Whereas Gruden will name the performs, Greg Olson returns as his offensive coordinator. Oakland’s base Four-Three protection will transition below former Bengals coordinator Paul Guenther.
Derek Carr has the smarts and pure West Coast passing attributes to rebound from a down 2017 season, however the quarterback will want to regulate to his new supporting solid after an enormous shake-up. Khalil Mack additionally fell just a little final season from his Defensive Participant of the 12 months and All-Professional stage. With a remade again seven and a bolstered line rotation, Oakland’s purpose will likely be placing Mack in higher positions to provide.
Right here is a deeper dive into the Black Gap to look at what the important thing adjustments on the depth chart imply for the Raiders’ 2018 outlook.
Final season, Marshawn Lynch defied his age (now 32) and have become a brilliant spot in a disappointing yr for Oakland’s offense. However there’s already a way that Gruden and Olson do not wish to lean closely on Beast Mode this season. Former Buccaneer Doug Martin was signed to present them a barely youthful and extra versatile choice for early downs.
Martin has gone from a roster flyer in Tampa to a viable different for Oakland; his expertise in each the operating and passing video games mesh higher along with his new group. The Raiders have been predictable with Lynch on energy downs, then speedsters Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington as the change-of-pace backs on third downs. If his burst and receiving pop return, Martin can earn key touches.
Regardless, Lynch will stay the chief of Oakland’s dashing assault. His laborious operating and his angle are certain to please Gruden and permeate by the remainder of the group.
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Raiders nonetheless taking part in in a dump
The Raiders parted methods with Michael Crabtree and Cordarrelle Patterson; they introduced in Jordy Nelson, Martavis Bryant and Ryan Switzer. Amari Cooper is coming off a down season, however he will likely be the clear-cut No. 1 receiver for the primary time in his profession and will likely be handled as such by the brand new teaching workers.
Trickling down from Cooper and his further targets, how the Raiders use Nelson and Bryant will likely be attention-grabbing to observe. Nelson is 33 and would not have the home-run velocity he as soon as had, however he can nonetheless seize bounce balls in scoring place. Bryant has each the scale to be a red-zone monster and the velocity to be a downfield playmaker, however he must maintain his head on straight so as to get alternatives to point out off his expertise.
It will take advantage of sense for Oakland to make use of Nelson as a Saints-style “massive slot” receiver, with Bryant lining up outdoors reverse Cooper in frequent three-wide units. Nelson was good on inside routes two years in the past, and for the betterment of Carr and the opposite wideouts, it is time for the previous Packer to remain within the slot full-time.
Switzer will take over Patterson’s position as the first return man, however he won’t see common work within the offense. The identical goes for former No. Three wideout Seth Roberts, who will likely be on the roster bubble come coaching camp. The Raiders’ final receiver spot doubtless will come right down to third-year speedster Johnny Holton or rookie seventh-round possession man Marcel Ateman.
The inside of Oakland’s line stays intact with guards Kelechi Osemele and Gabe Jackson and heart Rodney Hudson. At left deal with, Donald Penn is 35 and coming off a significant foot (Lisfranc) harm; it was sufficient of a priority for the Raiders to draft UCLA’s Kolton Miller within the first spherical.
If Penn can get again to type or near it, then the Raiders will get a significant improve with Miller taking part in proper deal with. If not, and if the rookie has to play left deal with, the appropriate facet will likely be weak. David Sharpe and rookie third-rounder Brandon Parker would battle for the job.
Both method, the Raiders want Miller to be able to play.
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Line of defense
Alongside Mack on the road are the identical starters in finish Mario Edwards Jr. and tackles Eddie Vanderdoes and Justin Ellis. Gone from the depth chart behind them, although, are Denico Autry and Jihad Ward. Three rookies — tackles P.J. Corridor and Maurice Hurst and finish Arden Key — have joined the group, and former 49ers finish Tank Carradine was signed for further assist in opposition to the run.
So as to make up for an anemic four-man cross rush past Mack final season, the Raiders usually blitzed further males. Guenther’s strategy will likely be completely different; he’ll ship completely different mixtures of 4 males and attempt to create extra one-on-one conditions for Mack.
Ellis is good at stopping the run and can keep devoted to that job. Guenther would not have a Geno Atkins in Oakland like he did in Cincinnati, so he’ll hope to faucet into a few of Vanderdoes’ pass-rush upside. The coordinator additionally will attempt to get to the QB situationally with Corridor and/or Key, relying on how nicely and the way shortly they develop.
One factor is for certain: With “Double A Hole” rules and emphasis on inside stress, the Raiders’ entrance 4 will likely be a lot extra energetic in making an attempt to disrupt cross performs to match how nicely they’ll defend the run.
Bruce Irvin stays Oakland’s starter on the robust facet, however Cory James (minimize) and NaVorro Bowman (not re-signed) are gone. The Raiders changed them first with their prime free-agent addition in former Lion Tahir Whitehead after which with former Chief Derrick Johnson. To help in the transition to Guenther’s scheme, Oakland additionally added former Bengal and Viking Emmanuel Lamur.
Whitehead performed the weak facet in Detroit, and Johnson was a Three-Four inside fixture in Kansas Metropolis. However as a result of Whitehead is such an energetic run defender and good blitzer, he’s finest within the center. Johnson, nonetheless a “Will” at coronary heart, could make performs in protection with fewer upfield assignments.
Whitehead is an improve from James, and Johnson is a drop-off from Bowman. Guenther will make the most of their expertise and put them in spots to make performs.
Now that they’ve moved on from the disappointing duo of David Amerson and Sean Smith, the Raiders needs to be enthusiastic about their new starters. Gareon Conley, final yr’s first-rounder, flashed sufficient dynamic athleticism for Oakland to suppose he can emerge as a playmaker. Former Colt Rashaan Melvin had some stretches of shutdown play final season. The 2 mesh nicely as completely different sorts of cowl males by way of dimension and velocity.
The participant who will likely be robust for Oakland to change, nevertheless, is T.J. Carrie, one of many sport’s finest slot corners who cashed in with the Browns as a free agent. The Raiders’ finest choice on the place now is Shareece Wright (31), adopted by Leon Corridor (33). Rookie Nick Nelson is coming off a pre-draft knee harm and sure will not be within the combine. Younger veterans Dexter McDonald and Darryl Worley could be a lot greater liabilities than Wright is likely to be.
General, the Raiders will likely be a lot improved outdoors, however additionally they will likely be far more weak in opposition to inside routes.
Reggie Nelson, who will flip 35 through the season, was re-signed to begin at free security as a result of he was a Professional Bowler in 2016 and has a very good historical past of success with Guenther. The coordinator will belief Nelson to assist Conley and Melvin.
Newcomer Marcus Gilchrist will not push Nelson, however he would possibly push robust security Karl Joseph. Obi Melifonwu, in the meantime, has confronted a longer-than-expected restoration from a season-ending hip harm.
Joseph is an efficient run defender and an asset within the cross rush, however he has been dangerous in protection. Gilchrist is extra well-rounded however doesn’t have a lot upside. Joseph ought to have the option maintain his floor with Gilchrist being a worthwhile backup, however the starter will likely be pushed to spherical out his sport in his third season after being a excessive first-round decide.