The Raiders are 3-7 with their only wins coming off the worst team in football the Houston Texans and sweeping the Denver Broncos, not exactly high profile victories to say the least. They still have matchups vs the Seahawks, Chargers, Rams, Steelers, Patriots, 49ers, and Chiefs coming up. It’s not out of the realm of possibility they finish with only four or five wins which would likely put them holding somewhere between the third and seventh overall pick, they currently hold the fourth overall pick, but I see that changing a bit soon.
Now before I even start, Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler are staying. Raider fans are clearly disappointed with their current season and I don’t blame them at all. Despite the Raiders being 10-7 last year under an interim head coach and making the playoffs, they simply were not a good team. They ranked 20th in offensive EPA (expected points added), 25th defensively and 24th on special teams for a total of 22nd overall. Their DVOA (defensive or offensive adjusted value over average) ranked 26th at -11.1% below league average. Offensively they ranked 19th at positive 4%, their defense 17th at 0.6%. Not to sound like a broken record but they were not a good team.
Comparing those statistics to their 2022 rankings their offense is up to 14th based on EPA, defense currently sits at 25th while boasting the league’s worst pass defense. As a team they place 20th overall. On DVOA they currently sit 22nd, an offensive ranking of 12th with a 6.3% and defensively again 32nd at 17.2% with 2nd being 13.7%. Special teams sit at 10th based on DVOA and EPA. While their defense has seen obvious regression and that’s a key area for change to be made their offense has seen improvements especially in the run game where they have increased in both yards per carry, yards per game, and rushes to both the exterior tackle and interior tackle compared to last season. Their passing offense has utilized more motion, and is creating more explosive plays largely behind the presence of Davante Adams. This is also an offense that is seeing progression and improvements while missing two key playmakers in Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller.
Ok so to start, how do we fix this team in ideally one off-season? They clearly have the talent to do so. The first question comes with Derek Carr, the Raiders could easily move on from him this off-season and save themselves around 40M in cash with 34M in cap space coming off the books. Carr isn’t one of the league’s elite QBs but he does play to a strong standard at times while also playing to a poor one as well. He’ll likely never carry you to a Super Bowl on his own but with the right team there’s a chance he takes the Raiders there. Now it’s never a great thing to rely on an average to slightly above QB with an elite roster to make the Super Bowl, it just can’t be built for long term success. If the Raiders end up with a top five selection, preferably top three, they would have a fantastic shot at taking either Alabama’s Bryce Young or Ohio State’s CJ Stroud while moving on from Carr. Right now, I can’t see the Raiders moving on from Carr for one of these two with other issues surrounding the team. However, I do see them grabbing a 3rd to 4th round QB to develop behind Carr and who knows maybe he’ll turn into their starter. If not they can go again for a true starting QB in 2024 after really building this team up more.
First things start on their current roster. There’s some glaring holes primarily at RT, one OG spot, IDL, off-ball LB, pass rushing DTs and EDGE rushers, one to two corners and a starting safety. Long story short, there’s some problems. The team has some core free agents coming up that you can’t afford to lose simply for the fact of creating other holes on your team that’s trying to fix many others. HB Josh Jacobs and CB Rock Ya-Sin are among these two, Jacobs is playing sensational football right now ranking 3rd in yards, 7th in touchdowns, 1st in rushing first downs, yard after contact and missed tackles forced. Rock Ya-Sin has only allowed 26 of 45 targets for 263 yards, 0 TD, a 74 QBR and 7 PBU. He’s been shut down for them and likely won’t be super expensive to retain either. Other players I could see the Raiders bringing back simply for depth purposes include DE Clelin Ferrell (having a good year, not to be un appreciated), WR Mack Hollins who’s put up 36 rec, 468 yards and two TDs well on pace for a strong 750+ yard season, FB Jakob Johnson (PFF’s 4th ranked fullback), S Duron Harmon, and DT’s Jerry Tillery and Andrew Billings. Now none of these re-signings should be expensive nor be valued as their current starting valuation, most are backups outside Johnson and they should be paid and played as such. An interesting signing will be former Pro-Bowl LB Denzel Perryman who’s having a good season especially in run support and seems to have improved in coverage, but it’s still a weak spot. In the right scheme, Perryman is elite, otherwise he’s average. His payday will determine if he stays, anything under five million seems like a good fit and should keep him around. The Raiders have some trade options when it comes to players to be moved including Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow as the main two but I can’t see either being moved.
I do believe the Raiders need to end up moving on from defensive coordinator Patrick Graham to really try and fix their defense. There are numerous options currently available to replace him, as he’s seeing the Raiders defense rank 32nd overall, 32nd vs the pass, 32nd in sacks, 32nd in takeaways and 28th in pressures. His unit is 9th vs the run and 5th in missed tackles but it’s not going to really help him when they are on pace to have one of the worst defensive units in NFL history, for what seems like the 3rd time this decade. There are plenty of options to replace him but grabbing a coach who’s either already been a DC before or has elite level knowledge would be their best plan, names like Vic Fangio, Bills DL Coach Eric Washington, former Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, Steelers LB coach Brian Flores (who has history with Josh McDaniels from New England), Cowboys DB coach Joe Whitt, Rams DC Raheem Morris, or Saints DB coach Kris Ricahrds. Any of these will likely propel the Raiders defense initially
When it comes towards free agency, adding a starting RT, CB, LB and DT should be the immediate focus. Potential names could include Jack Conklin, Mike McGlincey, Jawaan Taylor, Elgton Jenkins, Isaiah Wynn, or George Fant. When it comes to corner it depends on how the Raiders want to address the position, they could focus on grabbing a couple depth guys or mid end starters and then draft their starter or straight sign someone which obviously affects some of the names they could target, not even including a potential scheme change. Some names I think would be good fits include Marcus Peters, Jonathan Jones, Emmanuel Mosley, Tre Flowers, Cameron Sutton, Jamel Dean, Sean Murphy-Bunting, and Amani Oruwariye. As for defensive tackle the main focus needs to be on adding pass rush, they currently have the tools to defend the run when it comes to Bilal Nichols, Andrew Billings, and rookie Neil Farrel. As for pass rushers potential names could include DaRon Payne, David Onyemata, Khalen Saunders, Greg Gaines, Larry Ogunjobi, Javon Hargrave, Dalvin Tomlinson, Dawuane Smoot, and Dre’Mont Jones. Finally, at LB there isn’t a huge free agent market and they need to consider cost effective options such as David Long, Germaine Pratt, Drue Tranquill, Anthony Walker, Azeeez Al-Shaair or Josh Bynes as a veteran option.
Now they also should consider adding depth at EDGE, WR, and safety but those are areas that they could afford to spend cheaply on and then address also in the draft. There’s a ton of names including Jakobi Meyers, Olamide Zaccheaus, Parris Campbell, Lorenzo Carter, Melvin Ingram, Oshane Ximines, Dante Fowler, Charles Omenihu, Nasir AAdderley, Juan Thornhill, Vonn Bell, and others. Obviously the Raiders draft plan is going to be planned around their free agency and there’s so many potential names for areas they could address. A couple of names in the first round that stand out include CBs Keelee Ringo and Cam Smith, DT Jalen Carter, EDGE Andre Carter, Isaiah Foskey, and Willer Anderson along with LB Trenton Simpson. There’s more options down the board also especially at their position of needs including at WR which I think they could end up addressing quickly.
The Raiders are projected to have between 11 and 14 draft picks this year for 2nd year GM Dave Ziegler, there’s a lot of options the Raiders will address and a lot that they need to. I have put together a roster that’s rather realistic and appropriate for their cap space, draft picks and mentality for the roster which is below:
HC: Josh McDaniels, | OC: Mick Lombardi | DC: Brian Flores
QB: Derek Carr
HB: Josh Jacobs (projected re-signing)
FB: Jakob Johnson (projected re-signing)
WR: Davante Adams
WR: Nelson Agholor (projected free agent signing, 1 year 4.5M)
SWR: Hunter Renfrow
TE: Darren Waller
LT: Kolton Miller
LG: Dylan Parham
C: Andre James
RG: Andrew Vorhees (rookie, 3rd round)
RT: Mike McGlinchey (projected free agent signing, 4 years 40M)
EDGE: Chandler Jones
DT: Jalen Carter (rookie, 1st round)
DT: Bilal Nichols
DT: David Onyemata (projected free agent signing, 2 years 8M)
EDGE: Maxx Crosby
EDGE: Charles Omenihu (projected free agent signing, 3 years 18M)
LB: Divine Deablo
LB: Germaine Pratt (projected free agent signing, 2 years 10M)
LB: Ivan Pace Jr (rookie, 4th round)
CB: Rock Ya-Sin (projected re-signing)
CB: Nate Hobbs
CB: Jonathan Jones (projected free agent signing, 3 years 24M)
CB: Tony Grimes Jr (rookie, 4th round)
FS: Trevon Moehrig
SS: JL Skinner (rookie, 2nd round)
The Raiders would compound their high draft pick to take a generational pass rush DT in Jalen Carter revamping their defensive front seven. They also grab starters in guard Andrew Vorhees, safety JL Skinner, linebacker Ivan Pace, and corner Tony Grimes with their other top picks. They don’t spend a large amount of money on starters but a fair bit with Mike McGlinchey and Jonathan Jones being the headliners. They help give the Raiders long term stability at RT and CB, an area of nagging weakness over history of the team. Pratt, Onyemata, Agholor really help the Raiders with some quality depth or starters at a good price. The interesting one comes with Charles Omenihu who might seem overpaid but he’s a strong pass rusher and gives the Raiders flexibility off the edge. The team can use the remainder of their picks including three fifth rounders to help build depth along the OL, WR, and pass rush and then their remaining sixth and two seventh rounders on flyers. They can also spend more money at safety, defensive tackle, and a backup TE among other things. Overall the Raiders really build a strong lineup that can compete instantly and puts up a strong roster for the future and now.