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ESPN panel gives Raiders grim outlook, ranks front office worst in NFL

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Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Today ESPN set forth to not just rank teams as they currently look, but to project how good they'll be over the next three seasons. They did that by putting together a panel of three experts - John Clayton, Louis Riddick, and Mike Sando - and have them rate each team on a scale of 0-100 in five categories: roster (excluding quarterback), quarterback, draft, front office and coaching.

After all the results were in, they were able to rank each team by where they project they will perform over the next three years.

Here is how they explain how to categorize their process:

After averaging the results from the panelists, each of the five categories was weighted to create the overall score -- roster (30 percent), quarterback (20 percent), draft (15 percent), front office (15 percent) and coaching (20 percent). The result is a comprehensive rankings based on how well each team is positioned for the future.

Once quantified, the Raiders landed at 29th in the league, which is pretty much where they have been the past three years, which suggests these guys don't see the Raiders improving any time soon.

Here is what they had to say about the Raiders:

29. Oakland Raiders

2014 record: 3-13 (4th in AFC West)

AFC West future rank: 4th

Overall score: 56.5

ESPN bar graphs

The bar graphs reflect the average rating given by the voters for each category. Category averages are weighted by importance to generate overall score.

The overview: The Raiders climbed three spots overall after jumping from 26th to 16th in the quarterback category, a vote of confidence in Derek Carr. It seems surprising that the Raiders actually dropped two spots to 31st in drafting after landing Carr, Khalil Mack, Amari Cooper and others, but it's also true that the team's promising young players are not yet proven difference makers. The Raiders' remained 32nd in front office outlook, which seems fair given the Raiders' overall organizational instability. --Mike Sando

The dilemma: There's no doubt Carr needs to improve in his second season, but the key to the Raiders' future rests equally on the shoulders Cooper. The fourth overall pick in 2015, Cooper shines both on and off the field, and has everything you want from the face of the franchise. (He reminds me a little of former Raider great Cliff Branch in that sense.) In totality, Cooper is one of the best wide receiver prospects I have ever scouted, and for him not to deliver early -- and in a big way -- would be a major disappointment. --Louis Riddick

The youth movement: General manager Reggie McKenzie has put together two solid drafts, but this is still a roster with plenty of holes. The reason? Only three draftees remain from the 2011 and 2012 classes, and none are starters. In fact, the Raiders have given second contracts to only three draft choices since 2007. You'd expect that to change in the not-too-distant future: Mack and Cooper are two elite prospects, while Carr showed some promise as a rookie. --John Clayton

The three teams who ranked below the Raiders are the Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans, and Jacksonville Jaguars.

My analysis:

There are some odd discrepancies in the results as I see them. First of all, how could the Raiders draft rankings actually get worse despite what seems like the panel's realization of how good the Raiders 2014 draft was? They raised the Raiders QB grade due to 2014 draftee Derek Carr and then there's the phenomenal rookie season of Khalil Mack along with rookie starters Gabe Jackson, Justin Ellis, and T.J. Carrie. I mean, I get that the 2012 draft was a disaster and the 2013 drafts hasn't yielded much, but actually dropping in ranking from last year (to 31st) is a real head scratcher.

The coaching got worse?? Really? I'm not sure how that's even possible. Especially considering prior to last season, their own publication ranked Dennis Allen as the worst head coach in the NFL.

While it's hard to argue with their assessment on the front office allowing so many of the Raiders' home grown players go, along with their struggles in free agency, how can ANY front office be ranked lower than the 49ers right now? Or in Cleveland?

Here is the entire list in order:

1             Green Bay Packers

2             Seattle Seahawks

3             New England Patriots

4             Baltimore Ravens

5             Pittsburgh Steelers

6             Dallas Cowboys

7             Minnesota Vikings

8             Cincinnati Bengals

9             Kansas City Chiefs

10           Carolina Panthers

11           Arizona Cardinals

12           Detroit Lions

13           San Diego Chargers

14           Denver Broncos

15           Philadelphia Eagles

16           Indianapolis Colts

17           St Louis Rams

18           New Orleans Saints

19           Atlanta Falcons

20           New York Giants

21           New York Jets

22           San Francisco 49ers

23           Miami Dolphins

24           Houston Texans

25           Chicago Bears

26           Buffalo Bills

27           Washington Redskins

28           Tampa Bay Buccaneers

29           Oakland Raiders

30           Cleveland Browns

31           Tennessee Titans

32           Jacksonville Jaguars

To see the entire article, click here (you have an ESPN Insider account to view it)