For the second year in a row the Oakland Raiders have experienced an extreme amount of turnover. The 2014 team looks drastically different than what the 2013 team looked like. From the performance on the field last year it is safe to say that it is a very good thing for the two squads to look unrecognizable to each other.
With so many new faces on the team it has created a whole new dynamic to the team. Just about every position on the Raiders looks different than it did last year which means that the strength of the team will be different too. My question to you is which one of the Raiders positions is the strongest area of the team?
- Quarterback: Last year the team was lead by two extremely inexperienced players at the QB position in Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin. This year McGloin is slated to be the back up to new signal called Matt Schaub, and there is also the other new kid in town in Derek Carr. This position undoubtedly went from questionable to more secure, but did it increase enough to be the strength of the team?
- Running Back: This position isn't as cut and dry better as the Quarterback position is for the team, but that doesn't exclude it from being considered the biggest strength of the club. In fact, if this was just a few years ago not only would the combination of Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden and Marcel Reece at fullback be the biggest strength of the team, it would be the best backfield in all of the NFL. They certainly still are an intriguing combo, intriguing enough to still be in the running for the strength of the team is up to you.
- Wide Receiver: The Raiders receivers are not being talked about as a force, but they are pretty good in their own right. Andre Holmes was playing at a pro bowl level to finish the season last year, James Jones is an experienced veteran, Rod Steater is a fan favorite that is always giving his all on the field, and Denarius Moore has the skills (though has lacked the consistency) to be one of the better receivers in the league. You don't even have to know the guys battling it out to round out the position to deem this a conceivable competitor for the strength of the team.
- Tight End: Mychal Rivera showed that he has the ability to spread the seams and make the tough catches last year. They also have the elusive David Ausberry who looked primed to break out last year before he was lost for the year before the season ever started. This position is looked at as one of the biggest need positions by many, but will you voters say otherwise?
- Offensive Line: There was a concerted effort by Reggie McKenzie to address the offensive line this year with new potential starters added at several positions. Donald Penn is a huge man who was once a Pro Bowl player, Kevin Boothe is a man with 2 Super Bowl rings while playing G for the NY Giants, Stefan Wisnewski is the rock in the middle at Center, Austin Howard has been a Tackle known for his run blocking up until now who the Raiders plan to play at G and Manelik Watson showed a lot of potential in the little time he was healthy as a rookie last year.
Besides the believed starters they still have rookie Gabe Jackson, Khalif Barnes, and Matt McCants to round out Levi Damien's early prediction for the roster. Any of those three could work their way into the starting line up and if not they are quality depth. That is a lot of beef and a lot of experience on the line, it is easy to see this being the strength of the team too.
- Defensive Line: Just like the offensive line, the defensive line was also a major point of emphasis this off-season. The DE's are both new to the team in Justin Tuck from the Giants and Lamarr Woodley from the Steelers. At DT on the other hand there is newly acquired Antonio Smith and incumbent Pat Sims. All four players are formidable and two of them have multiple Super Bowl rings in Woodley and Tuck.
Then they still have rookie Justin "Jelly" Ellis, 2nd year player Stacey McGee who showed to be a player with potential last season, and Levi's projected roster has the raw athlete Jack Crawford rounding out the position. Battling to make the team there is notable vet in CJ Wilson and rookie DT Shelby Harris.
The leadership of the defense will be coming from the new championship DE's in Tuck and Woodley. If they play up to their former pro bowl levels this defense will be wreaking havoc on opposing Quarterbacks and if that happens it will be hard to argue against the defensive line being the biggest strength of the team.
- Linebackers: The Raiders used their 1st round selection on OLB Khalil Mack in this year's draft and he brings with him a ton of hype and a ton of expectations. He looks the part and promises to be a huge addition to the team. Besides Mack the Raiders also have last year's most talented rookie on the other side with OLB Sio Moore. This combo of young players could become the core of the defensive very easily with their talent, tenaciousness and leadership abilities. MLB Nick Roach has also shown to be a solid starter in the NFL.Veteran
Kevin Burnett is a starter quality OLB that appears to be the odd man out with Mack & Moore being too young and talented to beat out as starters. Kevin is one hell of a player to have as depth but they also have Miles Burris and Kaluka Maiva as additional depth who have shown flashes of nice potential. Is this group your favorite to win the poll for the strength of the team?
- Cornerbacks: Another position with a lot of new faces at it, the starters are likely to be Tarel Brown and DJ Hayden but nickleback Carlos Rodgers has a lot of experience as a starter in the NFL too. They also have the big body rookie Keith McGill who is eager to show what he can bring to the team and Levi's projected player Chance Casey who was one of the stars of last year's preseason even though he didn't make the team. Do you think these guys have what it takes to be the biggest strength of the team?
- Safety: Charles Woodson may be old, but he still has some good football left in him. Besides C-Wood the Raiders also have Tyvon Branch who was once Franchise Tagged but missed most of last season with an injury. Both of them are strong, talented players who plan on striking fear into the hearts of opposing QB's. They also have rookie Jonathon Dowling and the surprisingly good Usama Young as the likely players for depth, though don't count out Brandian Ross just yet. With the vets in place this year, is Safety your pick for the strength of your Oakland Raiders?
- Kickers: Ah yes, the ageless Sebastian Janikowski and the best athlete at his position in punter Marquette King. Both of these guys are talented and do what they need to do for the team. In many years past the kicker positions really were the strength of the team, but hopefully that is not still the case. Alas, you readers get to choose and there is definitely still a case to be made for these guys too.
So there you have it people! Here are your options, now let us know what you think in the poll question below and in the comments!