Two short months ago in our first look at the Silver and Black's outlook heading into the 2016 season, the squad definitely had its holes. Safety, linebacker and right guard were at the head of the list then, but free agency has certainly had its impacts on the bottom line of the roster. Right guard? Well, Kelechi Osemele will certainly slide in effectively, or Gabe Jackson will switch sides. Safety? The additions of veteran Reggie Nelson and youngster Brynden Trawick will provide for the depth there. With that said, here's the latest on the Black's Holes deepest, darkest desires:
The only holdover from the previous list, middle and weakside linebackers remain in need of some steadying presence. At the position, the Raiders released Curtis Lofton, who was generally inconsistent when on the field, and signed former Ram Daren Bates. Bates was typically a special teamer during his time in St. Louis, earning a captain's nod in 2015. It's very possible that he sticks there long-term for Oakland and doesn't make much of an impact on the field on defense. The Raiders still need to find their presence in the middle to run the defense.
2. Running Back
Latavius Murray is the undisputed lead back in Oakland (barring a shocker selection of Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott) moving forward into his fourth year. His 1,066 yards and 6 TDs rushing propelled the offense next to Derek Carr. Behind him, however, is a newly re-converted CB (Taiwan Jones); the generally ineffective Roy Helu, Jr.; a kickoff return specialist (George Atkinson); and two true fullbacks who added 146 yards on the ground (Jamize Olawale and Marcel Reece). They will need to find a running mate for Murray, and if they get the right man, who can turn the situation into a committee.
Former division rival Sean Smith was an excellent addition to bolster this secondary, but Oakland is lacking depth behind him. David Amerson was a surprisingly impactful signing via Washington last year, but D.J. Hayden has never lived up to his #12 overall selection in 2013. Travis Carrie, Neiko Thorpe and Keith McGill have also had their struggles and all are far too much of developmental prospects to really have an impact on the starting lineup this upcoming year. In such a passing league, there's no situation in which another pass defender would be a bad idea.
Written by the Pro Football Spot Oakland Raiders Staff. Follow us on Twitter: @spot_raiders