With the season still four months away, now is the time to get wild speculation out and over with. The Raiders could embark on a memorable season.
Jon Gruden, the Oakland Raiders’ savior? Perhaps.
This much is true: Gruden is an extremely well-compensated head coach with a 10-year, (reportedly) $100-million deal.
This leads us into the shenanigans — Way Too Early Predictions.
- The Raiders will win 10 or more games. Sure, the schedule is set in stone and optimism is off the charts. Yet, the Raiders roster is far from complete. Not a soul outside the organization witnessed single play from Gruden’s offense or Guenther’s defense. Sure, the parity in the NFL is helter-skelter, and there are less and less givens year in and year out. Nevertheless, it is way too early to proclaim a win-loss record, fair or foul.
- Gareon Conley is the next great Raiders corner. The brief glimpses gave us the good, the bad, and ugly of the 2017 first rounder in a truncated rookie year. A mysterious shin injury shelved Conley after he made one great leaping deflection before getting worked by the Redskins and eventually shelved. Many lauded him as a sound cover corner, but he has a lot to prove.
- Obi Melifonwu is a bust. Like his first-round compatriot, the freakishly sized and athletic safety had a short-lived rookie campaign. In that window, the team use misused as an outside corner, ouch. There are murmurs his love for the game is questionable, yet, it is too early to write the second-round pick off. Guenther is the right coach that can sync Melifonwu’s physical and mental psyche and bring out the best.
- Drafting Maurice Hurst is a mistake. This one was the scuttlebutt of the league after unnamed sources lambasted Oakland for taking the defensive tackle with a heart ailment. Michigan and Harvard doctors cleared Hurst, and he will continue to receive checkups. It is too early to call it a misfire. Conversely, it is too early to say the other 31 teams made a mistake passing on Hurst.
- The Raiders cannot afford Khalil Mack. General manager Reggie McKenzie has expertly doled out contracts to ensure the Raiders have the finances to lock down their best defensive player. Just look at what happened recently. Oakland converted a majority of center Rodney Hudson’s base salary into a bonus to create cap room. McKenzie has optimal flexibility to lock down Mack and others in the future.