How close are the Las Vegas Raiders to being a playoff team in 2020?
By Brad Weiss
The Las Vegas Raiders have been busy building up the roster for a playoff run in 2020, but how close are they really to being able to do that?
Mike Mayock took over as general manager for the Las Vegas Raiders, then in Oakland, on December 31, 2018. Since then, he has quickly helped revamp an organization that was in shambles, shedding terrible contracts, adding new talent, and helping lead the team to a three-win improvement in 2019.
During the 2019 offseason, there were some big swings, as they brought in incredible talent via the 2019 NFL Draft, but also some big misses, see the Antonio Brown saga. Overall, the Raiders are in a much better position on both their roster, and in terms of their draft assets heading into the 2020 NFL Draft, but are they ready to be a playoff team?
The 2020 Raiders have a lot of pieces to be excited about, as they have cultivated good young talent, and have made some strong moves in free agency. The defense was an issue last season, on all three levels really, but the two biggest weaknesses, linebacker and cornerback, are slowly starting to be corrected.
Linebacker will see a big improvement next season, as Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski are both guys who have had success at the NFL level. While Littleton is the bigger name, and can help cure the Raiders issues with linebackers in coverage, Kwiatkoski will be a big upgrade in the middle of this defense as well.
The secondary still needs help, but Johnathan Abram is coming back, and Jeff Heath was a nice addition at safety. Eli Apple will provide some veteran leadership, but this team needs cornerbacks, and that is likely going to be addressed in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Up front, Carl Nassib and Maliek Collins make an already improving defensive line that much better, so expect the Raiders to be able to control the line of scrimmage.
Offensively, there is still a need for a true WR1, but Nelson Agholor was a solid low-risk, high-reward signing to add to the position group. The offensive line is set, and the team has elite options at running back and tight end, so Derek Carr will be the X-factor once again heading into Year 7.
Looking at the roster as a whole, the Raiders have the talent in place to be at least a Wild Card team in 2020 in an NFL that is expanding the amount of playoff teams by one per conference. They still have to nail the draft, but the roster is coming along nicely.
The draft is going to be huge, as the team has the potential to add five of the best 91 players available this April. Mayock has done a tremendous job building up this roster since taking over in January of 2019, and if Carr can regain his 2016 form, this team is ready to be a playoff contender every year.