The Raiders have been the team every sports analyst likes to dog this off-season. Without listing all the other previous rankings that have had the Raiders scraping the bottom, let's just say it has been pretty dismal.
The latest is Matt Williamson of ESPN who today graded the Raiders' off-season the worst in the AFC. He gave them a "C-" based on net gains and losses. Here is his reasoning:
Analysis: I hate putting a grade on the Raiders' offseason. This front office is doing an exceptional job of bargain basement shopping while dumping good players to get out from under a terrible situation that it inherited. But my grades are based on if the team improved on the field or not, and while I give this group credit for some very shrewd additions, the Raiders simply are not ready to compete right now. They rival the Jaguars as the worst roster in the entire league.
With the criteria of losses versus gains alone, there is some sense made here. He goes on to say he will probably give the Raiders a "superb grade" next year because they will have so much money to spend. If one were to play devil's advocate, one could point to just about every team who spent wildly in free agency and show an almost certain failure equation (Eagles, Redskins, etc).
Williamson then breaks down each side of the ball for the Raiders as he sees it:
The defensive line is a big problem area, but Oakland is better at linebacker and at cornerback than it was a year ago. The Raiders now have several linebackers who are not well-known but are quality NFL players, and Sio Moore is a great addition in the third round. Jenkins, Porter and especially D.J. Hayden give the Raiders a core of man-to-man cover CBs to build around, which is a premium position. This front office was very familiar with Woodson (and Flynn for that matter) from their time together in Green Bay. Woodson will bring leadership and could firm up this secondary that I project to be much improved. Woodson also has rare versatility for the position.
On offense, right tackle was a huge problem spot in 2012. Menelik Watson has a lot of upside, but he is definitely a project, which works fine with the Raiders' long term plan. The pass-catchers here are young and very unproven, but Nick Kasa and Mychal Rivera could develop at tight end. There are sure to be growing pains with Flynn's or Tyler Wilson's receiving corps. Along those lines, don't be surprised if Flynn is beaten out by a rookie named Wilson for the second year in a row.
In the backfield, Latavius Murray possesses a rare combination of size and speed and could make a name for himself in Oakland's new power blocking scheme if/when Darren McFadden goes down with injury.
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So, if I may, to sum up what he said; the Raiders have a worse defensive line but better linebackers and corners so what appears to be a better defense overall. They are the same on the offensive line, wide receiver, and running back, but worse at quarterback and tight end.
In a league where every team at least THINKS they have improved at key need positions, in Williamson's eyes the Raiders overall have not. As we all know, you just never really know. And that's what makes an off-season grade different than simply a grade of the team. Then again, in that case, I would think he would have factored the Raiders difficult salary situation rather than just mentioning it as a side note. But, hey, to each his own.