New Look Raiders


With the way Barnes performed at guard after the return of Veldheer we could easily see him projected as the starter at LG. With Boothe being signed and projected as the starter at RG, Howard at RT, and Penn at LT that gives us a beefy nasty line that should make Wiz's job easier. This projection for starting O-line allows us to use any further drafting and signing of o-linemen to be for depth, and allows for the development of Watson perhaps even allowing him to develop into a versatile OL line Barnes, only better.

I don't think RB is really a position of need because we have a deep backfield at the moment that can be added to with later round draft picks and perhaps UDFA signings as well. With a beefy line like we now have it should open holes which could allow us to see some nice production out of Stewart, perhaps even see some of the flashes of the old DMC (should he stay healthy). Murray is wildcard as we don't know if he will stay healthy or what kind of production he will give in the NFL but he should at least know the playbook by this point. Sheets gives us that change of pace back that Taiwan was supposed to be before switching to CB, and there will be change of pace backs available later in the draft to add to this group.

WR is a question mark for the team still because the coaching staff needs to decide if they feel one of our young WRs can step up and become that #1 guy or if they want to do a Colts/Broncos/Packers type approach and have several quality #2 type WR and spread the ball around. I think this would be the smarter decision as it would be harder to game plan against the passing game when you don't know who is going to be the primary target.

TE is also a question because while yes we saw some improvement by our young TEs especially rivera, we haven't seen enough to be 100% set. I do however feel that this is not an area that really HAS to be addressed this year as a priority because of the potential of several of our current TEs we can afford to give it another year and see what they are capable of.

QB however is the biggest question now on the offense. WE know that TP was/is a project, he has been his whole NFL career. There are all these alleged upsides that some people still cling to with TP, leaving the question of whether his wins were the product of his athleticism or the stellar play of our defense in the first half of the season. Considering he had trouble putting points on the board and the fact that the o-line magically improved with a pocket QB I am inclined to say that it was a result of stellar play by a defense that didn't have enough gas in the tank for a whole season.Then you have MM the rookie UDFA that has garnered as large of a following of fandom as pryortown. His pocket presence, quick release and MOXY, improved the offense in terms of performance by the o-line, increased production from the running game, and the ability to put points on the board in BOTH halves of the game. However he was able to produce less wins, though a collapse of the defense in the 2nd half of the season could have been responsible for this. Being forced to overcome a point deficit could have been the reason for forced throws that were considered bad decisions leading to turnovers.

So neither QB has established themselves as the answer to the future YET. This off season could be the last for Pryor if he does not make the improvements in the basic fundamentals of his position that need to be made. MM now having an NFL season under his belt has to show that he can be that guy who can make smart decisions and carry the team on his back. Hopefully with a much improved (on paper) defense he will not have to go into desperation mode to score points and be forced to make throws he should know not to make. But the question remains does the staff want to sit it out and see how these young QBs develop in this upcoming crucial year? Do they plan to give the reins to the journeyman Edwards and see how the youngsters develop and improve, or do they take the shot at one of the rookie QBs in the 1st round?

With the solidifying of the o-line through free agency I don't see O-line being the target of our 1st pick. Depending on the game plan with the WRs we may not see a WR drafted with our 1st pick either. This leaves either a defensive pick or a QB. With as much of the defense that was addressed in FA I am leaning towards the belief they will either take one of the top 3 QBs at #5 or trade back to address a need in the secondary and take a QB in the 2nd round.


Defensively we have seen a major overhaul of the pass rush, which last year was one of our weak points. The weak pass rush could even be said to be responsible for the bad play of our secondary, though I believe it was more of a troubled secondary compounded by a lack of a strong pass rush. We did an outstanding job against the run, especially compared to recent years where playing us made RBs drool. With the signing of Tuck and Woodley we addressed that pass rush need for at least the time being. The signing of Smith gives us a nice push on the inside of the D-line though we are still lacking in the space eater NT. Due to the fact that we are getting deeper into FA without Sims being signed by another team, I am inclined to believe he will be back with a 2-3 year contract which will fill out the D-line, leaving only a need for depth which can be addressed with draft picks in the 2-7th round.

The LB corp while lacking in stellar production last year I think was largely affected by a lack of pressure by the front 4. We saw in seattle the difference that it makes when you get pressure from the Dline. That opens up a lot of things for our LBs to do when the DL is taking on double teams and freeing up the LBs. We have some talent in our LB corp that I think we will see shine brighter with this new improved Dline.

So our weakness on defense, at least on paper, is still our secondary. Last year our secondary play SUCKED plain and simple, even the future HOFer Woodson was unable to truly make a difference even though he was all over the field. Where before we used to make RBs drool, this past year we made QBs and WRs drool. We allowed good QBs to look like HOFers, and below average QBs to look like pro-bowlers. We made average WRs look like superstars. The secondary, other than one signing and one resigning, has not truly been addressed yet. We have Hayden which we are hoping shows he was worth his high draft pick status, we have Branch who is the only truly solid member of the secondary, and who we hope will not be affected by the injury that cost him most of the season. We also have Brown who is nothing more than a stop gap. Re-signing Woodson would serve the purpose of veteran leadership at the safety position to help mentor Young and perhaps a mid-round draft.

Right now there is a real lack of MAJOR talent available in FA for the secondary. Yes there are some big NAMES out there, most of whom are coming off of injuries and/or are on the wrong side of the age equation and are probably asking too much money thus the reason they have not been signed by anyone yet. I think the secondary is gonna stand as it is until the draft where it will be addressed with mid to late round additions, though the possibility of one more FA signing if the price is right is not out of the question.


Overall the FA moves have really created a sense of hope, most areas of need have been addressed in FA leaving the Draft to be source of the final pieces and depth which can be allowed to develop into starters over the course of the next 2 years.

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