Quarterback- Derek Carr is back for his 6th season with the Raiders and year number 2 under Jon Gruden. Derek’s best years were when he had Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree on the outside. Coming into this year he has Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams on the outside. Who knows what Jon Gruden’s plan is, whether that is trying to re-live the Rich Gannon years and a west coast offense, or choosing more of a run and gun style of offensive where it will show off the current Wide Receivers speed. Either way, Derek Carr has to show he is the Quarterback of the future for this franchise soon to be moving to Las Vegas. There is a high probability the City of Las Vegas doesn’t want a losing product on the field the first year there. It is put up or shut up time for Carr.
Running Backs- The Raiders are currently have some depth at the running back position. Oakland’s backfield already included Doug Martin, the human bowling ball, who was their leading rusher last year. Followed by Jalen Richard who was the pass catching back, catching 68 balls for 607 yards. Then slightly used DeAndre Washington who was used more the year prior. In the draft they decided to add another running back, Josh Jacobs, out of Alabama who could possibly win the starting job in training camp. Taking away touches from all 3 of the guys already on the roster. However they choose to work it out, it seems like they will go running back by committee with one possibly being used more than the others. Unless Jacobs really shows out, he won’t be an every down back.
Wide Receiver- The Raiders made a trade to snatch Antonio Brown formally of the Pittsburgh Steelers who is one of the best in the league. He has gotten a bad rap for being a cancer in the locker so we will see how he is outside of Pittsburgh. Then they got Tyrell Williams in free agency who was on their division rivals team the year prior, with the Chargers. He is a deep threat no doubt about it. They could go with Ryan Grant in the slot, and Marcell Ateman could be the red zone target they need in this offense if everything comes together perfectly, but it is not a deep group of receivers, more unproven potential if anything.
Tight Ends- It was not a smart move letting Jared Cook walk after being their leading receiver. They have no depth or even really a starter at this spot unless someone suprises them out of nowhere in camp. They drafted Foster Moreau out of LSU in the 4th round in the draft so they better hope he pans out, if not don’t look for a lot of production coming from the tight end position.
Offensive Line- I can’t say their O-line was as good as it was a few years back, that is for sure. Especially when your QB gets sacked 51 times, some of that can be blamed on wide receivers not being able to get open. There is a lot of questions coming into this year for the Raiders and the offensive line will be towards the top of the list on whether they can improve.
Defense- The one area on the defense that should be solid for them this year is at the linebacker spots, bringing in Vontaze Burfict from the Bengals, who sometimes is a little too hot headed, but fits the Raiders perfectly. There outside backers will be Tahir Whitehead and Brandon Marshall most likely. The defensive line will have questions, number 1 being the 1st first round draft pick Clelin Ferrell, did they reach when there were others for the taking? In their secondary they brought over Lamarcus Joyner from the Rams and hopefully Karl Joseph improves this year. Cornerback play will be a huge concern for them coming into this year.
I don’t see them as playoff bound this year with all the new players coming in from free agency and the draft. It will take some time for them to gel as a team, 8-8 will be a big improvement over last year. The Raiders, if they do make the playoffs in the upcoming years, might want to start getting comfortable in a wild card spot anyway, barring injury Patrick Mahomes might own that division for a while.