Almost as worthless as mock drafts are (draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. got only one draft pick right this year), spring and summer NFL season previews aren’t far behind. As with mock drafts though, we need and love them even though they may not mean as much as we’d like. Here is my preview for the upcoming 2013-14 NFL season for the Oakland Raiders
The top three quarterbacks for the Raiders have a total of 3 NFL starts. The Raiders will rely on Matt Flynn who has two of those starts. Flynn was beaten out at Seattle last year by Wisconsin rookie Russell Wilson. It still remains to be seen though if Flynn is a starting NFL QB. Terrelle Pryor will back him up with rookie Tyler Wilson bringing up the rear.
With no proven starting NFL QB, this is a huge question mark. If Flynn isn’t the answer, the Raiders are in trouble.
Darren McFadden is a really good running back when healthy. The problem is he’s never played more than 13 games in a season. For a team that has unproven QB’s and WR core, running the ball is going to be difficult. The Raiders struggled to score at times last year and had issues running the ball. Teams will almost dare the Raiders to pass and the RB’s could find rushing yards hard to find. Rashad Jennings was signed but he’s mostly a backup who has had his own injury issues. Marcel Reese is only 27 and is a stud at FB and needs to be utilized more in the offense.
McFadden and Reese are a nice duo, but after that it’s hard to get excited about Jennings. Sixth round pick Latavius Murray was a steal. Not many teams knew much about him but he’s big, has great hands and is a north south runner. The Central Florida star has already turned heads and will see some carries as well.
Denarius Moore is solid having a good second half of the season last year. Jacoby Ford has shed the walking boot but supposedly now has tweaked his hamstring which may or may not be a problem. When he’s on the field he’s a nice big play option but the last two years, he hasn’t been able to stay on the field. Darrius Heyward-Bey was never going to be a great WR and was a terrible draft choice and it’s addition by subtraction when he was not resigned. Rod Streater is a nice number 3 option.
The Raiders top 3 WR have to stay healthy for them to be effective.
The Raiders have serious issues here. With leading receiver Brandon Myers signing with the Giants, David Ausberry and Richard Gordon are the top tight end on the depth chart. Combined they have 12 total catches in their careers. Nick Kasa out of Colorado is a good blocker, but he has had only one good year catching the ball and this was last year with 25 catches.
Grade: D +
Nick Kasa will get a chance to start if he shines but in the passing game, this may be the worst TE core in the NFL.
The offensive line quietly didn’t have a bad season only allowing 27 sacks. Unfortunately they were only 28th in rushing offense and struggled to run the ball at times. Hopefully the Raiders can shore up the right tackle position and control the line of scrimmage more often. Second round pick Menelik Watson is a physical specimen who has a strong work ethic. He’s raw but has a lot of potential to possibly fill the tackle position.
I may be generous in this grade but I think the Raiders offensive line can be a good one especially if Watson can learn quickly.
The Raiders defensive line was abysmal at times last year ranking 31st in sacks with only 25. With Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour Desmond Bryant not being resigned, it’s going to be addition by subtraction. They didn’t do the job last year and the Raiders needed to move on. Lamarr Houston is the key returnee but the Raiders lack DL talent.
This has to be a huge focus in next years draft and sacks will be very hard to come by this year. With no pass rush the secondary will be in trouble. The Raiders will have to rely on the blitz a lot this year.
Raider fans will love third round draft pick Sio Moore. For his draft party, he told all of his friends and family to wear black hoping that the Raiders would pick him. Now that’s a Raider! At Connecticut, he played both the outside and inside LB positions. He’s an explosive playmaker and a good character guy who is a hard worker and a good leader. He played his best in the big games. Miles Burris did a nice job as a rookie and should be solid. Gone is the troubled Rolando McClain. The Raiders also had nice additions signing Nick Roach and Kevin Burnett.
I really like this group. For now they are the strength of the defense. If the Raiders can shore up their DL in the near futureand Burris and Moore can mature, you might have a really nice defensive front seven that can rush the passer, and stop the run.
Charles Woodsen is back for his swan song. Green Bay made him into a safety which Charles Woodsen was made to play. A tough tackler and ball hawk who should teach the DB’s well. D.J. Hayden has good hands and is another ball hawk and time will tell if he is the real deal. He played on a Houston team in a bad conference that gave up a lot of passing yards before his life threatening injury. I still think it wasn’t a good pick especially with so many DL issues. Mike Jenkins, Tracy Porter and Usama Young were signed and if they can stay healthy, should help with the depth of this unit. Unless the pass rush improves though, this group is going to have a long year.
Porter has a history of seizures that has kept him off the field at times. He had a severe concussion that also limited his time last year. Mike Jenkins play declined the last 2 years and he was phased out in Dallas. Hayden had recent surgery to rid him of scar tissue that was causing him a lot of pain. Lot’s of question marks in the secondary talent wise, and health wise.
Sebastian Janikowski will be solid at kicker, but Shane Lechler is gone. Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe was signed. He is famous for being outspoken on social issues and for last year covering the hall of fame patch on his jersey and putting “Vote Ray Guy” over it. He was fined for that by the league. Josh Cribbs won’t help much at WR but he brings an exciting element to the special teams.
The Raiders should have a fairly solid group on special teams.
Unfortunately I think Dennis Allen is on the hot seat. Already there are grumblings from the local media that Mark Davis doesn’t want another bad season, and another bad season seems likely. Having Greg Knapp at offensive coordinator last year was one of the most bizarre things I’ve seen in years and many were puzzled by it. It remains to be seen if Greg Olson is the answer at OC but Jason Tarver at defensive coordinator seems to be on the right track. Hiring Bob Saunders at linebacker coach was a good move.
Unfortunately with the 4 firings of the coaching staff, you hope that patience will prevail. I’d give this staff 2 more years as it is now, but Mark Davis may not be as giving.
There are few fan bases in sports who are as much fun and who are as passionate as Raider fans are. The fan base has changed a lot though with all of the losing. Old school fans almost cringe at the low level of expectations, and some young fans support any and every signing and draft pick as a good one predicting greatness and winning in the near future. Unfortunately they andAl Davis in the past 10 years have been wrong most of the time. The extreme denial over how bad the Raiders drafts really wereand how little talent they had has ended with Reggie McKenzie. For the Raiders sake it’s good that Reggie McKenzie isn’t in denial and he has rid the Raiders of those players.
McKenzie is trying to get the standards back to a high level and bring about responsibility to this losing franchise. The salary cap killed the Raiders so there was much work to do and he got it done. This is probably going to be another long year in Raider land but unlike the last 12 years, there is actually hope. The Raiders goals for the immediate future are to find out if Flynn is a starting QB, and if McFadden is in their long term plans. Next year defensive line help is a must do, and if Jacoby Ford can’t stay on the field, they need to go in a different direction.
Last years’ prediction 6-10; actual record 4-12
2013-14 prediction: 4-12
I feel this might be the least talented Raider team in a very long time. There are so many question marks that even the most positive of Raider fans will be hard pressed to think this is a good team. Some are saying it’s the least talented team in the NFL and they might be right. Cleaning house though was exactly what was needed. The Raiders are on the right track and I think if Flynn will be the answer at QB and with 2 more solid drafts, this team will be good again. I hope Mark Davis has the patience that Al Davis didn’t. The magical glory days in Oakland and the dominant winning ways of the Raiders will never be seen again, but hopefully at least a competitive team will. These great fans deserve nothing less.