Oakland Raiders: 2014 Positional Grades, Jack Del Rio Thoughts

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Dec 28, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton (98) before the start of the game against the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Plan

The Raiders are approaching another season with a boatload of cap space. Approximately 55 million at this point although it can be greatly expanded by some cuts. Just cutting Schaub and Woodley will increase the cap space to approximately 65 million. I also believe we will see Usama Young cut which will free up an additional 1.1 million and quite possibly Tyvon Branch which would free up another 3 million. all in all, the idea of 70 million in cap space for the Raiders is very real. For my estimations I will use the 65 million dollar number.

Firstly the Raiders need to address the trenches. Raider fans will want Suh, but I think Jack will want someone he knows. I anticipate getting Pot Roast Knighton on a team friendly deal. Approximately 7 million dollars. He is the same age as Suh, he is very disruptive and knows exactly what Jack wants. Next, the Raiders should pursue Jason Pierre-Paul. They have an in with Justin Tuck.

Six other names to watch out for are Brandon Graham, Jabal Sheard, Jared Odrick, Jerry Hughes, Derrick Morgan and Tyson Alualu, but those would be more of role players. I would anticipate a 4 year 40 million dollar deal. On the offensive line I want to see Rodney Hudson at center and Orlando Franklin to play right guard so Howard can go back to right tackle. These two should cost a combined 13 million per season.

When it comes to offensive weapons the Raiders need a full back, wide receiver, and tight end. Here Reggie has connections to Kuhn and Cobb, while Del Rio has connections to the two Thomas-es from Denver. Another name to watch out for is tight end Jermaine Gresham. I think the limit from these three needs is a combined 30 million.

Defensively the Raiders need a true middle linebacker. Brandon Spikes is ideal for this. Offering him around 6.5 million should do it. The Raiders may also may be in the market for a dual purpose safety which could be solved by Rahim Moore for a reasonable four million or less. My numbers may be running a little over, but that is fine. The Raiders can easily make up more cap space through cuts and they can also structure contracts in a way that limits the cap hit for the initial season and instead focuses on cash payments.

In the draft my top target is Leonard Williams. Cooper is a fine player, but I want as much young talent on this defensive line as I can get. He can play an elephant role on base downs (oversized 4-3 left end), and then move inside on pass rush situations. From there a top wide receiver in round two, pending needs an interior lineman or big mike linebacker in round three, a running back in round four, round five tight end Rory Anderson from South Carolina, and then best available player.

The Wrap

We have covered a ton of ground in this column, but that was my intention. It will be a busy next few weeks including coaching searches and everything else that will come with the draft. This is an exciting time for Raider Nation so embrace it and hang on tight, because the autumn wind is a pirate and now it is lead by a Raider, Captain Jack.