Power Ranking The Current Raiders Roster; No Jimmy Garoppolo In The Top 10?!

No Jimmy Garoppolo?! Power Ranking The Best Current Raiders (6-10)

We’re so close to real football that Raider fans can smell the unnecessary flags upon the perfectly manicured Allegiant Stadium grass. This current portion of the preseason is when random pundits call the Silver and Black a dark horse playoff contender due to their standout talent on both sides of the ball. Can Jimmy Garoppolo move the needle enough to find success in Vegas?

That talent on paper is worth getting excited about, but time will soon show these games are not played on paper. Sneaking out of the stacked AFC West won’t be a small feat, but if you believe some analysts, the team has the players in positions of need to make it happen. Right? We’ll see about that, but it is hard to deny how talented the roster is up top. 

A few factors came into play while selecting the best players on the Raiders roster. Where do they rank amongst their positional peers? How important are they to the team’s success in the upcoming season? And, of course, if a team could jettison their current starter for said player, would they do it?

So, without further ado, let’s get things started with a spicy take.

Honorable Mentions

 Jimmy Garoppolo, QB

The block is already hot, folks.

Jimmy Garoppolo’s importance to the Las Vegas Raiders hinges on head coach Josh McDaniels’ faith in his own system. Even though the scheme only truly worked with one recently retired Hall of Fame quarterback. Several ancillary pieces are missing to make this a roster that can thrive with Garoppolo under center.

Despite what some hope and believe, giving Adult Star Jim-Bob the keys in place of the Choir Captain Derek Carr lowered the ceiling on this roster. Garoppolo has had the luxury of countless All-Pro-laden defenses and a savant coaching staff. He will find neither in Las Vegas.

The value of Garoppolo around the league can also be called into question. Many would say the San Francisco 49ers are merely a quarterback away from being a true Super Bowl contender. That’s the same 49ers that decided to ship out a haul of draft picks to trade up for a raw-beyond-belief Trey Lance.

The very same Niners that now turn to UDFA wunderkind Brock Purdy to lead them to the promised land. Quarterback-whisperer Kyle Shanahan was so anxious to be rid of Jimmy G; this past off-season was already the second time he bid him farewell.

What Is The True Value Of Garoppolo?

So ask yourself, if a perennial contender with great coaching and top-notch leadership decided they’d rather win without Garoppolo, what makes you think the Raiders are the missing link? Can you name any other team that would give him the starting job over their current starter? Elite teams wouldn’t blink if they thought Jimmy G could help them get over the hump.

Not only can Garoppolo not be trusted to remain healthy for an entire season, but his play doesn’t warrant the confidence. That is unless you coached him in New England. Remember, the type of “no-look” pass Jimmy G specializes in didn’t win the Niners a Super Bowl; it cost them one. I say all that to say it is not difficult to name ten better players on the current Raiders roster.

Jakobi Meyers, WR

Now, back to where things got tough. Jakobi Meyers was signed to a sizable contract by the Raiders this offseason, hoping to form a top-tier tandem with Davante Adams. The former Patriot may struggle to live up to that deal, but he has the traits to be a difference-maker.

Meyers has never played with anyone as talented as Adams or Hunter Renfrow, for that matter. The matchups will be much easier, but that is always the case when you’re opposite the best in the game.

Ask Mack Hollins.

Meyers only misses the cut due to lacking a 1,000-yard season in his career. He’s never been a true No. 1 option, and in this offense, he merely needs to take advantage of open space to succeed. Is he a top-30 target in the league today? I’m not so sure. But he’s close.

A Punter Kicks Off Our Top-10 Raiders Power Ranking

10. A.J. Cole, P

A.J. Cole is one of the best in all of football at his position. A first-team All-Pro in 2021, Cole would follow that up with top-five finishes in yards per punt (48.9) and net yards per punt (43.9) in 2022. On top of that, Cole only kicked one touchback last season, tied for the lowest mark in the league by anyone with at least 15 attempts. The five-year veteran also ranked seventh in punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, landing there 44.1 percent of the time.

When it comes to concerns about this roster, you never have to worry about the kicking battery. Cole is — at times — the Raiders’ best line of defense. He forces opposing offenses into long drives by pinning them back in their own territory. That’s a value plenty of teams would love to rely upon. So why not rank Cole higher?

We can only put so much respect on a punter’s name.

9. Marcus Epps, S

Marcus Epps is a tale of two stat lines. When it comes to stopping the run, very few are better. PFF graded Epps as the eighth-best safety against the ground game in 2022. However, in the words of the illustrious Neil McCauley, there’s a flip side to that coin. Epps graded out at 44.7 against the pass, allowing a passer rating of 141.2.

Fortunately for the fourth-year pro, the Raiders didn’t sign him for the latter. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham missed a box safety on the level of Epps last season, forcing center-fielder Tre’von Moehrig to play out of position. The 2023 campaign will be a totally different story. 

The Wyoming alum proved his worth for the Super Bowl participant Eagles last season, and now he has a perfect running mate in Moehrig to patrol the deep end behind him. Epps should be immensely valuable to the Raider defense this season.

8. Nate Hobbs, CB

The ebbs and flows of Nate Hobbs’ young career almost parallel that of the Raiders themselves. Hobbs did his best to boost a pedestrian Las Vegas secondary while logging snaps in multiple spots. In 2022, the Illinois alum put up a disappointing season, matching the regression of the entire unit.

Despite a rocky, injury-plagued year, PFF still named Hobbs the 28th-best cornerback in football entering the 2023 season. This praise came after posting a grade of 80.1 last year and allowing just one touchdown pass. It goes without saying how important the defense will be to the Raiders if they plan to beat the odds, and Nate Hobbs being healthy is as crucial as it gets to that initiative. But not as important as the next entry.

7. Marcus Peters, CB

Burn it. Take the bad film and the poor play post-ACL injury. Take all of it and burn it. Marcus Peters is important to these Raiders for more than just past stat lines.

The soon-to-be 30-year-old is in the back half of a career that once saw him grab 12 interceptions in a two-season span. Unfortunately, the 2022 season was not as kind to the former Washington Husky, as he would finish the slate with just a single interception and a 69.5 coverage grade per PFF.

But as I said, throw all that out. Peters’ impact in the Raiders secondary will be immense. He may not be the ballhawk he once was, but even an aging Peters can show this young Vegas secondary how to play with confidence and a nose for the football.

Raider defenses tend to be allergic to turnovers. Last season saw them pick off a poultry six passes. If training camp and joint practices are any indication, the signing of the Oakland native has already been a bit of a remedy for the cornerback room.

6. Hunter Renfrow, WR

The 2023 campaign will be the Slot Machine‘s comeback season. Don’t let an injury-marred 2022 fool you because Hunter Renfrow is still a top-24 receiver in the NFL. When last seen healthy, the Clemson alum posted a 100-catch, 1,000-yard year as the top option on the outside for most of the season.

Derek Carr formed a fast bond with Renfrow, one that should be duplicated alongside Jimmy G. Garoppolo excels in all the areas the pass catcher gets open in. The signing of Jakobi Meyers allows even more free releases in the slot for one of the best route runners in the game. Third & Renfrow is so back, baby.

*Top Photo: AP Photo/Alex Gallardo

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