Recently Levi Damien went through the Raiders entire roster to grade them and establish a need priority level for each position. Here is the page to let you go back into any one of the articles if you haven't seen them. The results are not very surprising to see, but here they are anyway.
- Returners - Grade C, Moderate Need
- Kicker/Punter- Grade C-, Low Need
- Safety- Grade C-, Moderate Need
- Corners- Grade D+, High Need
- Linebackers- Grade C+, Low Need
- Defensive Ends- Grade C, Urgent Need
- Defensive Tackles- Grade C, High Need
- Guard/Center- Grade D+, High Need
- Offensive Tackle- Grade B, Low Need
- Tight End- Grade C-, Moderate Need
- Fullback- Grade A, Low Need
- Running Back- Grade C+, High Need
- Quarterback- Grade D, Urgent Need
What his analysis shows us is that Oakland has needs all across the board, which was pretty clear to anybody who watched the Raiders this past season. Everywhere you look there is room for improvement, except for Fullback where Marcel Reece holds down the position with consistently elite play and possibly the exception of the Offensive Tackles as well. So what does that mean for this off-season?
Well first and foremost it means the Raiders can draft any position they want. When you are put in a position where you need upgrades across the board it actually opens up the draft strategy because the best player available is always going to be a position of need as well. There are no wrong answers this year for the position they decide to draft, though there always could be wrong answers for the specific players that are drafted if they end up being busts.
Another thing that needs across the board helps for draft time is that it strengthens the Raiders position for any trades in the draft. No team can look at the best player available and say there is no way that the Raiders will draft that guy so we can wait. Since every player on the board is going to be an option for Oakland if a team is eyeing up a player once the Raiders turn hits then the only way to be certain that the Raiders wont draft them is to trade for that pick. That is a good position to be in for leverage.
Having needs across the board is going to help in Free Agency too. No matter what position they go after for upgrades, they show an immediate chance to become a starter in. If a free agent wants to be assured adequate playing time, then they know that the Raiders are a team that will be offering them that.
They also have the money to sign whatever free agent they want, assuming they can convince them to come into Alameda County for a visit. The ability to offer starting positions and the salaries to go with them puts the Raiders in a fortuitous situation for this off-season. Their lousy play the last couple years could be a hindrance to bringing in new players but the players know that every year things can change in the NFL.
Yes it sucks to have to look at those positions and know that there is work to do everywhere. However, that fact also can help them with leverage in both the draft and in free agency. Ideally they wouldn't need the leverage because their team will be set but that is not the current state of the team. Hopefully, Reggie McKenzie and company will use their leverage wisely and then maybe they will be in a more ideal state for the future.