The Oakland Raiders have spent the last decade as a joke. From Chris Berman to Daniel Tosh its all laughs when the silver and black are being talked about. Even so-called NFL experts have bought into the idea that the Raiders are a toilet bowl team. NFL.com’s Elliot Harrison ranks the Oakland Raiders at number 31 on his power ranking’s list. That is right Raider Nation. Only able to out contend the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Of course Oakland has all but asked for the mockery that has become their reputation. Between Jamarcus Russell and Al’s antique projector the Raiders don’t exactly look professional.
But has Oakland earned the number 31 spot? In the middle of a rebuilding season most NFL experts would probably say yes. However, after what seems like (nobody knows until game day) a good draft and a hole filling free agency period can the Raiders breach the top 30?
Its going to be a long time until we figure out if the Raiders are going to be a 4 win team or a playoff contender. So lets look at what we know.
QB – According to Ian Rappaport, Reggie McKenzie has declared Matt Flynn the presumable starter. Of course this should really come to no surprise as the team has repeatedly showed their lack of faith in Pryor. However, if Flynn does not become the next Aaron Rodgers/Matt Schaub, rookie Tyler Wilson will be waiting for his chance. Out of the three upside filled quarterbacks I would expect to see one of them step up and lead the Raiders.
RB – Darren McFadden is in a make or break year. An injury this year would make it his last as a Raider. But with the power scheme back in town, McFadden has all the tools to succeed. Behind McFadden is veteran Rashad Jennings who showed his worth by running for close to 1000 yards while backing up Maurice Jones Drew. Also look for rookie Latavius Murray to make a name for himself.
FB – Maybe the most underrated player in the NFL, Marcel Reese, shows his athleticism more than 2chainzz says his own name. The former Washington receiver can do everything, and when he has the ball in open space its lethal. His thick figure, blazing speed, and sticky hands gives the Raiders a secret weapon.
WR – Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford are the two studs to look for in 2013. If both stay healthy Oakland’s offense will regain their vertical attack. Not to mention the developing Rod Streater who showed the ability of an undrafted free agent. Speaking of undrafted free agents remember high school phenom Sam McGuffie? He is now a Raider and looks to play a Wes Welker-like role.
OL – This is a weak spot for the offense. But the truth is, it’s not all that weak. If rookie coaches can juice the potential out of Menelik Watson (there is plenty of it) this line will be strong enough to compete. Both Jared Veldheer and Stefan Wisnewski are two of the better lineman in the league. In short, I can’t see this line falling below average in 2013. I will also add that rookie tight end Nick Kasa looks to help with run blocking. His 6’5 275 pound lineman body shouldn’t hurt anyways.
DL – This is the biggest area of concern for Oakland. The interior defensive line is currently relying on players like Pat Sims and Vance Walker. Players who I had never heard of prior to this off-season. Lamarr Houston and Andre Carter are keeping the end spots on lock, but how long before the injury bug bites. The only imaginable answer would be switching to a 3-4 defense. Utilizing the skill residing at the linebacker position.
LB – Reggie McKenzie really scored in this category. Miles Burris will be returning joined by Nick Roach, Kaluka Maiava, Kevin Burnett, and rookie Sio Moore. Personally I am very excited to watch Sio Moore get out on the field. This kid could prove to be a huge draft steal and provide the Raiders with a pass rush that is more needed than a Mark Davis haircut.
DB – Another area of big improvement for the Raiders. McKenzie once again revealed a sneak peek at his grand scheme by adding Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins. This gives good veteran leadership for rookie D.J. Hayden who looks to be an instant starter. Combined with the additions of Usama Young and the sound play of Tyvon Branch this is shaping up to be a very active defensive backfield.
In summary the Raiders have positive outlooks at running back, receiver, linebacker and defensive back. The questions in Oakland lie within the defensive line, while the quarter back and offensive line positions stand at about average.
Yet power rankings leave the Raiders at 31? At worst I see this as a 20 spot team. There is plenty for Raider fans to be hopeful for. Remember, anything can happen in the AFC West.
Comment where you think Oakland should stand in the NFL’s power rankings.