ESPN ranked the offensive weapons in the NFL and the Las Vegas Raiders were placed in the bottom 10 of the league despite their talent.
The Las Vegas Raiders focus this offseason was primarily on building up the defense but the team also chose to overhaul an offense that was top-10 in every major statistical category. Some of it was by choice as they moved on from 3 highly-paid offensive linemen but some of the change was forced as players like Nelson Agholor moved on to more lucrative opportunities.
ESPN analyst Bill Barnwell recently published a piece where he ranked the offensive weapons of all the teams in the NFL and had the Las Vegas Raiders ranked 22nd overall. This ranking was despite the additions of some experienced and talented players in John Brown and Kenyan Drake to an already talented group that includes Josh Jacobs, Darren Waller, and even Hunter Renfrow.
Barnwell’s reasoning for the lower ranking despite having Waller and Jacobs is due to the Raiders’ lack of “identity” at wide receiver which is a fair criticism. The Raiders under Jon Gruden have been on the hunt for a number one receiver and have tried every avenue to find their guy with mixed success.
Gruden’s best gambles have ironically been the low-risk ones of signing Waller off the Ravens practice squad and adding Agholor for near the veteran minimum in 2020.
The ranking puts the Raiders group behind the rest of the AFC West with the Chargers, Broncos, and Chiefs ranked 20th, 17th, and 6th respectively. The Raiders definitely have the best group of running backs and the second-best tight end but the perceived weakness at wide receiver is what is holding them back from moving up the rankings.
As Barnwell states, the Raiders’ potential move up “comes down to [the] first-rounders” in Jacobs and Henry Ruggs who were good in spurts but largely ineffective. Barnwell has mischaracterized the Drake signing as Gruden not trusting Jacobs but the move was mostly to keep the lead back healthy down the stretch.
The Ruggs criticism is fair but we should see an improvement from the second-year receiver even if he does not totally blow up statistically.
Other players like Bryan Edwards and Foster Moreau can help improve this ranking as well by giving the Raiders added versatility at receiver and a deadly 1-2 combination at tight end. Edwards is the primary wild card as he has the build and makeup of a traditional number one with his combination of size and speed.
Some Raiders fans might see this ranking and feel that it is unfair to the offensive unit but on further review, it is a fair assessment given all of the unknowns on the offense. If Henry Ruggs becomes Tyreek Hill 2.0 and Bryan Edwards starts bodying up defensive backs like Calvin Johnson then this could be a top-5 group of weapons but until we see improvement from them we will have to accept the criticism and skepticism coming from the national media.