QB Matt Flynn, RB Rashad Jennings, DE Jason Hunter, DT Vance Walker, OLB Kevin Burnett, OLB Nick Roach, OLB Kaluka Maiava, CB Mike Jenkins, CB Tracy Porter, S Charles Woodson, S Usama Young, P Chris Kluwe, KR Joshua Cribbs.
Early Draft Picks:
CB D.J. Hayden, OT Menelik Watson, LB Sio Moore, QB Tyler Wilson, TE Nick Kasa, RB Latavius Murray, TE Mychal Rivera. Raiders Rookie Forecast Offseason Losses:
QB Carson Palmer, RB Mike Goodson, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, TE Brandon Myers, G Cooper Carlisle, DE Matt Shaughnessy, DT Richard Seymour, DT Desmond Bryant, DT Tommy Kelly, OLB Philip Wheeler, ILB Rolando McClain, CB Shawntae Spencer, S Michael Huff, S Michael Mitchell, P Shane Lechler.
2013 Oakland Raiders Offense:
Think about how good the Raiders would be if they didn't spend so many draft picks on quarterbacks who don't even start for them right now. They tossed a third-rounder away for Terrelle Pryor and then dealt first- and second-rounders to the Bengals for Carson Palmer, who was traded this offseason to Arizona for a conditional 2014 seventh-rounder. The new quarterback is Matt Flynn, who was acquired for a fifth-rounder and a conditional 2015 selection. The price Oakland paid for Flynn is substantially less, but it looks like a wasted move regardless.
The most telling sign that Flynn isn't a starting-caliber quarterback is that his former offensive coordinator, Joe Philbin, passed on him in free agency last spring. The Seahawks obtained him, but he failed to beat out a rookie for the job. Russell Wilson turned out to be pretty amazing, but even Seattle's coaching staff didn't know how good he would be. Flynn is a weak-armed signal-caller who is a solid backup at best. He may be used in that role against this year because fourth-round rookie Tyler Wilson is impressing in OTAs. It shouldn't surprise anyone if Wilson claims the job prior to the beginning of the regular season.
Neither Flynn nor Wilson will have much to work with. The Raiders lost Darrius Heyward-Bey and Brandon Myers this offseason. The former was a very inefficient receiver, but his absence still depletes depth at the position. Second-year Rod Streater will start across from Denarius Moore. Streater showed flashes during 2012 preseason action, but was stuck in the dog house after dropping some passes in the opener. Streater got a second chance late and capitalized, catching 18 balls for 348 yards and a touchdown in his final five games. He'll need to do a better job of holding on to the football though because the physically gifted Denarius Moore was among the league leaders in drops. Moore and Streater had balls sail through their hands a combined 16 times.
The Flynn-Wilson winner won't only have to count on Moore and Streater concentrating; he'll need one of the rookie tight ends - Nick Kasa or Mychal Rivera - to emerge as a solid replacement for Brandon Myers. He'll also need Darren McFadden to stop disappointing. McFadden is one of the most physically gifted runners in the NFL, but he hasn't been able to stay healthy, missing 23 games in his 5-year career. He's had so many injuries as a pro that it appears as though he's been sapped of his explosiveness; he averaged just 3.3 yards per carry in 2012. There have been reports that he's re-energized, but people should believe that when they see it in real game action. It's very likely that matchup-nightmare fullback Marcel Reece will be forced into making several starts again.
It doesn't get much better up front. Jared Veldheer is a solid left tackle, but the Raiders didn't feel comfortable enough with him protecting Flynn's blind side because they would have pounced on Luke Joeckel had he made it past the Jaguars. They spent their second-round selection on Menelik Watson, a really athletic, but equally raw tackle who should be able to overtake Khalif Barnes on the right side.
Outside of Veldheer, center Stefen Wisniewski is the top player on the offensive line. He didn't surrender a single sack last season. Unfortunately, he's surrounded by two pretty weak guards. Mike Brisiel struggled last year, while Tony Bergstrom, a third-round pick in 2012, made one start as a rookie and didn't look very good in the brief moments he was on the field.
2013 Oakland Raiders Defense:
If Raider fans don't recognize any of the starters on their defense, that's because they shouldn't. Only two of Oakland's starting defenders from last season have returned for 2013.
The first is defensive end Lamarr Houston, who tied for the team lead in sacks with four. That number is a bit skewed because the Raiders seldom held leads; Houston is a talented lineman who excels in run support. He'll start across from one of the following: the newly signed Jason Hunter, Andre Carter or Jack Crawford. Hunter, formerly of the Broncos, had just one sack in 2011 and then missed all of 2012 with torn triceps. Carter is a has-been who mustered 2.5 sacks last season in Oakland. Crawford, a 2012 fifth-rounder, has the most upside, but only by default.
The second returning starter is stud safety Tyvon Branch, who is one of the top players at his position in the league. That distinction used to be true for Charles Woodson, whom Oakland signed in May. Woodson, who once played for the Raiders, is unfortunately past his prime and is no longer the talent he once was; he'll be 37 in October.
Oakland, however, is counting on Woodson to play well next to Branch because the rest of the secondary is in shambles. The starting corners figure to be rookie D.J. Hayden, who has a serious heart condition, and Mike Jenkins, a poor-effort Cowboys' reject. Tracy Porter, who barely saw any playing time in Denver, was also brought in this offseason. He's not expected to be an upgrade of any sort, but he could at least beat out Jenkins.
The Raiders can't get to the quarterback or stop passing attacks, but can they at least contain the run? Not totally, but that's what they'll be best at. Defensive tackles Pat Sims and Vance Walker, signed over from the Bengals and Falcons, respectively, aren't completely inept in that aspect, but they'll offer nothing in terms of getting to the quarterback.
The linebacking corps is a mess as well. Oakland lost all three starters in that area, including stud Philip Wheeler, so the new players - Nick Roach, Kaluka Maiava, Kevin Burnett and rookie Sio Moore - will have to learn how to gel together. Burnett is probably the best of the bunch, given that he doesn't have any weaknesses to his game. Maiava is a solid two-down player, while Roach is just mediocre. Moore, chosen in the third round, can provide some solid pass-rushing ability once he adjusts to the NFL.
2013 Oakland Raiders Schedule and Intangibles:
The Black Hole seems like an intimidating place to play, but the Raiders are a sub-.500 team (66-78) as hosts since 1995. They were 3-5 at home last year, with four of the defeats being by eight or more.
Sebastian Janikowski signed a 4-year, $16 million contract three offseasons ago and definitely lived up to it, hitting 31-of-34 attempts in 2012, including 6-of-9 from 50-plus.
Shane Lechler is no longer the Raiders' punter. He has been replaced by the controversial Chris Kluwe, who was 17th in net average last season.
Oakland struggled mightily in the return game last year. The team averaged 5.1 yards on punts and 22.3 on kickoffs, compared to 10.0 and 28.9 by their opponents. Foes scored twice, while the Raiders didn't find the end zone a single time. Joshua Cribbs was brought in to change that.
The Raiders will have a terrible record almost instantly. Three of their first four opponents made the playoffs last season (Colts, Broncos and Redskins). They also have a three-in-four stretch after their Week 7 bye in which they have to battle the Steelers, Giants and Texans.
2013 Oakland Raiders Rookies:
Go here for the Raiders Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.
2013 Oakland Raiders Analysis: The Raiders have one of the worst rosters the NFL has seen in decades. Their quarterbacks are terrible, their running back is always hurt, their receivers drop tons of passes, their offensive line isn't very good, their defensive line can't get to the quarterback, their linebackers have never played together, and their cornerbacks can't cover. Oakland has a legitimate shot to go 0-16 this season.
Please note that the overall grade is not an average of all the individual grades. Other things are taken into account like team needs and goals.
Goals Entering the 2013 NFL Draft: Oakland has the worst roster in the NFL. Most of the starters are players who would be third-stringers on most teams. The Raiders resemble an expansion franchise, and they need to treat themselves as such. They need help everywhere, starting at quarterback. They must obtain a signal-caller with one of their first three picks.
2013 NFL Draft Accomplishments: I'm not used to giving the Raiders positive grades for their picks, but Reggie McKenzie did a good job. The only grade worse than a "B" was the first one. D.J. Hayden was a reach at No. 12 considering his health concerns. I like that the Raiders at least moved down to get him, but this class was so deep at cornerback that Oakland still could have obtained a quality player at the position at No. 42. Why not grab Star Lotulelei or Sharrif Floyd with the 12th pick?
Because the Raiders have nothing anywhere on their roster, many of their selections could start immediately. This includes Hayden, Menelik Watson, Sio Moore and Nick Kasa. Moore was my favorite pick, as he's the only pass-rusher McKenzie obtained. The Raiders are not going to beat Peyton Manning this year, but Moore will help their cause in 2014 by pressuring the future Hall of Famer.
Havng said that, the Raiders still have a long way to go. They're still the worst team in the NFL, but that won't be the case for long if McKenzie keeps drafting like this.
2013 NFL Draft Individual Grades:
12. D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston: C Grade
I was prepared to give the Raiders a "Millen" grade had they drafted D.J. Hayden at No. 3, as some reports indicated they would. This isn't so bad. Hayden is a big injury risk, so I don't know how he can possibly go so early. I do like that Oakland picked up a second-round though, which was essential given the lack of talent on the roster. I just don't know how the Raiders can justify passing on Sharrif Floyd and Star Lotulelei.
42. Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State: B+ Grade
The Raiders were going to draft Luke Joeckel if he fell to No. 3, so this makes a ton of sense. The Raiders have a huge hole at right tackle, and they need to worry about blocking Von Miller on that side. Menelik Watson could play there initially and eventually move to the blind side. He's a project, but was expected to go at the end of the first round because of his great athleticism.
66. Sio Moore, LB, Connecticut: A- Grade
It's useless to stay whether or not an Oakland pick filled a need because the team has huge holes everywhere. Sio Moore was one of the top players available. He'll offer some pass-rushing ability out of the linebacker position, much like former Raider Kamerion Wimbley.
112. Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas: B Grade
Tyler Wilson has a noodle arm, so he had to go to a team running a West Coast offense. That's exactly what the Raiders utilize, so it's a good fit. I'm not sure if Wilson can ever develop into a starter, but he should be a solid, game-managing backup at the very worst.
172. Nick Kasa, TE, Colorado: B+ Grade
The Raiders really wanted a tight end earlier, but they're definitely fine with Nick Kasa here, who fits the range. Oakland lost Brandon Myers to the Giants, so Kasa could start this year.
181. Latavius Murray, RB, Central Florida: B Grade
Darren McFadden will get injured at some point during the 2013 season, so the Raiders need a solid running back to step in. Murray, perceived to be a sixth-round prospect by many, is a larger back who should be able to pass the mediocre Rashad Jennings on the depth chart at some point.
184. Mychal Rivera, TE, Tennessee: B Grade
Two tight ends in the same round? Seems crazy, but I don't mind this because Nick Kasa and Mychal Rivera are two different players. Kasa will serve as the inline blocker, while Rivera will be the move tight end. The Raiders had nothing at the position, so they absolutely had to take care of this, especially when considering Matt Flynn's noodle arm. Rivera fits the range.
205. Stacy McGee, DT, Oklahoma: B Grade
The Raiders finally draft a defensive tackle 202 selections after most people thought they'd take one. Stacy McGee is a solid player for this pick.
209. Brice Butler, WR, San Diego State: B Grade
Al Davis would have liked Brice Butler. He was a workout warrior who drew heavy interest as a late-round prospect. Darrius Heyward-Bey is gone, so might as well replace him with Butler.
233. David Bass, DE, Missouri Western: B Grade
The Raiders needed to take a defensive end much earlier than this, but Davis Bass is a solid choice at this juncture.
It's now been 10 years since the Raiders last made the playoffs. They've had nearly as many coaches (7), and they could be headed to No. 8 soon. Dennis Allen will stay on in 2013, but he lost his locker room in the middle of the season because he refused to get rid of bums like Tommy Kelly and Rolando McClain who showed that they didn't care about winning. Unfortunately for Oakland, the future isn't bright. There's no quarterback, no cap flexibility and no hope.
Raiders sign S Charles Woodson
Raiders sign P Chris Kluwe
Raiders sign KR Joshua Cribbs
Raiders sign TE Jeron Mastrud
Raiders sign RB Rashad Jennings
Ravens sign ILB Rolando McClain
Raiders re-sign CB Joselio Hanson
Raiders sign S Usama Young
Raiders re-sign DE Andre Carter
Raiders sign CB Mike Jenkins
Patriots sign DT Tommy Kelly
Raiders waive G Jason Slowey
Raiders waive ILB Rolando McClain
Cardinals acquire QB Carson Palmer for conditional 2014 7th-rounder
Raiders sign CB Tracy Porter
Colts sign WR Darrius Heyward-Bey
Raiders acquire QB Matt Flynn from Seahawks
Ravens sign S Michael Huff
Raiders cut DT Tommy Kelly
Texans sign P Shane Lechler
Panthers sign S Michael Mitchell
Raiders re-sign OT Khalif Barnes
Raiders sign DT Vance Walker
Raiders sign OLB Kevin Burnett
Giants sign TE Brandon Myers
Raiders sign OLB Nick Roach
Cardinals sign DE Matt Shaughnessy
Jets sign RB Mike Goodson
Raiders sign DE Jason Hunter
Raiders sign DT Pat Sims
Raiders sign OLB Kaluka Maiava
Raiders re-sign CB Coye Francies
Dolphins sign OLB Philip Wheeler
Raiders cut WR Darrius Heyward-Bey
Raiders cut S Michael Huff
Raiders cut DE David Tollefson
Raiders re-sign S Phillip Adams
Browns sign DT Desmond Bryant
Two Defensive Tackles: It doesn't appear as though Richard Seymour will be back next year. Desmond Bryant is also a free agent. And I don't need to point out that Tommy Kelly is a lazy player who is more interested in injuring the other quarterback than winning. Two defensive tackle upgrades are needed. One could be Star Lotulelei via the third pick. Signed Vance Walker and Pat Sims
Two Cornerbacks: As you'll see, the Raiders need multiples of various things on defense, including cornerbacks. This area was so bad this past season that safety Michael Huff had to start at one of the positions. Signed Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins; drafted D.J. Hayden, re-signed Joselio Hanson and Phillip Adams
Three Linebackers: Not one, not two, but three. The linebacking corps is that putrid. Philip Wheeler is a free agent who must be retained. Rolando McClain doesn't really care. Miles Burris, meanwhile, was a disappointment, but is still young, so he'll likely get another shot. Drafted Sio Moore; signed Nick Roach, Kevin Burnett and Kaluka Maiava
Two Defensive Ends: Excluding the Jaguars, no team had fewer sacks in the NFL last year than the Raiders. The front office needs to find some help across from Lamarr Houston. Depth is also needed. Signed Jason Hunter
Free Safety: Michael Huff was released at the beginning of free agency. Signed Charles Woodson and Usama Young
Right Tackle: The right tackle position has been a big problem area for the Raiders in recent years. Neither Khalif Barnes nor Willie Smith played well there in 2012. Re-signed Khalif Barnes; drafted Menelik Watson
Quarterback: Carson Palmer just turned 33. He's good enough to get a team into the playoffs if he has good talent to work with and a solid defense to support him, but that's clearly not the case. By the time Oakland rebuilds its team properly, Palmer will be too old to make a postseason run. Unless the Raiders think Terrelle Pryor is the long-term answer, they'll need to bring in a young quarterback to groom behind Palmer. Traded for Matt Flynn; drafted Tyler Wilson
Tight End: Brandon Myers caught 79 passes in 2012. The Raiders will obviously need to replace that production if he walks. Drafted Nick Kasa, Mychal Rivera
Guard: Left guard Cooper Carlisle is a free agent. Tony Bergstrom, a third-round pick in 2012, should be able to move into that position, but Oakland will have to add depth.
Wide Receiver: Wide Receiver depth should be obtained in the wake of Darrius Heyward-Bey's release.
Punter: Shane Lechler is a free agent coming off a poor season. Signed Chris Kluwe
2013 NFL Free Agent Signings:
Kevin Burnett, OLB, Dolphins. Age: 30. Signed with Raiders
Kevin Burnett, like Karlos Dansby, was part of Miami's minor-upgrade purge. Burnett is a very talented linebacker with no glaring weaknesses in his game. The only downside is that he'll be 31 in December.
Charles Woodson, S/CB, Packers. Age: 36. Signed with Raiders (1 year)
Charles Woodson was released because of financial reasons, so it's not like the Packers don't think he can't play anymore. While Woodson isn't nearly the elite defensive back he used to be, he can still get the job done as a soon-to-be 37-year-old (in October).
Chris Kluwe, P, Vikings. Age: 31. Signed with Raiders (1 year)
Some will say that Chris Kluwe was released because he was just 17th in net punting last year, but the reality is that his controversial tweets were viewed as a distraction.
Joshua Cribbs, KR, Browns. Age: 30. Signed with Raiders
Joshua Cribbs maintained decent return averages in 2012, but he has just one special-teams touchdown in the past three years. He'll be 30 in June.
Nick Roach, OLB, Bears. Age: 28. Signed with Raiders
Nick Roach hasn't been a liability as a starting linebacker, but Chicago can do better.
Mike Jenkins, CB, Cowboys. Age: 28. Signed with Raiders (1 year)
Mike Jenkins has talent, but he's a head case who hasn't put it together yet. Maybe some coach can salvage his career.
Kaluka Maiava, OLB, Browns. Age: 26. Signed with Raiders (3 years, $6 million)
Kaluka Maiava started games at both strongside and weakside linebacker this year. He handled himself pretty well as a two-down player.
Rashad Jennings, RB, Jaguars. Age: 28. -- Signed with Raiders
Tracy Porter, CB, Broncos. Age: 27. -- Signed with Raiders
Vance Walker, DT, Falcons. Age: 26. -- Signed with Raiders
Pat Sims, DT, Bengals. Age: 27. -- Signed with Raiders
Usama Young, S, Browns. Age: 28. -- Signed with Raiders
Jason Hunter, DE, Broncos. Age: 30. -- Signed with Raiders
Jeron Mastrud (RFA), TE, Dolphins. Age: 25. -- Signed with Raiders
Oakland Raiders Free Agents:
Salary Cap: TBA.
Philip Wheeler, OLB, Raiders. Age: 28. Signed with Dolphins (5 years, $26 million)
Philip Wheeler was one of the most improved players in the NFL this past season. He thrived in every aspect, including blitzing, and he's earned a huge pay day this spring. And to think, the Raiders obtained him for a mere 1-year, $700,000 contract during the previous offseason.
Richard Seymour, DT, Raiders. Age: 33.
Richard Seymour has been tremendous over the years, including the first half of this past season. Unfortunately, he missed the final eight games of his 2012 campaign because of a hamstring injury. He'll be 34 in October, so it's fair to wonder if his body is breaking down.
Brandon Myers, TE, Raiders. Age: 27. Signed with Giants
Brandon Myers isn't much of a blocker, but he was a very dependable target for Carson Palmer in 2012, catching close to 80 balls.
Desmond Bryant, DT, Raiders. Age: 27. Signed with Browns (5 years, $34 million)
Desmond Bryant served as a solid interior pass-rusher after Richard Seymour was lost for the year. Excluding Lamarr Houston, no other Raider defensive lineman was better at applying pressure on the quarterback, though that's not saying much.
Michael Huff, S, Raiders. Age: 30. Signed with Ravens
Michael Huff is a cap casualty; the Raiders couldn't afford his $4 million salary in 2013. Huff is still a quality safety who is versatile enough to play cornerback effectively.
Rolando McClain, ILB, Raiders. Age: 24. Signed with Ravens
The positive for Rolando McClain: He's a strong run defender who will be just 24 in July. The negative? He was used on just two downs in 2012 because he can't cover. He also has major work-ethic issues, though these could be fixed if he's brought into a strong locker room.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Raiders. Age: 26. Signed with Colts (1 year)
Darrius Heyward-Bey caught 64 balls for 975 yards in 2011, but he's not a very good receiver. He has terrible hands and run awful routes. He does have upside though with his size and speed, so maybe some great coaching could get the most out of him.
Shane Lechler, P, Raiders. Age: 37. Signed with Texans
Shane Lechler has been recognized as one of the NFL's top punters over the years, but he appears to be finished at 37. His net punting average ranked in the bottom 10.
Cooper Carlisle, G, Raiders. Age: 36.
Cooper Carlisle pass protected well last season, but struggled to open up running lanes for Darren McFadden and Marcel Reece. Carlisle will be 36 in August, so he shouldn't get anything more than the veteran minimum.
Joselio Hanson, CB, Raiders. Age: 32. Re-signed with Raiders
Joselio Hanson was one of Philadelphia's final cuts prior to the season. The Raiders snatched him up, and he actually played pretty well for them as their nickel corner.
Mike Goodson, RB, Raiders. Age: 26. -- Signed with Jets (3 years, $6.9 million)
Most accurate mock draft out there. Give it a look. Potential starting 5s. FA predictions. 2nd Round now available.
My top 5 players in order