overall lack of pass-rushing depth on the roster.
Names such as Chris Wormley, Dawuane Smoot, Shelby Harris and Kyle Van Noy remain unsigned. So, the Raiders could land a few proven producers at a decent value before camp begins.
Lack of depth at linebacker is a major concern
Last season, the Raiders were forced to weather numerous blows to a thin linebacker room. Dave Ziegler hasn’t done much to prep for a different outcome.
Not only will they enter this season without their most proven player at the position – Denzel Perryman, who signed with Houston – but the rest of the group still leaves little room for injury or error. Divine Deablo has yet to remain healthy for an entire campaign in his short NFL career. Backups Curtis Bolton, Darien Butler and Luke Masterson are likely better suited as special teams options. Free agent acquisition Robert Spillane will have a tough task ahead of him as he attempts to buoy arguably the biggest problem for the Raiders’ franchise over the last 20 years.
While a name like Kwon Alexander wouldn’t cure those woes entirely, it couldn’t hurt to bring him in. The veteran could eat some snaps as the season wears on.
Raiders still need a true playmaker at cornerback
Cornerback is another example of numerous resources being contributed, but the impact being very minimal. Simply put, the Raiders don’t have any guys in the secondary that can go make a game-changing play. The current roster is littered with names that are either adequate number twos or project to become adequate number twos. They lack a true alpha dog to anchor them and turn the tide at that crucial moment.
There is one name left on the market that has fit this mold in past years. While he may not be the lockdown corner, he was a few seasons ago, he would far-and-away raise the floor of this current unit. Come on down, Marcus Peters.
In case it wasn’t obvious – if the Raiders have any hope of making real noise this season, it will be on the back of a vastly improved performance from their defense. Jimmy Garoppolo‘s career “success” has always been kept afloat by top-10 units on the other side of the ball. Let’s hope Dave Ziegler and Co. took note of this.
*Top Photo: Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal