Nick Popio Aug 2nd, 2019
The 2018 season was a substantial disappointment in Jon Gruden’s return to the Silver & Black. They stumbled to a 4-12 mark with a few brights spots in an otherwise dismal campaign. Now the calendar has turned and 2019 is a chance to make up for all the wrongs made at the beginning of Gruden’s second tenure as the head man. It also appears to be the final goodbye in Oakland with the move to Las Vegas looming in 2020.
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Oakland experienced a turbulent offseason with a significant trade and several acquisitions to round out this year’s squad. Antonio Brown was the biggest prize of them all. He is arguably the best receiver in the league and the Raiders basically stole him from Pittsburgh depending on who you ask. Brown possesses the work ethic to play at an MVP level if used correctly in the offense.
Also of note, Oakland lost Jordy Nelson to retirement and Jared Cook in free agency. They were two of the leaders on the team that performed on opposite ends of the spectrum respectively. Marshawn Lynch retired again, but first-round pick Josh Jacobs gets the shot to take his place as the lead back in Gruden’s run it down your throat attack.
Offensively Derek Carr has a wealth of new weapons to use. Along with Brown and Jacobs, the Raiders added Tyrell Williams, Isaiah Crowell, Trent Brown, Richie Incognito, Hunter Renfrow and more. Left tackle Kolton Miller is entering year two and seeks to live up to the expectations that the organization saw in him by selecting him early in the 2018 draft. Carr, on the other hand, maybe in a make or break year. He will have an ample amount of talent to try to get him back to his 2016 form when he excelled as an MVP candidate.
Clelin Ferrell and Johnathan Abram are two physical rookies that are expected to start right away. They fit in well with what defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s is seeking for on the other side of the ball. Vontaze Burfict moves on from Cincinnati to help spearhead his old coordinator’s defense. He joins Brandon Marshall and LaMarcus Joyner as other newbies to the re-shuffled Oakland D. Look for youngsters Gareon Conley, Arden Key Maurice Hurst, and Trayvon Mullen to be counted on to take the next step so the defense can play at a consistent level all season.
On special teams, the Raiders bring back core return ace Dwayne Harris. Kicker Daniel Carlson finished 2018 with the Silver & Black after getting drafted by Minnesota. He only missed one field goal after changing teams and was 100% on extra points. Punter Johnny Townsend hopes to rebound with a better sophomore campaign after an up and down rookie debut.
53 Man Roster Predictions
Quarterbacks (3): Derek Carr, Mike Glennon, Nathan Peterman
This is a position where they should seek to sign a veteran released from another team if Peterman doesn’t work out for them. Glennon has what it takes to be a capable backup, but an upgrade would be ideal if anything happens to Carr.
Running Backs (5): Isaiah Crowell, Joshua Jacobs, Jalen Richard, Doug Martin, Keith Smith
If Keith Smith is not ready for the start of the season then look for the Raiders to see what fullbacks are available on the open market. Martin may likely be on the cusp of the cut list if the team goes with only three running backs on the roster.
Wide Receivers (6): Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, Hunter Renfrow, JJ Nelson, Ryan Grant, Dwayne Harris
The receivers seem to be set, but there is always room for a surprise or two. The best-case scenario would be for a third wideout to step up and help ease the burdens on Brown and Williams respectively.
Tight Ends (3): Luke Willson, Darren Waller, Foster Moreau
This is another position that could get upgraded through a veteran who gets released to free agency. Gruden reportedly loves Waller, but Moreau will have a great chance to be the future after being drafted in April.
Offensive Line (9 ): Kolton Miller, Richie Incognito, Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson, Trent Brown, Justin Murray, Denver Kirkland, Brandon Parker, Denzelle Good
The reserve lineman may get shuffled around depending on who becomes available and injuries as well. Brown is a solid signing because he can fill in at a pinch at left tackle if Miller doesn’t do what the Raiders expect him to do.
Defensive Ends (4): Clelin Ferrell, Arden Key, Josh Mauro, Maxx Crosby
If a surprise defensive end gets the ax, then it would be fair to say that the Raiders go after them at the right price. Otherwise, keep an eye on Crosby and 7th round selection-Quinton Bell. He screams of a practice squad type player who will scratch and claw to earn a call-up.
Defensive Tackles(4): Maurice Hurst, Johnathan Hankins, Justin Ellis, P.J. Hall
The Raiders have four guys who can start at this position on almost any club in the league. 2017 third-round draft pick Eddie Vanderdoes looks like the odd man out after two non-existent campaigns.
Linebackers (7): Vontaze Burfict, Brandon Marshall, Tahir Whitehead, Jason Cabinda, Te’von Coney, Marquel Lee, Nicholas Morrow
A lot of bodies to work with here. They can probably go a different direction with one or two of these guys if they want to. Burfict can be a menace on the second level of the defense when he shows that nasty side in him.
Cornerbacks (5): Gareon Conley, Nevin Lawson, Daryl Worley, Trayvon Mullen, Isaiah Johnson
Conley appears to be on track to stardom. As for the second starting spot, it will have to be earned in the preseason. Worley is obviously ahead of Mullen, but Oakland made it a priority to land Mullen in their defensive scheme. 2018 draftee Nick Nelson will be in a fight for a roster spot as well.
Safeties (4): Lamarcus Joyner, Karl Joseph, Johnathan Abram, Erik Harris
Karl Joseph has been on the trade block before and will likely be again if he lasts the entire season with Oakland. That’s why Abram and Joyner are certain locks to be the last line of defense for the Raiders.
Kicker (1): Daniel Carlson
Punter (1): Johnny Townsend
Long Snapper (1): Trent Sieg or Andrew DePaola
Carlson earned the job last season and hopes to keep it that way. Townsend, on the hand, can be replaced by A.J. Cole or a possible vet. Marquette King‘s name has been tossed around but those chances remain at slim or no chance to resign him.
Throw in HBO’s Hard Knocks and 2019 is going to be a season that Raider Nation will not soon forget. For the complete equation to work out for the Raiders, they will have to stay healthy and exceed everybody’s expectations on the field. The club’s mentality has already forgotten the past and is working towards a very successful future on its way to becoming the Las Vegas Raiders.
The schedule is beyond rough. They will have to battle through one of the toughest divisions in football. Plus away games at Minnesota, Indianapolis, Green Bay, Houston and Chicago in London. That doesn’t bode well for a recipe of success in year two of Jon Gruden.
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