As the 2023 NFL campaign approaches, the Raiders enter a “turning point” season for the organization. It could be tough sailing this year, but not if some of these bold predictions come to fruition.
Raiders Underwent Cosmetic Facelift This Offseason
The front office put fans through the wringer this offseason as the franchise parted ways with quarterback Derek Carr, bringing a nine-year partnership to an unceremonious end. The changes kept rolling in when Darren Waller, Denzel Perryman, and Rock Ya-Sin left the roster in varying ways.
General manager Dave Ziegler dipped into the Patriot pool several times in free agency, with the likes of Jimmy Garoppolo, Jakobi Meyers, and Brian Hoyer finding their way to Sin City. A clear message — with a thick Boston accent — had been sent to Raider Nation.
The front office continued its momentum by hitting a home run at the 2023 NFL Draft. Multiple instant-impact players were taken throughout the three-day event, led by first-round pick Tyree Wilson. The depth of the class, along with the familiar faces in free agency, give head coach Josh McDaniels “his guys”.
Now, with a roster essentially handpicked by Ziegler and McDaniels, the duo must prove its vision is justified. That sticking a knife in the back of a franchise icon was worthwhile. That all the faith placed in the organization is not unfounded. The 2023 season is the defining point of the next half-decade of football in Vegas.
5 Bold Predictions For The Las Vegas Raiders In 2023
Regardless of how you feel about the Raiders entering the new NFL campaign, there are still a handful of positives to fall back on. Here are five bold predictions for the upcoming year, including a record-breaking performance by the team’s premier defender. Without further ado, let’s get the ball rolling!
No. 1: Maxx Crosby Becomes Single-Season Leader In Sacks For Raiders
The Raiders locked Maxx Crosby into a long-term deal before the 2022 season, and the superstar pass rusher made good on their investment by logging 12.5 sacks. In 2023, the Eastern Michigan alum is poised to take another step, this time resulting in the most sacks by a player in franchise history.
Bold Prediction: Crosby Etches His Name In History
Derrick Burgess is the man to beat, as the former Raider stands above the rest with his 16-sack performance in 2005. Sean Jones and Khalil Mack each reached 15 sacks once, but those are the only three names to ever achieve such a mind-blowing number; opportunity and an extra game help Crosby’s case.
No. 2: Michael Mayer Solidifies Himself As The No. 2 Option In Passing Game
It’s not often that rookie tight ends make instant impacts in year one. Michael Mayer is an exception. The former Notre Dame standout was the best player at his position in the 2023 NFL Draft, providing the Raiders with immense value on day two. Now, with Darren Waller off to New York — Mayer has a direct line to a huge target share.
Mayer Becomes An Outlier For Raiders
Josh McDaniels loves utilizing the tight end position, both as a blocker and pass catcher. Mayer is an all-around force, giving Vegas a true three-down player with All-Pro potential early in his career. Only four tight ends have ever eclipsed the 60-catch mark as rookies; Mayer will add his name to the list.
No. 3: Jimmy Garoppolo Stays Healthy
I know, I know. Predicting Jimmy Garoppolo to stay on the field for 17 games is probably as crazy as predicting the Raiders to win the Super Bowl in 2023. Still, McDaniels will take care of his quarterback by designing quick hitters in the passing game and allowing the run game to do most of the heavy lifting.
Garoppolo Staying Healthy Is Epitome Of “Bold” Prediction
Garoppolo has only started a full-slate one time in his career, which came in 2019 and resulted in a pristine 13-3 record, along with a trip to that season’s Super Bowl. The Niners even held a ten-point fourth-quarter lead in the game. Hey, maybe there is something to these crazy thoughts.
No. 4: Josh Jacobs Doesn’t Suit Up For Raiders Again
Vegas slapped the franchise tag on its uber-talented running back this offseason with the goal of reaching an agreement on an extension. Those talks have been dead in the water for the past few months, and there is no end in sight. A trade may not be the most realistic option for either side, but another possibility exists.
Jacobs Follows Le’Veon Bell’s Footsteps
Like Le’Veon Bell in the 2018 season, Josh Jacobs could refuse to play under the franchise tag. Bell received pushback for his decision to sit out after failing to reach a deal with the Steelers, but it turned out just fine for the former All-Pro as he signed a $52.5 million deal the following offseason.
One could argue Jacobs has more to lose than gain by playing on the one-year deal, so this prediction may not be as bold as it seems on the surface. Only time will tell.
No. 5: Patrick Graham’s Defense Will Be Respectable
Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones form a fearsome pass-rushing attack in Vegas. Add in Tyree Wilson, Byron Young, and Nesta Jade Silvera and the front line is dripping with potential.
I see the secondary as more of a mixed bag, but Tre’von Moehrig, Christopher Smith, and Jakorian Bennett all possess high-end traits. If a few veterans like Marcus Epps, Duke Shelley, and Brandon Facyson can chip in — it could be the difference.
Vegas Stays Afloat On Defense In Final Prediction
Linebackers are a harder sell, as Divine Deablo is holding the unit together by a thread. He performed well in 2022, and the coaching staff has heaped praise at his feet this offseason. Perhaps the former Virginia Tech Hokie can shoulder the load. All in all, the defense should be better compared to year one of the Graham era.
*Top Photo: Michael Hickey/Getty Images