The Oakland Raiders are a team on the rise. A high-powered offense led by quarterback Derek Carr and wideout Amari Cooper, the Raiders are going to be putting up a ton of points in 2016. On the other side of the ball, Oakland is led by star Khalil Mack who is going to lead a young defense. The Raiders have a real shot at winning the AFC West and knocking the Denver Broncos from their pedestal. Here’s a look at what their roster might look like come week one.
Shockingly, Oakland traded up to select Connor Cook in the fourth round of draft. Derek Carr’s job isn’t in danger at all but Cook will get to sit behind a veteran Matt McGloin and develop.
Running Back (4)
George Atkinson III
Latavius Murray is problem going to be the starter week one. But Deandre Washington is going to have the ball in his hands a lot more than people realize. Washington is made in the mold of Maurice Jones-Drew he will help take a lot of pressure off of Murray. His ability to catch passes out of the backfield is right up head coach Jack Del Rio’s alley.
Olawale is going to be starting at fullback until Marcel Reece returns from his three-game suspension. Even when Reece comes back, the Raiders are going to keep Olawale around. He would fit well in short yardage situations and he signed an extension last season.
Tight End (3)
Walford is one Raider that is poised for a big season. He is going to be a major target for Derek Carr this and hopefully he will be up for the task. Lee Smith is looked upon to block. He does that well and should find himself a spot on this team. Gabe Holmes and Mychal Rivera could find themselves competing for each other for the final tight end spot. Rivera has been with the Raiders since 2013. While Holmes is a very raw, but talented and will need a season or two in development. There is a real chance Oakland keeps all four of these guys, but I went with Rivera because this may be his last shot in silver and black.
Wide Receiver (6)
Cooper, Crabtree and Roberts are going to get the bulk of the targets for Oakland to start the season. However, if Holmes can prove that he can be a reliable deep threat, watch out. This Raiders passing attack is going to be something special.
Offensive Line (8)
There is only one training camp battle on the Raiders offensive line and that bodes well. The right tackle position needs to be decided as Howard or Watson will be trying to get the starting nod. Other than that the Raiders are pretty comfortable with their offensive line situation.
Defensive Line (7)
Mario Edwards Jr.
Williams and Edwards will be leading this squad in 2016. Williams is going to look to build on his production last season and will all of the talent the Raiders front seven has, it’s a safe bet that he can. Oakland is going to hope that they struck gold with Moore who has been a major disappointment so far in his career.
One word to describe the Raiders line backing core: loaded. Mack, Smith and Irvin headline what is arguably Oakland’s best unit. They have two elite pass rushers and solid inside linebackers. It also helps that Mack is productive from both the inside and the outside. They have solid depth as well. Calhoun is another good edge rusher and Toomer can fill-in at middle linebacker if some players go down to injury. Overall, this group is going to wreak havoc in the AFC West.
The Raiders brought in Smith to be their number one cornerback. At this point in time, the Raiders have a lot of decent corners, but not one that can ultimately shutdown a number one receiver. It helps that their front seven is so talented. It will be important to watch if Hayden and Amerson can develop into reliable corners.
I could see the Raiders go five safeties here, but some of their cornerbacks have the ability to fill in at this position if needed. Oakland will start a veteran Nelson next to a rookie Joseph to start the season. The big-hitter Joseph is going to look to crush any receivers flying over the middle. Allen will also provide some good depth he started for Philadelphia from 2010-2014.
Special Teams (3)
K: Sebastian Janikowski
P: Riley Dixon
LS: Andrew East
It’s amazing that Janikowski is still kicking in the NFL, let alone at this level. He is still one of the best in the league. After a big contract extension, Marquette King is going to be back booming punts for Oakland in 2016. There may also be a long-snapping battle between Andrew East and John Condo. I went with the underdog East, but I really don’t have a grasp on long-snapping battles.