The Oakland Raiders have finished a season that didn’t conclude with a trip to the playoffs, but it was a season of sizable improvement nonetheless. The Raider team as a squad was much better than anyone have witnessed in quite some time. There is no doubt that the Raiders are a team n the right direction and will be a cempetitive force seasons. However, there are still some gapping holes on this roster that must be addressed.
And in the minds of many, the biggest divide the Raiders need to address is quite possibly the offensive line. At least, it is according to self proclaime industry experts as well as the many folks who jumped on that band wagon quickly after the saeson ended.
The fact is the Raiders could use some upgrades along the line. Donald Penn – assuming the team does the smart thing and re-signs him – and Gabe Jackson have one side of the line nailed down tight. And Rodney Hudson is a solid anchor in the middle. Most believe that it’s on that other side of the line – the J’Marcus Webb andAustin Howard side of the line – that could stand to be upgraded a bit.
but in the interst of wht is best or a top priority….
Upgrading that side of the line should not be the biggest concern this offseason. And certainly not enough to warrant using a first round pick to do it. The Oakland Raiders should take an extensive peek around the free agent market if they see upgrading their right side of the line as imperitive. There are plenty of players to be had with tlent that couod fill thge holes in the offensive line – and more importantly, veteran established players like Russell Okung and Andre Smith perhaps – who are going to be available soon.
But then again, if something isn’t broken, why try to fix it?
some have identified Webb and Howard as being sub average – or at least the weaker aspects of the current Oakland line. However, PFF ranked the Raiders’ offensive line as an overall sixth best in the entire NFL. Hmmm? Many would agree that the offensive line was one of the Raider’s biggest shortcomings prior to and early on in the 2015 season. But… and it indeed became one of the team’s biggest strengths. That’s impressive bt anyones terms.
The line did a decent job protecting Derek Carr enough to alow him to pass for just under 4,000 yardswhile also plowing the way Latavius Murray to become a pro bowler caliber palayer and Oakland’s first 1,000 yard rusher since Darren McFadden surpassed the threshold in 2010. Under the coaching asvvy of Mike Tice, Oakland’s offensive line was , regaless of the naysayers, one of the NFL’s better units in 2015.
If you can secure an upgrade through free agncy that would be a good win for the Raiders. top draft selection in the name of the offensive line would be a mistake in a line that is getting the job done by most terms. Especially in light of some larger needs that ned to be address.
The biggest and most obvious need is in the Raider’s secondary. Charles Woodson is retiring, so the team need to fill the safety position– although that need could possibly be filled out well by signing somebody like Eric Weddle. What the Raiders desperately need is a cornerback who can make some plays. Beyond David Amerson, the Raiders’ corners wernt producing the best results by any terms. Travis Carrie had an sub average season for a consistency basis and D.J. Hayden provided little to write home about. Carrie has the talent and plenty of upside and could be a solid slot corner. The Raiders might consider transitioning him over at the safety spot sinc ehe has proven in 2015 he could handle the role.
If the draft sloting works out the Raiders might be best served by taking a hard look at Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey or Clemson’s Mackensie Alexander. those two have the talent and athleticism that may very well mesh well at the pro level.
Additionally the Raiders could really use a linebacker who could hold down duties in the realm of pass coverage. Some solid talent exists n the team now but it not hard to remeber the, Oakland’s linebackers getting the short end of the stick on a good chunk of pass plays in 2015. Curtis Lofton ended up being more of a liability than the asset the organization has hoped for.
Neiron Ball was a unexpected surprise in 2015 as he proved capable at both run and pass defense, but his season was cut short by injury.
Somewhere it became a popular mantra that defense wins championships. Arizona v. Carolina, Denver v New England featured 4 teams who had defenses ranked in the top ten this season. Superbowl matchup teams – Denver and Carolina- have the first and sixth ranked defenses in the NFL in 2015.
Jack Del Rio knows that is takes awesome defenses to win big a the end of the day. Coach Del Rio has committed to building a defensive powerhouse in Oakland.
Kiper is dead wrong- no new insight. The Raiders don’t need to use their first round pick on an offensive lineman. The offense where the needs are most. Defense brings home the bacon.