The Oakland Raiders pulled the strings on some major deals this offseason, and their focus on the defense could be huge.
The Oakland Raiders have their eyes set on the AFC West in 2019 and Mike Mayock was a huge part of that. Mayock has brought elite offensive talent back to the West Coast through trades and the draft. Losing Kahlil Mack last year to the Bears seemed like a rough situation for the Raiders – which it was – but the players they gained through the draft are shaping up to be some of the best in the draft.
In recent years, the Indianapolis Colts have done a good job at drafting gems in the mid to late rounds, such as Darius Leonard who came out of nowhere and won Defensive Rookie of the Year honors and made the 2019 all-pro team while leading the NFL in tackles.
The Raiders took steps this year to become a dominant team, at least one to win out in the AFC West where competition is rife. The Chargers have been hungry for a title ever since the 14-2 season where New England knocked them out at home in the AFC Championship game.
Philip Rivers is aging and the team won’t stick with him for too much longer so the time is now for a title for that team. The Broncos are in a seemingly rebuilding phase, but their defense is still solid. Von Miller and J.J. Watt are my top picks for the best players in the NFL currently, and Miller is still dominant as one of the best pass-rushers in the game. The Chiefs are the team to beat in the AFC West right now, Patrick Mahomes is on fire and after getting kicked out of the AFC Championship game, that team is going to come back with a vengeance.
Travis Kelce and company are going to do just as good, if not better than last year.
Being as the Raiders offense finished in the bottom half of every category last year, the team decided to focus on offense in the offseason. They traded for Antonio Brown, pursued Le’Veon Bell but didn’t sign him, and signed Trent Brown, an above average to elite offensive tackle right now and an elite left tackle for only $16.5 million a year is almost robbery. Not to mention, bringing the winning mentality from a Super Bowl-winning team such as New England is invaluable.
At pick 24 the team addressed the running back situation with Josh Jacobs. Jacobs is an Alabama running back which means he has a snot-nose running style and won’t hesitate to run you over. Watching his tape, he reminded me of Adrian Peterson, or Brandon Jacobs, the former New York Giants running back.
It was clear that Marshawn Lynch was at the end of his career, and besides Jaylen, the running back situation is not looking good. Mayock and Gruden looked into the future and saw that a running back was needed so they got one, a good one at that.
Three picks later at 27 they drafted Johnathon Abram, a safety from Mississippi State. He’s not only a smart player but a hard-hitting one. He reminds me of a young Eric Berry: quick, fast, lucid, and focused. He follows the quarterback’s eyes and doesn’t deviate from where the ball is going to go. Being that the team was in the bottom 5 of nearly every category last year, the defense was important to focus on.
The Broncos don’t really have much on offense other than a halfway decent offensive line. Then to round it out, we all know the potential of the Chiefs with Kelce, Hill, Mahomes, and Damien Williams. Looking at the division they play in it makes sense why the defense was a priority this offseason.