2016 Oakland Raiders Offseason Positional Needs
It's hard to think of a more drastic renaissance in the NFL in recent years than the Oakland Raiders have undergone. It's not been for lack of drama, either; from the rumored move to Los Angeles to the firing of Dennis Allen and the interim era of Tony Sparano. However, Oakland could not be functioning any better under general manager Reggie McKenzie and head coach Jack Del Rio. With multiple impact free agency signings and draft selections, the franchise is clearly heading in the right direction. That said, who will the Silver and Black look to target in free agency this year?
Although all-time great Charles Woodson put together three good seasons for the Raiders after returning from Green Bay, he decided to hang up his cleats during the last season. #24 will retire a Raider, as it should be for a man who dedicated so much of his life to this organization. The question becomes, who will step up to replace him? Nate Allen was released and re-signed earlier this week, and Larry Asante and Taylor Mays have failed to ever make much of an impact on an NFL field and are impending free agents themselves. The obvious and easy link is Eric Weddle of AFC West rival San Diego in free agency, but that's no guarantee and still only takes care of one starting spot. Oakland will need to fill the cupboard here.
Jack Del Rio and Reggie McKenzie combined for 220 games and 168 starts at linebacker in the NFL as players. Their three projected starting LBs combined for 217 and 152 starts, boosted by the 128/120 numbers from Curtis Lofton, who was benched early in the season last year. That means they're getting old at the position. The Raiders can hope for second-year leaps from 2015 selections Ben Heeney and Neiron Ball, but they need an injection of youth and starting material badly.
3. Right Guard
Keeping a young quarterback like Derek Carr protected and upright has to be a top priority for the Raiders. Left guard Gabe Jackson is one of the most promising young offensive linemen in the game, with grit and fire on the inside of the line. However, options on the other side of Rodney Hudson are limited. J'Marcus Webb will hit free agency and lacked impact, while backup rookie Jon Feliciano was widely panned as a reach in the fourth round last year. Oakland will need to find some consistency there.
Written by the Pro Football Spot Oakland Raiders Staff. Follow us on Twitter: @spot_raiders