2019 NFL Season Preview- Oakland Raiders
Oakland's 2018 season was pretty much over before it started.
Late in the season, general manager Reggie McKenzie was fired and replaced by the team's director of college scouting Shaun Herock for the final three games.
Quarterback Derek Carr struggled to grasp Jon Gruden's west coast offense and played behind an injured plagued o-line with two rookie tackles. He did turn things around late as he went 10 games and 332 passes without and interception. He finished with a career low 19 touchdowns and was sacked a career high 51 times. Running back Marshawn Lynch landed on injured reserve after six games with a bad hamstring. Doug Martin flashed some of his former Pro Bowl potential while Jalen Richard tied for the team lead with 68 catches. Tight end Lee Smith was a productive red zone weapon as he caught 10 balls and had three scores. Wide receiver Amari Cooper was traded to Dallas midseason for a first round pick and Jordy Nelson struggled in the first half of the season due to recovering from a knee injury but came on strong late in the year. Seth Roberts was mainly used in the slot and finished with 45 receptions and two touchdowns. Center Rodney Hudson had arguably his most impressive season as he battled injuries while holding down the line. Left tackle Donald Penn landed on injured reserve after four games with a groin injury while guards Kelechi Osemele and Gabe Jackson were slowed by different ailments.
The defense fell a part before the year even started as edge rusher Khalil Mack was traded to Chicago after a contract holdout. Oakland finished near the bottom in yards, points allowed, and sacks. Defensive end Frostee Rucker did his best in his 13th season to hold down the fort as he was surrounding by rookies. Outside linebacker Tahir Whitehead was the defensive standout and led the team with 126 tackles. Bruce Irvin had just three sacks before he was released midseason. Cornerback Gareon Conley was given a second chance after a bad rookie season and led the team with 15 passes defended, tied for the team lead with three interceptions, and a touchdown. Safety Karl Joseph finished the season strong after underachieving early and finished with 48 tackles and two sacks. Marcus Gilchrest had 58 tackles with three picks while Rashaan Melvin finished with 56 tackles and nine passes defended.
The Raiders had five kickers on the season. Mike Nugent and Matt McCrane ended the season injured. Return specialist Dwayne Harris led the league with a 14.1 yard average on punt returns and had 99-yard punt return touchdown.
The team had just one Pro Bowler in tight end Jared Cook. Cook had a career year in his 10th season with 68 receptions for 896 yards and six touchdowns.
The rookie class was thrown into the fire before they were ready, but the team sees a lot of potential in them. Tackle Kolton Miller played well at times, but allowed several sacks while battling through a knee injury. Defensive tackle PJ Hall was slowed by an ankle injury in the season opener. Tackle Brandon Parker was forced into the lineup after Donald Penn went down and struggled for the most part. Defensive end Arden Key led the team with 11 quarterback hits but only had one sack. Defensive tackle Maurice Hurst was limited with a few injuries but still led the team with four sacks. Punter Johnny Townsend seemed to be on the cutting block early but improved as the season went on. Wide receiver Marcell Ateman got a chance to play after Amari Cooper was traded and showed promise. Kicker Daniel Carlson was claimed on waivers having been cut by Minnesota and only missed one kick as a Raider and was perfect on extra points.
Opponent Passing YPG
Opponent Rushing YPG
Going 4-12 in his first season back in Oakland, Jon Gruden has to make some serious strides in year two. Considering he traded away two of their best players, it has to be questioned if he has lost the locker room.
After initially stating they would not return to the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum for 2019, the Raiders were effectively forced to return to the stadium after the San Francisco 49ers, blocked an effort to play at Oracle Park while they await the completion of Las Vegas Stadium. Assuming Las Vegas Stadium is ready by 2020, this will be the 25th and final season in the team's second tenure in Oakland.
On December 31, 2018, the Raiders hired former NFL Network draft expert and former NBC's Notre Dame Football color commentator Mike Mayock as general manager.
On April 29, 2019, newly acquired running back Isaiah Crowell suffered a torn Achilles during a team workout and was placed on injured reserved, ending his season.
On June 11, 2019, it was announced that the Raiders would be featured on HBO's Hard Knocks.
Notable Additions- QB Mike Glennon, RB Isaiah Crowell, WR Antonio Brown, WR Ryan Grant, WR JJ Nelson, WR Tyrell Williams, TE Eric Swoope, TE Luke Willson, T Trent Brown, G Richie Incognito, DE Benson Mayowa, LB Vontaze Burfict, LB Brandon Marshall, S Lazmarcus Joyner
Notable Departures- QB AJ McCarron, RB Marshawn Lynch, WR Jordy Nelson, WR Seth Roberts, TE Jared Cook, T Donald Penn, G Kelechi Osemele, DE Frostee Rucker, CB Rashaan Melvin, S Marcus Gilchrest
Derek Carr 2018 Highlights
2019 NFL Draft
Thanks to trading away Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper, the Raiders had an additional two, first round picks to go along with their own fourth overall pick. With three first round picks at their disposal, they have a great opportunity to get high level talent at running back, wide receiver, and defensive lineman.
Marshawn Lynch has retired again, Doug Martin will be 30, and Isaiah Crowell will be out for the season. Oakland needs a young buck in the backfield.
The team acquired Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams, but lost Jordy Nelson to retirement. Marcell Atman is talented but unproven and Martavis Bryant was a huge disappointment. More weapons for Derek Carr would be ideal.
The defensive line got production from three rookies on the line last season, but still needs an interior run stopper and a pass rusher to fill the void of Khalil Mack.
On draft day, Oakland selected Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell with the fourth overall pick, Alabama running back Josh Jacobs with the 24th overall pick, and Mississippi State safety Johnathan Abram with the 27th overall pick. Ferrell was seen as the top run stopping defensive end in the class, but lacks burst to consistently win with speed. Jacobs was viewed as the top outside running back in the draft, but doesn't get many yards after contact. Abram was praised for being aggressive as a tackler, but is too easily fooled by play action passes.
Other Notable Draft Picks:
Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson- Rare height for the position, bad handwork at the line
Maxx Crosby, DE, Eastern Michigan- Good production, maybe should have stayed in school another year
Isaiah Johnson, CB, Houston- Long limbed with good flexibility, very raw in technique
Foster Moreau, TE, LSU- Best blocking tight end prospect, limited speed and athleticism
Hunter Renfro, WR, Clemson- Exceptional ball skills, lacks top end speed
Quinton Bell, DE, Prairie View A&M- Tremendous athleticism, just one season playing defense
Notable Undrafted Free Agent Signings:
Te'Von Coney, LB, Notre Dame- Compact and powerful frame, lacks sideline to sideline range
Clelin Ferrell Highlights
What To Expect
The Raiders made a lot roster move in the offseason, and they look to be situated better that they were at the start of last year.
Derek Carr is the leader of this team and should be more comfortable with another year in this offense. Josh Jacobs will likely be the day one starter at running back with Jalen Richard being used as a receiver out of the backfield. The team was unable to resign Jared Cook and it unknown whether, Eric Swoope, Luke Willson, or Foster Moreau will be able to replace that production. Antonio Brown has had over 100 catches in each of the last six seasons. I don't expect him to reach those numbers in his first year in Oakland, but his route running will force two cover men to be on himat all times which will open doors for other receivers. Kolton Miller should have a solid sophomore season if he stays healthy and Trent Brown is an upgrade over Brandon Parker. The team will miss Pro Bowler Kelechi Osemele as Richie Incognito had to be signed out of retirement.
The defensive line has a lot of bodies with Clelin Ferrell, Arden Key, Johnathan Hankins, Maurice Hurst likely as the starters. Vontaze Burfict is the perfect linebacker for the Raider mentality and should compliment Brandon Marshall and Tahir Whitehead well. Johnathan Abram and Lamarcus Joyner are an upgraded safety tandem and Trayvon Mullen should pair nicely with Gareon Conley.
Oakland took steps in the right direction, but they are far from ready to challenge the Chiefs and Chargers but do match up well with the Broncos.
Best Record They Can Hope For: 6-10