By the end of this week the Raiders will have a lot of new, young talent in house. They like to say they are going for ‘Best Player Available’, but pure BPA drafts are a myth. It’s always a combo of need and BPA, usually leaning heavily toward need. With that in mind, here are the Raiders top needs heading into this draft:
Most positions this offseason the Raiders added players who were either an outright replacement for a player lost or a slight upgrade. But not offensive tackle. They cut Marshall Newhouse and signed 32-year-old Breno Giacomini.
Though the team says there is an open competition at the right tackle spot, Giacomini would be considered the favorite to start at this juncture with last year’s fourth round pick David Sharpe as is closest competition. But really, Giacomini should be depth. On the other side, Donald Penn is entering his final season at the age of 35. Long term answers are needed on both sides. Preferably someone who can play right tackle this year and shift to left tackle the season after.
Probably the Raiders best signing this offseason was that of Tahir Whitehead. He can play the middle linebacker spot, but ideally he would line up at one of the outside linebacker positions. NaVorro Bowman has not re-signed and has yet to sign with any team. Presumably because his people have a number in mind and when the Raiders or another team are willing to pay it, he will sign. Whether the Raiders are willing to relent could depend on whether they find a linebacker in the draft.
Production from the interior defensive line on this team has been nearly non-existent for some time now. Letting Denico Autry -- the top interior pass rusher last season — go in free agency doesn’t help. Their moves have been to re-sign Justin Ellis and add Tank Carradine. Neither provide any pass rush and neither have been more than rotational players in their careers. Counting on Mario Edwards Jr to live up to his potential has not proven fruitful while their day two interior DL picks of Jihad Ward and Eddie Vanderdoes have not shown much promise either. This position is in dire need of attention.
This was the team’s top need coming into the offseason and remains among their needs. Though the moves they have made could have it not nearly quite as urgent as it was initially. They’ve essentially swapped out Sean Smith, David Amerson, and TJ Carrie with Gareon Conley, Rashaad Melvin, and the combo of Shareece Wright, Leon Hall, Senquez Golson, and Daryl Worley. Wright and Hall are vets and Golson and Worley are young players looking to prove their day two draft statuses. That’s an influx of competition that may or may not result in one slot receiver and depth. Most of them are castoffs on one-year prove-it deals, so no matter what, the Raiders need a long term answer.
Jordy Nelson came available and the team opted for him over Michael Crabtree. They traded away Cordarrelle Patterson who never did much as a receiver. That leaves them with Amari Cooper and Nelson as starters and Seth Roberts as the third receiver. Unless they moved Coop into the slot, they have no quick/speedy slot guy. They also have no big body on the outside who can win jump balls and be a red zone threat, but that may be hard to come by in this weak receiver draft.
This isn’t as urgent as the other needs, but it is a position the Raiders could and probably should address. If for no other reason than this is a fantastic draft for running backs and they would be foolish to not partake. Marshawn Lynch is the starter on this team, but after that it’s up in the air. Currently it’s a three-man competition between third year backs Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington and newly signed Doug Martin. This is Marshawn’s last year so finding a long term replacement would be a good idea.