With the heavy lifting of the offseason done, the Las Vegas Raiders appear ready for the 2021 season.
Once again, this is a new-look roster for the Raiders after many changes in the past few months.
Let’s review with my favorite moves and the decisions that I am skeptical of. Let’s go:
Best veteran addition:
Yannick Ngakoue — and it’s not even close! The Raiders have an upper-level pass rusher now and that was their biggest need going into the offseason. Ngakoue wasn’t great in 2020, but he has the ability to take over games. His presence should be felt in every game. Ngakoue should also take pressure off Maxx Crosby and help keep him fresh. Thus, Ngakoue’s impact could be two-fold.
Sneaky good veteran addition:
I like what wide receiver John Brown will bring to the offense. The Raiders got a lot out of Nelson Agholor on a one-year team-friendly deal in 2020. He cashed in on a big contract with the New England Patriots this year. Instead of making a mistake and matching that deal, the Raiders let Agholor walk and added Brown at a much cheaper price. They’re similar players and Brown should have the same type of impact Agholor had last year,
Veteran addition I think is overrated:
Kenyan Drake. Nothing against Drake. He’s a fine player and he will help the Raiders. But he’s not worth $11 million over two years as a backup. Reserve running backs are easy to find — remember DeVontae Booker last year? Again, Drake isn’t going to hurt the Raiders, but the price tag was unnecessary.
Move I think can backfire on defense:
It wouldn’t surprise me if Maurice Hurst has a bigger impact on the San Francisco 49ers than Solomon Thomas has on the Raiders at defensive tackle. Of course, the Raiders signed Thomas in March and later cut Hurst in a salary-cap move. He then signed with the 49ers.
Move I think can backfire on offense:
Simply put, the Raiders are going to miss Rodney Hudson. He was the heart-and-soul of the team. Andre James might become a good player, but he very likely won’t match Hudson’s impact on the offense anytime soon.
Best draft pick:
Getting TCU safety Trevon Moehrig was a tremendous move. The Raiders had to move up from No. 48 to get him at No. 43. If this didn’t happen, Las Vegas’ draft would look a lot less promising. They got their starting free safety.
Worst draft approach:
On the surface, there is nothing wrong with the picks of safety/linebacker Divine Deablo (third round), safety Tyree Gillespie (fourth) and slot cornerback Nate Hobbs (fifth). But these players are now direct threats to safety Johnathan Abram (first round, 2019), linebacker Tanner Muse (third round, 2020) and slot cornerback Amik Robertson (fourth round, 2020). There is nothing wrong with competition, but trying to make up for draft mistakes year-after year could keep the roster, as a whole, from growing.
Best coaching move:
Hiring Gus Bradley as defensive coordinator. He was the best candidate and fit for this defense as is an upper-level coach.