On June 15, the Warriors will parade their newest NBA Championship for their fans in the Bay. While they sport the name Golden State and rock the Golden Gate bridge, the Warriors play in Oracle which is in Oakland. Let’s not forget that.
Still, Oakland is about to lose the Warriors and the Raiders in a span of a few years. The Warriors are headed to San Francisco while the Raiders are headed to Las Vegas. Considering Oakland has a history as a strong sports town and a hub for social movements, this city deserves as many championships as possible.
Already, the Oakland Raiders are talking about being inspired by their neighbors dominating season. Now, it is time for the Silver and Black to deliver a title.
Over the past few seasons, Raider Nation has supported the Raiders threw quarterbacks like Jamarcus Russell and Aaron Brooks as well as head coaches like Lane Kiffin and Tom Cable. Despite the poor football product, Raiders fans showed up.
The same applies for Warriors fans. They supported the teams through the Monta Ellis and Adonal Foyle eras. Now, they get a team that projects to dominate over the next few seasons. Golden State can continue winning championships before the franchise moves across the Bay.
As for the Raiders, they are also young enough to contend over the next few seasons. Thus, the Silver and Black need to bring a championship to Oakland before they bounce for Vegas.
Oakland is a blue-collar town that is reflected in the culture and colors of the Raiders. No matter where the team plays, they will always embody a piece of Oakland. Hence, the Raiders need to bring another Super Bowl trophy to the Bay. The Raiders must double-down on the Warriors’ championships.
Who knows, maybe the Raiders can win two Super Bowls in three years like the Warriors did? Or maybe they can win three in a row. Either way, one Super Bowl would be great for the city that has supported its sports teams through thick and thin.
Detailing my experience as Raiders Fan since the NFL returned via the Rams and Chargers: How has your experienced changed?
It’s a chilly October night. A friend invites me to an impromptu Clippers game. I find whatever jacket is in my trunk, and it is my favorite Raiders pullover.
Of course, I’m never afraid to wear my Raiders gear anywhere. Except for this time, it’s different. The Raiders are off to their hottest start in more than a decade. All of a sudden everyone is very receptive to my Silver and Black pride.
Instead of getting sarcastic remarks that trivialize my fanhood and test my patience, I find support. All of a sudden everyone respects the Silver and Black. Is this a product of their success? Does winning solve everything? OR are Angelinos paying attention to the NFL again due to the return of the L.A. Rams?
Los Angeles Raiders fans are an interesting bunch. The aren’t afraid to take short flights or long drives to support their team in the Bay. They tell legends of Super Bowls. They acknowledge the number of open seats leading up to the Raiders return to the Bay.
Even L.A. Raiders players like Marcus Allen and Howie Long will remind you that they spent their careers in Southern California and not Oakland. Either way, we are all members of the Silver and Black… Right?
You can find Twitter accounts and Facebook accounts dedicated to fans of the L.A. Raiders. For good reason, the team called this place home for 12 seasons. Fans supported them through good and bad.
This specific geographic designation created a divide in Raider Nation, especially when the Raiders quest for a new kingdom almost brought them back to Los Angeles via a joint proposal with the Chargers in Carson.
Even as the L.A. Raiders return died with the return of the Rams and Chargers, this subgroup continues to exist. What does it mean to be a fan of the most successful Los Angeles NFL team, while two other teams try to establish roots in the Nation’s second largest market? Why did ratings for Raiders game surpass those of the newly returned Rams, despite occuring at the same date and time?
It is January 2016 and the Rams are officially returning. I patrol the shops of the mall trying to find some new Raiders gear. Cowboys, Patriots, Seahawks and other popular teams’ gear are replaced with the Gold and Blue Rams gear. The struggle to find fresh Raiders gear at retailers persists, despite their upward success and popularity.
I’ve been going to the same gym for years. Now, I’m seeing more Raiders hats and tee-shirts. Are people getting more pride since the NFL is gaining popularity in my home? Am I becoming hyper-aware of casual fans since my team is finally entering the mainstream again? Am I policing bandwagon fans because I’ve been an active member of this culture since we were horrible?
It’s April 2017 and I’m enjoying Coachella 2017. Of course, I’m wearing a Raiders hat to protect myself from the sun and conceal my sweaty hair. It also matches my Raiders tank. People walk up to me and tell me it’s a dope hat.
“Go Raiders!” Strangers say.
“Raiders, baby,” they said.
My first instict is to challenge their fanhood. Sure, you’re a Raiders fan. I notice their crisp Derek Carr, Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper jerseys. They proceed to tell me how they’ve been a Raiders fan for years.
Where were you when we were 4-12? Where were you when people were telling me they hate the Raiders.
Only two years before at the same music festival, people said, “Raiders suck!”
Now, Raiders gear is the most popular. Surpassing the gold, yellow and blue of the Chargers and Rams?
Although I’ll be the first to admit the Raiders Mecca will always be in Oakland, that doesn’t mean Los Angeles is not the second home of Raider Nation. Maybe, this is because I never saw the Silver and Black patrolling the green of the Coliseum.
Either way, I’ve certainly noticed a difference in what it means to be a Raiders fan over the past two seasons. Do I attribute this to the success of the team in recent seasons or the increased presence of the NFL in Los Angeles?
At least until the stadium opens in Las Vegas, L.A. is the second most concentrated place of Raiders fans in the nation. What does it mean to be a Raider fan in Los Angeles since the NFL is back and the Silver and Black are as good as ever?
Let me know what it means to be a Raiders fan in Los Angeles in 2017 via Twitter or shoot me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Raiders finally have a real shot at beating the Patriots this season. The two AFC juggernauts face off in Mexico this year.
Considering the Patriots still have the G.O.A.Ts at quarterback and coach (sarcastic), New England should be the favorite. However, the Raiders have a real shot at beating everyone’s most hated dynasty during this regular season.
Last week, a Fox Sports show went viral by saying that and much more. The video said that the Raiders could be the team to end the Patriots’ dynasty since their dynasty began after the controversial 2001 “Tuck Rule” game.
We all remember the fallout from that game. Jon Gruden went to Tampa Bay and took our playbooks with him. With the exception of that horrible Super Bowl loss that included our center going M.I.A., we struggled to find a franchise quarterback. Our team served 14 years as the laughing stock of the league. Meanwhile, the Patriots ascended to football greatness.
Now, the Raiders have finally built a real foundation for a Super Bowl contender. They actually have a real chance to break the curse and switch the projections of the two organizations.
The Patriots aren’t a slouch this season. Besides Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, the Patriots will field a wealth of bargain assets that they obtained this offseason. Somehow, the rich got richer. New England added Brandin Cooks, Dwayne Allen, Stephon Gilmore and Kony Ealy via free agency and trades.
So how can the Raiders end the Patriots dynasty?
Start the Carr
The Raiders will only go as far as Derek Carr takes them. We saw that last season when he went down with a leg injury. We witnessed close games that we lost cause Carr couldn’t bring us back.
Last season, Carr gained some hype in the MVP conversation. Now, he must ascend that by dethroning Tom Brady in the regular season. He’s going to have to go to a neutral site and show his teammates that he is not afraid of the greatness of the Raiders.
Win or lose, Carr must play well and he must not quit. If he wants to be mentioned as one of the greats, it starts by beating one of the greatest teams ever.
Defense Wins Champions
You hear that damn cliche every year but it is true. The Raiders will need their defense to beat the Patriots, let alone win a Championship.
It won’t be easy. The Raiders struggle covering tight ends and the Patriots have two of them. Oakland’s big corners also struggle covering small and agile receivers. New England has a slew of those at receiver and running back.
Luckily, the Raiders have defensive coaches with real experience. Starting from the top, guys like Reggie McKenzie, Jack Del Rio, Ken Norton Jr., and many more have experience playing in the league. They understand what it takes to build a real NFL defense. It is time for them to do that considering they’ve made heavy investments during free agency and the NFL Draft over the past two offseasons.
Do it in the postseason
There will be a lot of hype surrounding the Raiders’ prime time showdown with the Patriots during the regular season. Regardless, the Raiders must do it in the postseason to pose a real threat to the evil empire.
No matter what happens during the regular season, the Raiders will probably face New England in the postseason. To be the best, the Raiders got to beat the best. This is the only way the Raiders can fulfill their Super Bowl dreams.
Hopefully, they can go into New England and reverse the curse. Ideally, Oakland will go in there and reclaim the title as America’s most hated team. This will help Oakland gain the confidence they need to win a title and begin a dynasty. Meanwhile, our friends in Navy and Silver can go back to wherever they were before 1998.
It’s finally here! It seems like I say that every year. Well, every year I’m excited for the NFL Draft. Dreams are made, fans hopes are up and many hearts get broken. Sounds pretty exciting, if you ask me.
Who will our precious Silver and Black select? Here are some ideas as well as my selection.
The Fans’ Pick: Obi Melifonwu, S, UCONN
All the fans love this pick. For good reason too. Melifonwu is the kind of prospect who Al Davis will turn in his grave for. The big-bodied and fast safety made a name for him self at the NFL Combine and Senior Bowl. Melifonwu Los has experience as a productive corner and safety at UCONN. He could develop into Reggie Nelson’s eventual replacement. The only issue with this pick is that the safety class is so deep. The Raiders could get a guy just as capable in the second round.
The Dark Horse: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
You never want to reach for a need in the NFL Draft. However, Robinson has an argument to be the best tackle in this class. He has big game experience that dates back to his days at Bama. Robinson has the size and athleticism to be the long-term answer at either of the Raiders’ tackle spots. Ultimately, there are some questions about his ability to finish run blacks and his balance/technique in pass pro. Luckily, the Raiders have some veterans at the position to help groom Robinson. Personally, I think Robinson is a better value in round two. Nonetheless, Mike Mayock pegged him here.
Draft Crush: Kevin King, CB, Washington
Everytime we play the Chiefs, I believe that Marcus Peters should be a Raider. His play style and swagger would have fit perfect with Oakland. Now, King isn’t quite the same player as Peters. However, he is a big and fast corner from the Bay Area. King played safety and corner at Washington so he brings the versatility that the Raiders need. He should immediately challenge for the nickel corner position. King might even challenge David Amerson and Sean Smith for starting roles on the outside. King has the size and ball skills to develop into the Raiders eventual starter on the outside. He might not be available at No. 24, but it would be really hard for the Raiders to pass on the Bay Area kid.
The Gamble: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
Draft experts have nothing bad to say about Foster’s tape out of Alabama. However, he could fall to the Raiders due to off-field concerns. Foster had an incident that got him sent home from the NFL Combine. He also tested positive at the Combine. Then, he’s got size and injury concerns. Plus, Oakland is still haunted by the demons of another former Bama linebacker taken in the first round, Rolando McClain. I say no but the Raiders may roll the dice.
The Al Davis Pick: John Ross, WR, Washington
Questions about his size, ankle, knee and shouler health could make Ross tumble in the draft. You think Al Davis would care about any of that? Ross broke the NFL Combine record for the 40-yard dash with a sub-4.3 40-time. Not to mention, he was highly productive at Washington. Ross’ route tree is extensive, his hands are good and he is Cali-native. Al Davis would make this pick despite the Raiders’ receiving corps already being among the NFL’s best.
The Safe Pick: Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida
Davis has been another popular target for the Raiders in various Mock Drafts. There are a lot of good reasons. Davis was productive at Florida and he tested well at the combine. He projects as an outside or middle linebacker in the NFL, despite his limited size. Oakland would sure up their middle linebacker spot with a rangy backer. However, I’m not sold on taking a MLB this early unless you think he can change your defense. Davis will be a solid starter but I don’t know if he is a future Pro Bowler. I’d roll the dice on him in the second round, especially given his injury history.
My Pick: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
Early in the draft process, I was high on the Raiders selecting Davis. Cunningham’s scheme fit, speed and hands had me questioning his fit with Oakland. Then, I remember that the Raiders defense has not been good enough to establish a scheme. There scheme is flexible for the players that they select. Moreover, Jack Del Rio and Reggie McKenzie have both put empathisis on selecting impact players. Cunningham was a productive, impact player in the SEC. he has the size and frame to play a variety of positions in the front seven. Moreover, he is ready to start from Day One. This pick makes too much sense. BR’s Matt Miller also consigned this pick in his latest mock draft.
Ultimately, we will find out who the Raiders select at about 8:00 p.m. PST tonight. Who do you think they should select? I know I can’t wait to welcome the newest member of the Silver and Black.
The Oakland Raiders officially announced that they are relocating to Las Vegas. NFL Owners agreed on the proposal via a 31-1 vote. .
It’s stunning considering the Owners rarely agree on anything with that much conviction. The Miami Dolphins were the one team to vote no for whatever reason.
Clearly, the proposed $750 million in approved public funds had an influence on the decision. That is a lot of free money from a market, especially when you consider the East Bay was not putting any public funds out there.
However, this is devastating for a community that embodies the Raiders’ mystique. The two are a perfect match due to the social and civil rights hisory of Oakland as well as the trailblazing, renegade culture of the Raiders. That community needs the team to give the hope. To inspire the community. To work with the kids and reach out to the Oakland community.
As for Vegas, some fans have reasons to be excited. Las Vegas is fun and new. More importantly, the Raiders are getting the shiny new stadium that they’ve wanted for decades.
However, there are some major flaws in this whole ordeal. Does it really make sense that the Raiders would leave a top-5 market for a top-40 market? Not to mention, the Raiders need to take out lots of loans just to make this happen.
Then you factor in Vegas’ legal prostitution and gambling. Is this really an environment for a winning football team? Does the NFL want their brand associated with a city based on the very things that they disapprove.
From a fans’ perspective, do you really want to tailgate in 100 degree weather? Would you rather be among drunken idiots at a football game when you can be around beautiful women at a party? Plus, are fans going to be priced out of the stadium by rich tourists?
Overall, this Vegas relocation creates a ton of questions… Like the financing. The Raiders are relying on loans from Bank of America and the NFL to make this happen. How can this team afford to pay more money in relocation fees and leave added money from the NFL? All because of their quest to leave Oakland?
I get that the Davis Family has wanted a stadium for decades. I get that he has that in Vegas, but should it be at the expense of Oakland?
The fans have supported him through thick and thin. Why should the NFL ignore the wants of their fan base for the third time in 15 months. It is even more disgusting when you factor in all the investment money that is happening in the Bay.
Why can’t the Raiders get those funds? Guess, the City will have to settle for a baseball stand and some condos. Does gentrification win again?
Ultimately, the Raiders’ relocation to Oakland raises more questions than answers. One thing is for sure, the move to Vegas is happening. It’s about the one thing we know for sure. They still got to work out the details on a lease, but it is happening if we like it or not.
For now, it is a time for us to mourn. Oakland will always be the Mecca for Raider Nation, and it is sad that the team is leaving that.
Regardless, Raiders fans will endure. We always endure. We’ll go to and celebrate Las Vegas. It won’t be the same, but we’ll make it happen.
It’s a risky move that could pay off or flop horribly. At the end of the day, what else do we expect from Vegas or the Raiders?
Just Sin Baby!
The Oakland Raiders finally made some Free Agency moves after what seemed like an endless first few day of the new NFL year.
Most recently, Oakland adds kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson. The two-time All-Pro brings the gamechanging and consistent return ability that this team has lacked for years.
More importantly, it is a two-year deal with a team option for the second year. Reggie McKenzie strikes again with a bargain free agent.
Besides the return game, Patterson could have ability to challenge Seth Roberts in the slot receiver position. First, Patterson will need to work on his concentratrion on catches and refine his route tree.
At the very least, Patterson brings the 4.42 speed that late owner Al Davis would’ve have drooled on. Thus, Patterson can serve as a fourth receiver to stretch the field via vertical passes. Essentially, this assumes Andre Holmes’ role in the offense over the past two seasons.
Patterson is also a former Tennessee Volunteer which RM loves.
Not to mention, the Raiders signed Marshall Newhouse over the weekend. He wasn’t a highly coveted free agent but he is a solid depth veteran on a cheap contract. Apparently, McKenzie helped evaluate Newhouse when he was in Green Bay.
Either way, I’d expect the Raiders to add a tackle in the draft since Menelik Watson bounced. Oakland needs help as Donald Penn is aging and Austin Howard has been inconsistence.
Speaking of players leaving, Malcolm Smith, D.J. Hayden, Stacy McGee and Nate Allen are among key players not returning to the team. Those guys all played hard for the Silver and Black, so I wish them luck.
All of those players can easily be upgraded, but it should be noted that teams wasted no time signing them. Clearly, they saw something that the Raiders did when they added them.
Hayden might actually do well with the Detroit Lions. He’ll have way less pressure there. Meanwhile, McGee and Watson will have to live up to their new starting expectations. Khalil Mack should be happy that Watson is in Denver now. That should equal more sacks.
As for Allen and Smith, neither lived up to the 2015 free agency hype. However, they were both constant pros who made plays at times. Not to mention, they helped change the Raiders’ losing culture. Hopefully, they can pull it together and remain solid NFL players.
Moving forward, the Raiders still have massive needs in the middle of their defense. Key targets like Dontari Poe and Johnathan Hankins should be on the Raiders’ priority list. Especially when you consider this DT draft class is not as good as last year.
At middle linebacker, this draft class is deep. The Raiders could draft a player here in the top of they draft. Either way, they should still add a savy veteran. Luckily, Donta Hightower, Perry Riley and Zachary Brown are all available. They’re the top players at the position. They have a ton of experience and they are all on the right side of 30. Considering all three are available, Oakland should be able to get whichever one they want. I’d expect Riley is the first priority since he joined the team last year. Then again, wouldn’t they have already signed him?
Nonetheless, stay posted for more Raiders free agency updates.
Raider Nation should be stoked that Free Agency begins next week. Our team finally has the cap space and winning culture to sign almost anyone that we want. However, remember that there are levels to attacking free agency. Check out some quick hits on free agents that the Raiders should consider.
Too Good to Get
This group of guys would be awesome, but they’re probably worth more than the Raiders would pay. they were each connected to rumors about getting the franchise tag, so their team should look to re-sign them. Then again, the Raiders are off their first playoff season in more than a decade. Could marquee players finally give us discounts? Guess we will find out.
These are the guys that fit the team need. They should be in the Raiders price range. Can Oakland make it happen for our Super Bowl Run?
These guys are great fits too. They don’t have the same name or production as anyone above, but they are more cost efficient. That is what Reggie McKenzie likes anyways.
If we have to give the money to someone or we must fill a roster need, then these are the guys you call. They have a different combination of question marks including age, price, scheme-fit and injuries. However, they might be worth a gamble if they are available late in the process.
Guys to Stay away from
I made an entire post for them. These are the guys who don’t make sense for our team and culture. They can leak anonymous connections to our franchise or have their agents call us, but we should probably not return that call. Check out the full list here:
Did I forget anybody? Let me know via Twitter.
*This list was composed via NFLTradeRumors.co’s Top-100 Free Agents list
Free Agency is finally here! Many of us are excited as the Raiders have nearly $40 million in cap space after a 12-4 playoff season.
Thus, the Raiders have been connected to many free agents already. Here are the top players that Oakland should avoid when Free Agency negotiations open on March 7.
Garcon is 31. He took a step back last season. Oakland has no need for an undersized receiver on the outside.
Jackson went to Cal and grew up in L.A. He should’ve been a Raider two seasons ago when we created a hashtag for him. Instead, he chose to kick it with Wale and RGIII. This ship has sailed, but we’re not salty.
He’s 27 and has value as an inside and outside threat. However, he did not show much with New England. Thus, he is on the open market for a reason. Not worth the snaps investment.
Peterson will be an all-time great. However, his 1.9 average last season did not do him any favors. A checkered past with questionable fatherhood decisions and his age make this an absolute no-go. I don’t care if we should have had him instead of JaMarcus Russell.
Young and big back with zero ability to avoid hits. He also lost his ability to hit the second gear and make explosive runs. If we wanted that, we would have kept Latavius Murray.
Charles has missed more games than he has played in over the past few seasons. Plus, Oakland has their receiving backs in Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington.
One of the best linemen in his time, but he is 35. He is not even an upgrade over Donald Penn.
Even Alexander did not see his double-digits sack performance in 2016 coming. The Raiders do not need to be on the wrong side of his career projections as the edge is 34.
Another all-time great. He was still effective during his time in Green Bay. However, he is 37 and the Raiders need to invest money and reps elsewhere.
Big corner who has been on a steady decline. Raiders should pass.
Our tight end position is enough of a mess without adding a journeyman tight end who is on the wrong side of 30.
He was never the same player in Jacksonville that he was in Miami. Is an end or a tackle? Is he any good? Plus, I didn’t forget that he dissed Oakland for the Jaguars. Boy Bye.
Rodgers might make sense if the Raiders want a big-back for insurance behind Washington and Richard. However, this NFL Draft class is stacked with backs.
Former Pro Bowler with injuries. Over 30. His previous team did not bring him back after only one season. He is also a career left tackle who is probably not willing to switch to the right side. Clady is also more of a zone blocker, so he does not fit in Oakland.
I feel he was a product of his environment in New England. There is a reason the Patriots eased his use towards the end of the season.
He only played 60 percent of the snaps in New England last season. Long is 30, and a hybrid edge rusher with a legacy to the franchise. It makes too much sense to happen, just like last offseason.
An aged, veteran corner. Eh.
Stay tuned to see if the Raiders negotiate with any of these free agents that could end up being big busts. Either way, Oakland can not make any deal official until the league new year begins on March 9.
The above players were from a list of the Top-100 Free Agents, per NFLTradeRumors.co.
The NFL Scouting Combine is often referred to the grandest job interview, a reality TV show and the Underwear Olympics.
Either way, the 2017 Combine is underway as NFL Draft prospects prepare to test on the field this week.
For the Oakland Raiders, they are in a new position. Oakland is coming off their first playoff berth in more than a decade. Hence, they do not have too many glaring needs after a 12-4 season.
They do need to work on a defense that ranked No. 26 in yards per game, registered the least amount of sacks in the league and gave up the most points per game in the NFL. Look for them to think about adding a defensive tackle, corner, safety and inside linebacker to improve this unit. Not to mention, defensive contributors like Malcolm Smith, Perry Riley Jr. and Stacy McGee are free agents. They will need to be replaced or upgraded.
The Silver and Black could also use some help on offense. Key reserves (and sometimes starters) like Menelik Watson, Seth Roberts, Andre Holmes, Mychal Rivera and Latavius Murray are all free agents. These players could be re-signed and maintained for depth options. Either way, the Raiders must evaluate the receivers, tight end and running back positions for athe long-term value that surpasses the above-mentioned names.
Oakland has constantly preached about building a winning culture. They must do that by upgrading underachieving or mediocre players. Here are some players the Raiders should evaluate at Indy. These players make sense from a scheme, production and value perspective towards the top of the 2017 NFL Draft.
- Leonard Fournette
- Dalvin Cook
- Joe Mixon
- D’onta Foreman
- Kareem Hunt
- Alvin Kamara
- Donnel Pumphrey
- Cooper Kupp
- Zay Jones
- Carlos Henderson
- Chad Hansen
- Juju Smith-Schuster
- Curtis Samuel
- Isaiah Ford
- Noah Brown
- Dede Westbrook
- Amar Dorboh
- Travin Dural
- Cam Robinson
- Garrett Bolles
- Dion Dawkins
- Antonio Garcia
- Roderick johnson
- Julie’n Davenport
- Conor McDermott
- Jermaine Eluemunor
- Avery Gennesy
- Jonathan Allen
- Montravius Adams
- Caleb Brantley
- Malik McDowell
- Elijah Quails
- Chris Wormley
- Carlos Watkins
- Jaleel Johnson
- Taco Charlton
- Charles Harris
- Derek Barnett
- Takearist McKinley
- Ryan Anderson
- Carl Lawson
- Joe Mathis
- Tim Williams
- Reuben Foster
- Jarrad Davis
- Zach Cunningham
- Raekwon McMillan
- Vince Biegel
- Kendell Beckwith
- Duke Riley
- Alex Anzalone
- Ben Boulware
- Teez Tabor
- Tre’Davious White
- Marlon Humphrey
- Adoree’ Jackson
- Cordrea Tankersley
- Fabian Moreau
- Chidobe Awuzie
- Jordan Lewis
- Rasul Douglas
- Howard Wilson
- Kevin King
- Cameron Sutton
- Corn Elder
- Marquez White
- Ahkella Witherspoon
- Channing Stribling
- Budda Baker
- Justin Evans
- Marcus Williams
- Desmond King
- Marcus Maye
Granted, these are only lists. Of course, the Raiders will monitor all 300 prospects at the 2017 NFL Combine. Nonetheless, here is a short list of high-profile names at our positions of needs. Did I forget anybody?
What players are you watching closely at the 2017 NFL Combine? Let us know via Twitter.
Raiders fans could not ask for better news on Super Bowl Sunday. Finally, it could be time to Free Aldon!
NFL Insider Ian Rapaport reported that the NFL will reinstate edge Aldon Smith in March, as long as he does not suffer another drug test setback.
Obviously, this is huge for a Raiders defense that ranked in the bottom half in most statistical categories.
Ironically, many Raiders writers said it was time for Oakland to move on from their troubled pass rusher.
I couldn’t disagree more. Smith’s reinstatement means he’ll have an entire offseason to integrate himself back into the team.
Smith should secure the starting edge role opposite Khalil Mack. That means young tackles Jihad Ward and Mario Edwards can concentrate on playing inside defensive tackle as three or five shades. Bruce Irvin can also concentrate on full-time linebacker duties again. Irvin can also be utilized as a situational blitzer.
This gives Oakland more flexibility in the NFL Draft and free agency. They can focus on strengthening the interior of their defense via the nose tackles and inside linebackers positions.
Besides a natural ability to rush the passer, Smith brings an intensity and versatility the Raiders lacked last season. He should be utilized as a stand up rushing linebacker like his days as a 49er. Smith can also play a more traditional end role due to his length.
Not to mention, Smith can teach young players like Ward and Shilique Calhoun how to bend and use their length to defend the run and pass.
Plus, an improved Raiders pass rush means that Oakland secondary should improve as opposing quarterbacks will have less time to pass.
In other Raiders news, Khalil Mack won DPOY from the AP. Mack stole the award from Broncos rusher Von Miller. Funny, cause Mack is often compared to him.
Mack mostly wins the award thanks to his 11 sacks and five forces fumbles. However, I wouldn’t have given him the award due to his slow start and finish to the season. Mack had zero sacks when the Raiders needed it most for the playoff stretch.
Either way, congrats to Mack. He deserves it as a hard worker and stand up guy.
Meanwhile, Jack Del Rio and Derek Carr got snubbed for awards on the same night. Del Rio finished fourth for Coach of the Year despite helping his team earn their first playoff berth in more than a decade.
As for Carr, he was a long shot for the award when he broke his leg in week 16. Still, we all saw his impact on the Raiders by his absence in the Raiders’ final two games. Nonetheless, he finished tied for third for the NFL MVP award.
All in all, it’s a great time for Raider Nation!