I get it. Antonio Smith was on the wrong side of thirty for a team that wanted to get younger. Still, a team with so many roster wholes can not afford to let a player with Smith’s leadership and production go. Even if he was a liability against the run, the ninja assassin would have brought value in pass rushing situations.
The Raiders let Smith’s three sacks and force fumble walk for nothing. Instead they opted to re-up with CJ Wilson last week. This might signal the Raiders are in play for a three technique such as Leonard Williams. They might also grab one at the top of the second round in Michael Bennett or Carl Davis. Regardless, the Raiders need as much talent and leadership as possible and letting Smith go just adds another roster whole.
So why did they do it then? I think it is clear Smith didn’t fit the new team’s scheme. Even more than that, maybe Smith was team Sparano. Smith was one of the biggest advocates for the interim coach last season and maybe he didn’t buy into the JDR regime. I thought Reggie McKenzie would have at least stuck to one of his key acquisitions from last season for at least another year. The team had nothing to lose playing Smith in a limited role
Whatever the Reason, cutting Smith just made the Raiders roster even more talent deprived. Further, Smith gave Raider nation a year of great media quotes and we thank him for that.
The Raiders had to spend on someone. Hudson was the Raiders only marquee signing and got almost 9 million a year. The center is one of PFF top rated centers and is just entering his prime. He should be the middle anchor of the offensive line and Derek Carr’s key protector.
Draft Implications: Center was not the biggest positional need for the Raiders. Even if Hudson is a clear upgrade over the regressing Wisniewski, the Raiders still need help in the interior offensive line. They gave versatile Khalif Barnes and extension but giving him competition at right guard should be a draft priority.
No his name is not Suh or Pot Roast. We have heard all about how Dan Williams being among leaders for QB hurries and being a better run defender than Knighton. Well he isn’t the big name, Williams is the big presence to anchor the defense. Expect him to move all over the defensive line as the Raiders try to get their best four guys on the field between Justin Tuck, Williams, Antonio Smith, Justin Ellis, and whoever plays left end.
Draft Implications: Free Agency proves Jack Del Rio wants to build both sides of the ball inside out. Williams addition sures up the tackle position but their is still a need for someone who can legitimately rush the quarterback from a three point stance. Well tackle is not the need, do not be surprised if the Raiders take the best player available if Leonard Williams is there at No. 4. JDR wants a stout middle and L. Williams could easily be best prospect in entire draft.
Allen had a down year last season for the Eagles. Still, he is an upgrade over Usama Young and Brandin Ross. Considering both the draft and free agency safety classes were thin, it should be no surprised Allen cashed out. The good news is, Allen is versatile enough to play either safety position so he should be savy enough to mesh with Charles Woodson. As long as he doesn’t have the same injury history as Tyvon Branch it will be an Upgrade.
Draft Implications: Safety class is so weak in this draft. Still the Raiders need an eventual replacement for Woodson. Added, Allen is not elite so competition will not hurt him. Raiders should still consider the best safety available in the final days of the draft. Otherwise Keith McGill could be a candidate for a move to safety?
Lofton was Cut after just one season with the Saints. Regardless, he is on the right side of thirty and has consistently racked up tackles each season. Lofton sures up the middle of the defense for the Raiders as long as he can stay health.
Draft Implications: It is a shame the Raiders put such a priority into middle linebacker because this class is deep. However, McKenzie, Del Rio, and Norton are former linebackers so I am sure they will take a chance on someone in the late rounds. They will probably be a special teamer, but RM will take one if they are best player available. Eitherway, the position went from weakness to strength.
Smith’s addition was probably the most intriguing of all the signings. Is the former Super Bowl Player a Sam, Will, or Mike? Or is he just a back up relegated to special teams? Whatever the case he is great insurance should Sio Moore suffer anymore injury and could be used in four linebacker sets with Moore, Mack and Lofton. Reuniting with Ken Norton Jr. should be good for him.
Draft implications: See Lofton
Raiders made the most headlines signing the former No. 3 overall pick. At 24 years old, Richardson is certainly worth the squeeze. He should compete with Latavius Murray for touches. If Richardson can even reach half of his potential the Raiders could look like genius. At worst he is a camp body.
Draft Implications: This running back class is also very deep. Raiders could have got a great value pick in the middle rounds. With Richardson, Murray, Reece, and Helu the Raiders may have already filled all of their running back roles and will probably not draft a runner.
Do the Raiders really need another blocking tight end? I would have loved to see Jermaine Gresham added as he is a young steady blocker and pass catcher. However, back concerns probably deterred the Raiders. Either way the addition of Lee over better pass catching tight ends prove the Raiders are happy with Mychael Rivera’s production.
Draft Implications: Again, I think this proves the Raiders feel like they have a quality starter in Rivera. With Lee there, the tight end role should be filled and the Raiders probably won’t draft tight end.
The running back brings value as a third down back and H back. With the team already struggling to get Reece involved, I don’t see Helu being a huge contributor.
Draft Implications: See Richardson.