This offseason for the Raiders has been all about ensuring that he isn't going to be boxed in by need on draft day. The Raiders attacked several key positions of need in free agency signing offensive guard Kelechi Osemele, linebacker Bruce Irvin, cornerback Sean Smith, and safety Reggie Nelson.
Those four players add to an impressive accumulation of talent Reggie McKenzie and company has brought into Oakland the past two years through the draft and free agency. The aftermath is that for the first time in recent memory, the Raiders will be drafting without any prominent holes to fill.
To find out how and when this phenomenon occurred, I ran through the Raiders projected starters on both offense and defense and listed how they were acquired.
QB: Derek Carr, 2014 NFL Draft (second round)
RB: Latavius Murray, 2013 NFL Draft (sixth round)
FB: Marcel Reece, 2008 free agent signing
WR: Amari Cooper, 2015 NFL Draft (first round)
WR: Michael Crabtree, 2015 free agent signing
TE: Clive Walford, 2015 NFL Draft (third round)
Slot WR: Seth Roberts, 2014 undrafted free agent
LT: Donald Penn, 2014 and 2016 free agent signing
LG: Kelechi Osemele, 2016 free agent signing
C: Rodney Hudson, 2015 free agent signing
RG: Gabe Jackson, 2014 NFL Draft (third round)
RT: Austin Howard, 2014 free agent signing
DE: Denico Autry, 2014 undrafted free agent
DT: Dan Williams, 2015 free agent signing
DT: Justin Ellis, 2014 NFL Draft (4th round)
DE: Mario Edwards Jr, 2015 NFL Draft (second round)
OLB: Khalil Mack, 2014 NFL Draft (first round)
MLB: Malcom Smith, 2015 free agent signing
OLB: Bruce Irvin, 2016 free agent signing
OLB/DE: Aldon Smith, 2015 and 2016 free agent signing
CB: Sean Smith, 2016 free agent signing
CB: David Amerson: 2015 free agent signing
CB/Nickel: T.J. Carrie, 2014 NFL Draft (seventh round)
FS: Reggie Nelson, 2016 free agent signing
SS: Nate Allen, 2015 and 2016 free agent signing
With exception to Latavius Murray and Marcel Reece, every starter on the Raiders roster has been acquired since 2014. The offense is loaded with talent including boasting the top offensive line in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus.
Most importantly the Silver and Black appear to finally have a franchise quarterback in Derek Carr. After making enormous strides in his second season, Carr is looking to solidify his status as a top-ten quarterback in the NFL.. Leading out his offensive weapons are Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Latavius Murray, and Clive Walford.
As potent as the Raiders offense is, they made the most improvement on defense this offseason. The Raiders front seven is scary featuring Khalil Mack, Bruce Irvin, Mario Edwards Jr, and eventually Aldon Smith. Those four pass rushers are going to cause absolute hell for opposing quarterbacks and offensive coordinators. Dan Williams and Justin Ellis hold down the interior defensive line and are solid run stuffers, while Denico Autry is a great rotational piece. At linebacker, Malcom Smith has shown the ability to be an every down middle linebacker. Meanwhile, the Raiders coaching staff likes what Ben Heeney and Neiron Bell bring to the table.
In the secondary, the Raiders may have finally solved their longtime cornerback problem with the trio of Sean Smith, David Amerson, and T.J. Carrie. Keep an eye on Neiko Thorpe as another player that could push for playing time. The final major need was safety which has been revamped with the addition of Pro Bowler Reggie Nelson.
Not having to worry about addressing any major needs in the draft allows great flexibility. Instead, the Raiders can draft the top player on his board. Raiders fans, what a time to be alive!