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Oakland Raiders 2018 Season Preview




Chris Ransom follow @DraftUtopia Posted on 8/25/2018.


Oakland Raiders Free Agency Recap


Oakland got Jordy Nelson from Green Bay in Free Agency at wide receiver to replace Michael Crabtree. Oakland got Doug Martin to compliment Marshawn Lynch at running back. Oakland got Tahir Whitehead as their starting 4-3 right outside linebacker who played for the Detroit Lions last season. They also added Derrick Johnson at middle linebacker from the Kansas City Chiefs as well as Emmanuel Lamur as a 4-3 left outside linebacker. Oakland also added a ton of cornerback depth in Free Agency by signing Rashaan Melvin to pair up with Gareon Conley. Oakland also added Leon Hall, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Shareece Wright for depth.



Oakland Raiders Draft Recap


The Raiders got Kolton Miller as a starting offensive tackle out of UCLA. They also drafted two defensive tackles P.J. Hall out of Sam Houston State in the second round and Maurice Hurst in the sixth round. Oakland drafted LSU pass rusher Arden Key who may be rushed into the starting lineup if Khalil Mack's holdout lingers into the regular season.




Oakland Raiders Quarterback Summary: Derek Carr has been a remarkable quarterback for Oakland. Connor Cook and E.J. Manuel have both shown they can be effective backups in the preseason. The thing is both quarterbacks still suck compared to Carr.


Greg Olson is now the offensive coordinator for the Oakland Raiders after previously being the quarterbacks coach with the Los Angeles Rams. Olson worked with Carr during Carr's rookie season. Brian Callahan was the quarterbacks coach on the Detroit Lions. Now he's working with the Oakland Raiders as their quarterbacks coach.


Oakland Raiders Running Back Summary: Marshawn Lynch is going to be the feature running back in Oakland's offense. The Raiders also brought in Doug Martin to compliment him. So they may be going away from a featured running back offense to a running back by committee type of thing with Lynch and Martin complimenting each other.


Running back coach Jemal Singleton was the running backs coach with the Indianapolis Colts. He's actually an upgrade over what the Raiders currently have.


Oakland Raiders Wide Receiver Summary: Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson are Oakland's top two targets. Seth Russell is a great slot receiver. Martavis Bryant is a huge upgrade over Cordarrelle Patterson and is even pushing Russell to the limit for that slot receiver job.


Jon Gruden coached wide receivers in Green Bay before becomming an offensive coordinator. The reason Gruden brought in Nelson is because he has the attitude, leadership, and similar scheme fit for what Gruden wants in a receiver. Edgar Bennett was the running backs coach, wide receivers coach, and offensive coordinator with the Green Bay Packers. Adding Bennett was a great move by Gruden since he already has familiarity with Nelson.


Oakland Raiders Tight End Summary: Jared Cook Jr. is the starting tight end. Oakland lacks depth at tight end with Jared Cook Jr being the only reliable tight end. Frank Smith spent the past three seasons as the offensive line coach.


Oakland Raiders Offensive Line Summary: Oakland has one of the leagues strongest offensive lines. The Raiders have Donald Penn at left tackle, Kelechi Osmele at left guard, Rodney Hudson at center, Gabe Jackson at right guard, and Kolton Miller at right tackle.


Kolton Miller has been doing well enough to push Donald Penn for the left tackle job. Penn has shown he can adjust to the right tackle spot if the Raiders make Kolton Miller, Carr's new blindside. I think Penn will ultimately remain at left tackle though. Oakland also has David Sharpe, Breno Giancomini, and Brandon Parker their third round pick for depth at offensive tackle too.


Oakland went from having Mike Tice as their offensive line coach to replacing him with Tom Cable. Tom Cable coached the offensive line that paved the way for Marshawn Lynch in Seattle.


The Raiders offense clicked in 2016. Thanks to adding a lot more depth at running back, wide receiver, and offensive tackle, I expect Oakland's offense to be a top 15 offense in points scored, total yards, passing yards, and rushing yards.



Oakland Raiders Defensive Line Summary: Khalil Mack is one of the leagues best 4-3 right ends, but he's on a holdout until he gets a contract extension. Oakland moved Mario Edwards Jr. to 4-3 defensive tackle and Justin Ellis is expected to compliment him. Oakland was so deseprate for an edge player next to Mack that they moved Bruce Irvin back to 4-3 left end where he originally started out.


Oakland also has three rookies on the defensive line that are already getting second team reps. P.J. Hall their 2018 second round pick out of Sam Houston State is a depth player behind Mario Edwards Jr. at the moment. Arden Key their third round pick out of LSU is a backup to Bruce Irvin at the moment. If Khalil Mack's holdout continues into the regular season then Arden Key may be rushed into the lineup. If any of these rookies can win starting jobs, it will strengthen Oakland's defensive line immensely.


Mike Trgovac is a good defensive line coach. He was the Packers defensive line coach from 2009-2017 before Gruden lured him away to the Oakland Raiders.


Oakland Raiders Linebacker Summary: Oakland has a much stronger linebacker core as I mentioned in the Free Agency recap. Having Tahir Whitehead at 4-3 right outside linebacker, Derrick Johnson at 4-3 middle linebacker, and Emmanuel Lamur at 4-3 left outside linebacker gives Oakland a very deadly linebacking core if everyone stays healthy. Oakland is much thinner at linebacker when it comes to depth though.


Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther is awesome at developing linebackers. He was the Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator in each of the past four seasons. David Lippincott who served under Guenther as the linebackers coach in Cincinnati joins Guenther in Oakland.


Oakland Raiders Defensive Backs Summary: Gareon Conley is the field cornerback. Oakland has Rashaan Melvin at boundary cornerback. The Raiders also have Leon Hall and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie pushing each other for the nickel cornerback spot. Whoever doesn't win that job will be the dime cornerback. Oakland also has Shareece Wright and Daryl Worley competing for the quarter cornerback job.


Oakland has Erik Smith at strong safety and Karl Joseph at strong safety for depth. Marcus Gilchrist and Reggie Nelson are competing with each other for the free safety job. Now that Obi Melifonwu got cut, free safety may end up being a need for the Raiders in the future. Erik Smith is showing Jon Gruden the leadership he wants to see which is why Karl Joseph may get moved to the bench despite being a 2016 first round pick out of West Virginia.


Derrick Ansley is the defensive backs coach. This was another coach that Gruden brought in for his regime with the Oakland Raiders.


Oakland has a very good linebacking core. I think the run defense could be a top 10 unit. They also have a stronger pass defense. At the same time, Oakland has nobody outside of Khalil Mack who can dominate off the edge.



Oakland Raiders Special Teams Summary: Oakland has Florida Gators teammates Eddy Pinehiro and Johnny Townsend as their new kicker and punter. The Raiders have Dwayne Harris as their return specialist.




Oakland Raiders Worst Case Scenario: The Oakland Raiders go 6-10 and struggle thanks to bone-headed coaching decisions that Jon Gruden made.


Oakland Raiders Best Case Scenario: Oakland goes 14-2 and Jon Gruden takes this talented Oakland Raiders team to Super Bowl 53 right out of the gate. Oakland has the upside to be that good, but everything has to click for them. Mack and Penn have to play week 1. Everything has to click for Oakland if this happens. The odds of everything clicking like that are stacked against the Oakland Raiders.


Oakland Raiders 2018 NFL Schedule


Week
Date
Opponent
Time
Cable Network
Result
Week 1
September 9
VS
10:20 PM EST
CBS
W
Week 2
September 16
AT
4:25 PM EST
CBS
L
Week 3
September 23
AT
1 PM EST
CBS
W
Week 4
September 30
VS
4:05 PM EST
CBS
W
Week 5
October 7
AT
4:05 PM EST
CBS
L
Week 6
October 14
VS
1 PM EST
CBS
W
Week 7
Bye Week
Week 8
October 28
VS
4:05 PM EST
CBS
W
Week 9
November 1
AT
8:25 PM EST
NBC
L
Week 10
November 11
VS
4:05 PM EST
CBS
W
Week 11
November 18
AT
4:05 PM EST
CBS
L
Week 12
November 25
AT
4:25 PM EST
CBS
L
Week 13
December 2
VS
4:05 PM EST
CBS
W
Week 14
December 9
VS
8:20 PM EST
NBC
W
Week 15
December 16
AT
1 PM EST
CBS
L
Week 16
December 24
VS
8:15 PM EST
ESPN
W
Week 17
December 30
AT
1 PM EST
CBS
L


Oakland Raiders 2018 Projected Record (9-7): Both Oakland and the Los Angeles Chargers went 9-7. I also have the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs at 8-8 with the Raiders winning the AFC West over the Chargers due to being 3-3 versus division opponents. I have Denver going 5-0 to begin the year before falling apart. The point is, the AFC West will probably be the most compettitive division in the NFL.


I got Oakland beating the Houston Texans in a rematch of the wild card game they played two years ago. If Carr is facing Watson and both quarterbacks are heatlhy, I like Carr and Oakland to come through. Oakland may be able to go into the Divisional Round and steal another game on the road against the AFC team with home field, but I'll reveal whether they pull that off in another AFC Season Preview.







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