The hopes of an Oakland Raiders Super Bowl ring were shattered on Christmas Eve 2016, when quarterback Derek Carr broke his leg. A year later on Christmas, Carr appeared as a shell of his former self, underwhelming in a 19-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. At 6-9, the Raiders are very different from the AFC contenders they were predicted to be. Promoting quarterback coach Todd Downing to offensive coordinator had drastic effects, regressing as a unit. It also magnified the gaping holes of the Raiders’ offense. Here are three players the Raiders can select in the draft to help get the offense back on track.
- Michael Gallup (Colorado State) – Pro Bowl wideout Amari Cooper is set to finish with his worst statistical season of his young career. Battling injuries and inconsistency, Cooper has just 45 receptions and 565 yards through 16 weeks. Through three seasons, Cooper has flashed signs of greatness, but has not quite joined the group of the elites. Gallup is the perfect wideout to challenge Cooper, a rare combination of speed, route running, and great hands. Moreover, that is exactly what the Raiders need. They have led the league in drops for two years in a row. Best-case scenario, Cooper steps it up and beats out the rookie pushing Gallup into the slot. Worst-case scenario, Cooper slides to the slot, where even with his drops, he is much more dangerous than Seth Roberts.
- Brandon Parker (North Carolina A&T) – Raiders left tackle Donald Penn currently resides on injured reserve in Week 15, leaving rookie David Sharpe to finish the season. Despite making another Pro Bowl, Penn is 34, and the end may be near sooner than later. On the other side of the line, free agent acquisition Marshall Newhouse has struggled. With Carr jittery in the pocket, it will take a lot to regain his confidence. Securing a solid tackle that Carr can build with is key. Unfortunately, Sharpe may not be it. Brandon Parker has shot up draft boards, not allowing a single sack in four years at A&T. Parker is agile with good strength and technique, a great prospect for offensive line coach Mike Tice. Even if Penn comes back 100 percent, Parker is more than capable of moving to the right side.
- Mark Andrews (Oklahoma) – In signing tight end Jared Cook, Derek Carr finally seemed to have a reliable, athletic tight end to stretch the field. For the most part, Cook delivered, putting up his best statistical season since 2013. Nevertheless, Cook is 30, with just one year left on his contract. The Raiders need to think for the future, as Carr secured a long-term deal. Continuing to put building blocks around the franchise quarterback has to be the primary focus. At Oklahoma, Andrews showed the ability to get open and create, as well as execute as a run blocker. Every great quarterback has a great tight end, and this is Carr’s chance to get one for the future