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Don’t Look Now, ESPN Lacks Faith In The Las Vegas Raiders’ Roster

ESPN is always here for the controversy. This sport’s monolith has released a ranking list of all 32 NFL rosters, from best to worst. While few will argue about a team like the San Francisco 49ers taking the top spot or the New York Giants anchoring the exercise, fans of franchises like the Las Vegas Raiders may have some gripes.

The analytic trio of Mike Clay, Aaron Schatz, and Seth Walder used a metric based on age, production, and talent to place Las Vegas at 26th in all of football. Clay praised a versatile defensive line while also questioning the oft-maligned quarterback room (pretend to be shocked, guys). Walder would call the cornerbacks the X-factor of the season when the defensive backs in question helped anchor a defense that finished as a top-10 unit in football last season.

With that being said, we aren’t here to add makeup to the warts of the Vegas roster. Nevertheless, placing them 26th in the league seems a bit off. This is especially true when you consider some of the higher-ranked teams. How about we examine those “better” rosters than the Raiders?

The Raiders came in 26th overall, according to ESPN…

25. Tennessee Titans

The Tennessee Titans were directly ahead of the Raiders. If this list is based on age, production, and experience, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an overwhelming amount of evidence as to why Las Vegas is trailing the Brian Callahan-coached club. Sure, with Calvin Ridley and Tyler Boyd, you can give a slight edge at the wide receiver position.

The Cowboys’ Tony Pollard might outperform Zamir White; maybe the Colts have the advantage there. Also, adding cornerback L’Jarius Sneed is nothing to sneeze at.

That being said, the perceived gap at QB between the two rosters could be the difference.

Even though second-year man Will Levis has the necessary skills and looks the part, the Mayor of Mayo Country lost to his less attractive rival last season. Levis would go 3-6 in his nine starts in 2023 with 1,808 yards, eight touchdowns, and four interceptions. Aidan O’Connell would start two more games but finish 5-5 with 2,218 yards, 12 touchdowns, and seven interceptions of his own.

But hey, maybe I’m nitpicking. Let’s move on…

21. Indianapolis Colts

You won’t find many people who are higher on quarterback Anthony Richardson’s potential than this writer. Still, the rest of the Colts offense is as “on-paper” as many accuse the Raiders to be. No one will question running back Jonathan Taylor’s skills, but can he remain healthy? Outside of Michael Pittman Jr., the pass catchers in Indianapolis are purely theoretical in terms of real production, and their offensive line has seen a decline from its once dominant form.

When it comes to defense, the addition of Christian Wilkins in Vegas helps destroy any gap between a team like Indy that has to rely on DeForest Buckner to cause any and all havoc.

Plus, the Colts secondary makes me thank God for the talent the Raiders currently have in the building.

But wait, there’s more!

19. Atlanta Falcons

…Wut?

I know I’ll be able to run up the score in Madden with the Dirty Birds, but being ranked seven spots above the Raiders feels like a bit of a reach. Kirk Cousins is the opposite of a spring chicken returning from an Achilles injury. Bijan Robinson, Drake London, and Kyle Pitts could host a Miami Heatles-esque press conference to celebrate their potential, but the results are far less impressive.

The offensive line is admittedly stout, but when it comes to defenses, things are much more of a coin flip. Jessie Bates III and AJ Terrell lead a quality secondary, but their front seven can’t compete with Maxx Crosby and the Raiders.

This brings me to perhaps the most hilarious part of the ESPN piece…

Do the Bears have a better roster than the Raiders?

17. Chicago Bears

Caleb Williams has yet to throw a pass in the Windy City, and he’s already accrued an ESPN highlight. The Bears surrounded the USC alum with an impressive receiver room, but the offensive line is still a glaring question mark. As is the ability of running back DeAndre Swift to be a consistent game changer on a weekly basis. And let us not forget how spotty the once-vaunted Monsters of the Midway have become. Montez Sweat will be doing his best impression of Khalil Mack in 2014, rushing the quarterback with little to no help.

Linebackers T.J. Edwards and Tremaine Edmunds are undeniable, as is cornerback Jaylon Johnson. How far must those three go to cover for the secondary? Kevin Byard III just went from a major coup for the Eagles to a Rocky V-level regret for Howie Roseman.

The Raiders may not be world-beaters, but all hype isn’t good hype. AP, please load up that bulletin board.

*Top Photo: Getty Images

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