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Raiders: Last Ride in Oakland - Training Camp

Raiders Training camp. Let’s talk about it. I am eagerly awaiting Hard Knocks this year as they will be tailing the team of the bay. The beginning of the Raider’s last ride in Oakland begins now. There are a plethora of Raider storylines to follow as we turn the page from off-season to pre-season. Big names like Gruden, Brown, Carr. Franchise developments in Davis, and Vegas. Here are a few things that have my interest peaked. (I expect a lot of spelling errors of names... forgive me)

Kolton Miller: The pick that could have been Derwin James or Vander Esch. I will continue to beat this dead horse as long as it continues to give me pleasure. How is it possible that I, using Google and YouTube as my only scouting tools, was able to mentally draft Derwin James who was arguably the defensive rookie of the year while Gruden, the $100 million dollar man, with unlimited resources at his disposal, snags this dud Miller. To my horrific displeasure, I stared at Kolton Miller a lot in his rookie campaign. He looked clueless, un-athletic, weak, and just flat out terrible. Carr visibly had to adjust his play to account for Kolton “the ghost” Miller. (Maybe I like Kolton “roller skates” Miller better. I’m not sure) I digress…. So what, related to this, am I actually looking forward to? I really want to see if Miller’s sophomore year comes with any improvement. I will be watching very closely to see if he looks anything like what a first round draft pick should. I’ve read a few times that he looks bigger and stronger coming into year two, in addition to the coaching staff praising his off-season. Well I am not buying yet. This smells more like Gruden not wanting to say “yeah I fucked up with that pick”.

First Round Purge players: Year one to see the return on the dumping of Khalil Mack and Amari Pooper. Now we have Clelin Ferrell, Jonathon Abram, and Josh Jacobs. I am very interested to see how these players perform. The franchise will either excel into contention, or pull the emergency brake based on the productivity of this squad. I have mixed feelings of the draft haul. On one hand, in Mayock I trust. He’s always been the best media draft analyst and it’s not even close when comparing him to his peers. Because of this, I will give this group the benefit of the doubt. At the same time, I do feel like this draft class, especially the first round guys, was a little lackluster. For example Josh Jacobs was for the most part the unquestioned top RB in the class. Now compare him to the other recent top RB’s of past years… Barkley, Zeke, Gurley, Fournette (Maybe hasn’t lived up to his potential but coming out he was a pretty off the charts prospect) I just don’t see Jacobs in the same light as these guys. The same goes for Abram. Many pegged him as the top safety this year, but comparing him to the top safeties from just last year (It was a toss-up) the man I lobbied for, Derwin James and Minka Fitzpatrick. Both players would get picked ahead of Abram if they were in the same class. I even have doubts about Ferrell. While he may have been a good safe pick, he just seems to lack bit of pizazz for a player taken 4th overall. Compare to last year’s 4th overall player taken, Denzel Ward. Heck even last years 5th pick, Bradley Chubb, 6th pick Quenton Nelson, 8th pick, Roquan Smith had more appeal to me than Ferrell. It’s just the Raiders luck… or lack thereof. If only last year’s QB rush took place this year, they would have had Bosa fall into their lap. Let’s also not discount the fact that they passed on two players that I would have jumped on in a heartbeat in Devin White and Josh Allen. Especially White. I tend to drool over the possibility of elite LBs though. For now I’ll have to trust Mayocks judgement, wait and see what we get. He can’t be worse then Gruden drafting… right?

The other side of the ball: Do we have an NFL caliber player on Defense? We did… his name was Khalil. Who on this roster can fill his void? Over the past several miserable years the defensive side of the ball has been largely ignored. Whether it was Gruden, McKenzie, Hue Jackson, or the late Al Davis the Raiders never seem to prioritize defense. While they continue to dish out large contracts to offensive players, they seem content in using stop gap solutions on defense. Aging veterans who are past their prime, or young late round picks. Sure they’ve swung on a few high draft picks. (DJ Hayden, Rolando McClain, Karl Joseph) All were wild misses. Side note, isn’t it disheartening that Khalil Mack got the same treatment as the aforementioned players? (Joseph is on the bubble) Either the Raiders have no idea what an NFL defensive player should be or they just don’t care. My guess is the latter. This offseason has been much of the same with the exception of signing Lamarcus Joyner. A good player, still in his prime. We will find out exactly how good he is real quick in Oakland. With minimal talent surrounding him there is no security blanket in the form of elite pass rushing (or even marginal pass rush) and no coaching creativity to mask inefficiencies. He may miss LA real quick. The other notable names acquired… Vontez Burfect. I appreciate the acquisition of toughness. It is something that the Raiders have lacked since Bill Romanowski maybe. But it seems like a few years too late for Burfect to add value. The second he gets caught lined up in front of Kelce just put the six points on the board. I do think Brandon Marshall has some left in the tank and will sadly be one of the better LBs we’ve had in some time just because Oakland never seems to properly address the position. The players I am excited to watch on defense are Maurice Hurst, PJ Hall, Gareon Conley, of course the rookies Ferrell and Abram. Even curious about mid round pick Mad Maxx Crosby. With that nickname how could you not be? He also gets extra credit in my book because it appears he’s been working on a sleeve since being drafted. I’m low key intrigued by third year LB Marquel Lee. By no means did he set the world on fire last year but he definitely looked lightyears ahead of his rookie year and at times flew around like a good LB should. Now that I rattled off a handful of names, I surprised myself by my level of interest in this defense. With so much youth it can really go either way. They can gel and surprise the world including myself, or it will be another really long year for Raider fans. I’ll stay pessimistic until further notice.

Finally, Probably one of the most mainstream storylines… Derek Carr. Some might have pegged Antonio Brown here but I’ll go on record here to say I hate the move for Brown. By the time the Raiders are truly ready to compete I don’t think AB will have anything left, or will have cried his way out of Vegas. The one saving grace is they did not give up a lot to get him… but I would have passed on him 10 times out of 10. Don’t get me wrong I will root for him to break the TD record every year he is wearing Silver and Black. The realist in me just sees Randy Moss 2.0.

Ok, back to Carr. This is his make or break year with the Raiders. It’s the reality even though I’d argue that only 1/3 of the equation is actually on the shoulders of Carr. Let’s break it down.

1. Carr: I think Carr is a mix between good and adequate in just about every QB measurable and intangible. What he is not, is elite in any one thing. The problem with this is his way too large paycheck. To pay elite QB money to someone who is borderline good to merely adequate is a bad strategy to build a winning team. I know Carr has been by far and away the most productive Raider QB since Rich Gannon but let’s consider the talent pool that we are holding him to… Jamarcus Russell, Kyle Boller, Kerry Collins, Tyrell Pryor, Andrew Walter, Aaron Brooks, Josh McCown, Dante Cullpepper, Bruce Gradkowski, Jason Campbell…..

2. The Raiders: The Raiders haven’t surrounded Carr with much of a fighting chance to be successful. The roster has lacked true football talent, and the coaches have equally sucked. The Raiders constantly try to mask their terrible drafting by signing big name, big contract free agents. That typically never works. Finally, to tie into point 1, Carr is not an X-factor player that can go out there and take over a game to get the win like a Newton, Luck, Wilson, Brees, Rodgers. He needs good players around him in order to play well and he needs a defense to keep him in games.

3. The 2020 draft class. Bad timing for Carr. If the 2019 Raiders put out yet another limp dick season and earn a top 10 pick they will not pass up the opportunity to grab a QB from this stacked 2020 QB draft class. This draft class has been hyped up for multiple seasons and if all goes according to plan there will be multiple potential franchise QBs available. Don’t forget the Raiders still have ammunition to move up in the draft too if they fall in lust with one of them.

What are you most looking forward to seeing coming from the Raiders 2019 pre-season? Let us know! Create an account, or log in, and leave a comment below

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