Monthly Archives: July 2014
Tight end has become an increasingly transitioning position in the NFL. Unfortunately, The Raiders have not had a dominate tight end since Zach Miller left a few seasons ago. They will need one as starting quarterback Matt Schaub utilized the tight end efficiently in Houston.
The talk of Jermichael Finley to the Raiders has settled down, but not due to the guys on the Roster. The Raiders currently have Mycheal Rivera who showcased a unique skill set last season. However, he has yet to showcase a consistent ability to be a consistent blocker necessary for the Raiders rushing attack.
Last season’s favorite, David Ausberry returns from injury hoping to finally piece it all together. Until now he has yet to prove himself as the starter.
Another name to keep an eye on is Nick Kasa. Last season’s rookie is relatively new to the position having played defense in College, so he can be a real darkhorse. However, with all the two tight end sets in the running game, Kasa can carve out a real niche.
Ausberry is my personal favorite, but who do you think will win?
Linebackers are no longer the prominent three down players they once were. With the use of more defensive backs and pass rushers the linebacker often gets lost in the shuffle.
Lucky for the Raiders, they have five starting caliber linebackers. The group should be the strength of the entire team after adding No. 5 pick Khalil Mack. Nick Roach played most of the Raiders snaps last season and should be more effective his second season playing middle line backer. Added, last season’s rookie sensation Sio Moore should also be pegged for another big season as a pass rusher and run stuffer.
Lost in the shuffle has been veteran Kevin Burnett. Burnett was the primary starter until the selection of Mack put him into a completion at either outside backer position. The veteran still offers value as a leader and pass rusher.
Miles Burris is also the dark horse of the group. Burris started as a rookie, but lost his last season due to injury. Burris should be in the mix as he possess a skill set and experience capable of playing inside or outside.
It is going to be very critical that the Raiders have their linebackers play at a high level. With the amount of solid quarterbacks and running backs on the Raiders’ schedule they will need the linebackers to be the strength of their defense.
This type of depth will be needed for the Raiders to be constant competetors. Each player can carve out a role as a pass rusher or in different downs, packages and situations. Plus linebackers have tremendous value on special teams as punt returns, kick off, kick return and etc.
Either way, the Raiders will need their linebackers to get better and develop chemistry headed into training camp
Without a dominate number one receiver, the Raiders need training camp to establish who will be their number one receiver. Veteran James Jones seems to be the favorite, well Rod Streater, the team’s incumbent leading receiver looks to break-out in only his third year. Combined with Denarrius Moore’s highlight reel play making ability, there should be a constant battle for playing time. Moore seems to have fallen out of favor with the team, but his ability to impact games could put him back into the limelight.
Also, last years’ mid-season star Andre Holmes should not be forgotten either as he caught more than 500 yards in only a season. Further, Cleveland Brown’s cast off Greg Little is another dark horse for some playing time.
In a passing league, you can never have enough receivers and competition among the top four receivers means the Raiders should successfully stretch the field with three and four receiver sets.
However, outside of those four, the competition gets even more difficult for the final one or two roster spots. Usually teams carry four to five receivers on their active roster, and may carry another one for a role on special teams.
Yet the Raiders will have tough cuts to make. Underrated receiver Mike Davis leads a group of undrafted free agents at the position. He played well at Texas and was a surprise free agent signing. He does have a combination of size and speed which make him a nice player for the future.
But the Raiders already have two developmental receivers on their roster. Juron Criner has the type of size you can not teach, and he has shown that in practice, but failed to do it on the field.
Brice Butler, last season’s late round selection, has also shown instances of potential. However, he too has yet to put a complete product on the field.
The thing about putting together a complete product on the field is, a player can not just run crisp routes and catch the ball. As constructed, the Raiders are set to pound the ball so it is just as critical for receivers to blcok. Further, without any star power a receiver can find plays in the screen, reverse, and trick play category. Moreover, the Raiders have a vacancy at punt and kick return which could emply any of the guys at the receiver position.