One thing I more certain of day by day is that our GM is seeking the upgrades necessary for a more credible team in 2014.
He has the money and time - he has a plan- he has a job description for each of the future pieces:
Come to work - compete - be a person of good character - a leader in the locker room - play with controlled passion - help the team.
A quick look at who he has signed shows a manipulation of this plan; player who play with intensity and are scheme versatile and are known as "team guys" over being self absorbed. Tuck, Woodley, Howard, Boothe, Jones, Brown, Young, Barnes are guys we can say unilaterally fit these job orders. They are productive, steady, lunch pail types.
But as anyone can observe, this team is far from able to add the one piece to squelch all the ills which have plagued our team over the past decade. We are not ready as the Broncos were when they added Peyton Manning. Not even close.
A quick scan sees deficiencies in starting talent and depth at several positions: DT, LB (IMO), S, QB, TE and G (though many would argue LT) - some might insist that WR should be on this list as well.
So lets delve into what is out there in FA, and what is in this draft with our current picks which could help begin to meet the need of the missing pieces.
FS - Our own Charles Woodson tops the list - could he be brought back? To once again lead the backside of our D? Other options incloude Thomas DeCoud, or perhaps Chris Clemons - a cap casualty in Miami younger and probably less expensive; might be a good longer term solution. Short term depth might include Steven Gregory. Draftees might include Deon Buchanon, Calvin Pryor, Ha-Ha Clinton Dix.
OL - So many are crying that we have no LT - Actually we have two who can play the position though with little or no hope of being elite this year. The book is in on Barnes and out on Watson. One is steady and experienced and does not promise more than what you have seen - the other is full of upside, athleticism off the charts and unknown as to stability and performance. FA options - Donald Penn LT, Travelle Wahrton, Darren Colledge, Brian de la Puente G. Draft options: Jake Matthew is plug and play at LT where Robinson and Lewan have some development needed. All three would come in day one and start IMO. Gabe Jackson, David Yankey, the "mowin' Somoan" from UCLA and Zach Martin project inside and also could be plug and play day one starters at guard.
LB - Here is where i get the most flack among my Raider friends - "we are all set" they say....umm NO! We are very average at LB. Roach is solid in the middle and Moore promising on the edge. Burnett had his moments but overall can't tackle worthy of his play. Especially out in space. Yuck. Burris is raw and Maiava and the younger Burnett give us ST play, but not much in the defensive scheme. FA tagets: Erin Henderson and Shaun Phillips - not much here. Draft prospects; CJ Mosely and Ryan Shazier would be day one starters IMO.
DT - With the current troupe consisting of Stacey Mcgee and the versatile Antonio Smith it is easy to see we need help at this spot in the line up. Henry Melton if fully recovered from his 2013 injury could offer a long term solution as could Alex Carrington who left Oakland without signing a contract. It makes sense to bring back Pat Sims, and Kevin Williams should garner a look - even if for one year! Prospects in the draft include Louis Nix, Aaron Donald in round one, Ra'shede Hagemann in round two. Later round picks may include Justin Hart, Will Clarke, who both have scheme versatility to be 3-4 ends and Daniel McCullers.
TE - the market is dried up for those being a true 3 down TE (Dallas Clark in shortened duty may suffice) The draft is where we will find our ace at this position. Austin Seferian-Jenkins heads my list of those who excel in the blocking game and have the athleticism to do damage up the seam. Crockett Gilmore is a 4-5th round grade who has come out of nowhere to showcase his skills at the all-star games and combine. No one says athleticism like Eric Ebron (in my top 10 playmakers list) with Jace Amaro right behind him. Troy Nicklaus stands out on tape as does CJ Fedorowitez (sp) from Iowa.
QB - well here we are again. To McGloin or to not McGloin? I do not see a case this off-season where we have not taken a chance on a 30 something QB (or at least late 20's) to see if we have a 5-8 year franchise guy. Matt Schaub, Michael Vick, Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman would be here in this class. All of them have the that franchise QB potential and at times have played like it. The draft also brings plenty of options for our future: the big three, AJ McCarron, Jimmy G, Mettenberger, Murray, Thomas and Boyd will all be available to us should we go this route.
So we can see many many holes still to be filled though RM has done everything any fan can hope for in getting the talent here that he has.
Onward Reggie - keep them coming, leave no stone unturned!