For what it's worth, this will be an ongoing series of what I think needs to happen, or what I think will happen. For what I think needs to happen, I will obviously put out who, what and when I see as the best moves that are available at the time; for what I think will happen, it will be what I see as the moves that the Raiders will make, although I may or may not agree with them. So, let's get started with this installment, defensive end...
This is a position that I felt really helped to eventually sink the defense; although not the only culprit, the failings here exposed other flaws that may have otherwise been less of an issue. There is some starting talent here, but not enough at this point. I expect that this is be a major focus position in the draft and/or free agency.
Houston: The best player at the position, without a doubt. That said, he doesn't appear to be a dominant pass rusher, although he has shown that he is top notch at setting the edge against the run. The fact that he is not a dominant pass rusher is borne out by his difficulty in beating double teams, something that helped prevent the defense from generating consistent pressure on the QB. That is not entirely his fault, and is not a reason to let him go either. He is going to be a free agent, but the above will affect his value. He will not command the money that will go to a Greg Hardy, for instance, but he will still sign a very nice contract. Due to my belief that we will definitely try to re-sign him, and that he will get fair market value, I don't believe that a premium DE will be signed as a free agent; too much money tied up in a single position.
Hunter: Something of a disappointment as a free agent signing ; it wasn't that he did nothing, but that he was effective in such short bursts, and only on occasion. I don't know that it would be worth bringing this free agent back even as a backup, since that could cut into playing time for the younger players with more upside that I expect to be signed/drafted. My feeling is that he doesn't return.
Robinson: Showed flashes, but still pretty raw. Depending on what happens with the draft and free agency, he may be fighting for a spot on the practice squad, although continued development could secure a roster spot.
Crawford: Somewhat similar to Houston, seems better against the run that at pressuring the QB, although not as proficient at either. Still a backup, he will need to continue to develop his repertoire of rush moves to be able to stick with a team for extended periods. His greatest upside is his athleticism; time will tell if he is able to translate that into his play.
McCoy: Reserve/futures contract signing; was a linebacker in Jacksonville. Apparently going to be tried as a rush end; we'll see.
This group currently offers, in my estimation, one impact-style player, but even he is not able to dominate without some assistance. That is not a knock, by the way. It is the single position in the most need of an infusion of top talent. Although I don't expect a high profile free agent signing, I fully expect at least a first- or second-round pick spent here, and more players brought in through the draft or free agency to improve the position through competition.