For the Oakland Raiders, 2018 cannot arrive fast enough. When Derek Carr fractured his leg a year ago, who could have imagined how much regression an entire franchise would endure over a calendar year? With new coaches, free agents, and draft picks, Oakland looked to take another step on its way into perennial contention. Yet, all the Raiders managed to do is fall apart. Although the team had numerous chances to right itself, circumstance intervened. Now, the Raiders sit with questions.
Will Mario Edwards play a full season in 2018?
When healthy, Edwards gives Oakland another versatile pass rusher than gets penetration. He flashes with burst, violent hands, and quick feet. Yet, the key word remains, healthy. Through no fault of his own, Edwards leaves the field with help during each season. Over the last two, he tallied only 505 snaps. With John Pagano taking the reins, Edwards’ versatility could pay off for the Raiders. Nevertheless, injuries increase as a player ages. In effect, Edwards could thrive with controlled limited snaps. Gone are the days of expecting a full sixteen games. History runs counter to that argument.
Should Jalen Richard return?
During his second season, Richard experience fumbles, drops and a general fog. In contrast, his ability in the offense should supersede the return game. Additionally, his return numbers are not stellar. In 26 punt returns, he averaged ten yards per return only twice this season. Richard excels in the offense. Allow him to shelve the return game, gives him freedom and exposure in the offense.
Did Sean Smith earn another year in Oakland?
Before the firing of Ken Norton, Sean Smith looked to be a former Raider. To the surprise of many, Smith rebounded well, snaring two picks and playing with confidence. On the other hand, his contract makes him expendable. Moreover, why not rebuild the secondary with a mix of new players and veterans. If the Raiders keep Smith, the dynamic stays the same.
How should the Raiders handle the tight end situation?
First, Jared Cook remains locked up as the number one. Second, they could allow Lee Smith to walk. In return, Clive Walford, entering his final year of his rookie deal, could see time. If Oakland saw enough of Cook’s backups, hit the reset. Draft a tight end and see if he could supplant Cook eventually.
While these questions are not the “should the Raiders fire Todd Downing” grade, they represent depth. Depth wins championship. In essence, the Raiders need to focus on the small details, and then tackle the overlaying issues.