Before you know it, the regular will descend upon us. Leading up to that, the Raiders must sort out a few pressing issues. Joining the roundtable today are FPC Raiders writers Ray Aspuria, Chris Simmons and Terrance Biggs
Which AFC West rookie do you believe will give the Raiders the biggest headache in 2018?
Without a doubt, the Denver Broncos’ Bradley Chubb. John Elway has a good shot of landing executive of the year nods with a draft haul in which all he had to do was stand pat and let outstanding prospects fall in his lap. Even if Chubb does not rack up the sacks in his rookie year, he can be disruptive and open things up for Von Miller. Two bookend pass rushers is something every NFL team tries valiantly to attain. Elway got it by being patient and letting the chips fall where they may.
My money is on Derwin James becoming an absolute nightmare for the Raiders moving forward. In many ways, he can replace long time Chargers Safety Eric Weddle who spent almost a decade picking off Oakland Quarterbacks. James has the athletic ability and football acumen to spend time all over the field. Considering that the team will likely continue to lean on their offensive identity there could be plenty of opportunities for disruption. Considering the Raider roster does not currently feature a game breaking Tight End, I would not be surprised if the Chargers played him as the single high safety and let him go to work.
Since Ray chose Chubb, I will say Breeland Speaks. For Speaks, his only reps could arrive in passing situation. Moreover, surrounding him with Smith, Ford, and Houston gives the Chiefs depth. The Raiders must account for him lining up outside or kicking down inside.
While the starting LB spots looks 2/3 complete, which backup do you envision pushing for more snaps?
Prior to Cory James getting the axe, he would have been the most likely bet to crack the rotation and potential even start due to injury. With him gone, and virtually no real depth, the honest answer is that player likely is not on the roster yet. The rookie and UDFA crop did not yield much in the way of linebacker talent so I do not expect there to be much surprise in the lineup. However I would not be terribly surprised to see Arden Key spend time as a rush backer who on occasion buzzes out to the flat. Key could in many ways replace the role Bruce Irvin used to fill as a utility edge linebacker. Key should not spend much time in coverage but on blitzing downs that could be how he gets on the field.
Initially Nicholas Morrow, but I am of the notion he can attain the third starting spot. That said, I would go Emmanuel Lamur. While he only played special teams and spot work the last two seasons, Lamur did have a fine 2014 campaign with the Cincinnati Bengals. He racked up 92 tackles and 2 interceptions that year, and guess what? The defensive coordinator then was Paul Guenther. Lamur knows Guenther’s scheme and has produced in it before.
Without a doubt, Nicholas Morrow makes sense. While Johnson and Whitehead patrol their areas, Morrow will do the same. Blessed with a quicker first step, Morrow can factor in if he minimizes mental errors.
Who do you have more faith in, based on skill sets, Brandon Parker or Kolton Miller and why?
When it comes to linemen, I opt for physical talent over “potential”. While that has not always worked out for the Raiders in the past *ahem Bruce Campbell ahem*. The truth remains that you cannot teach size and talent. While there are certainly well placed suspicions regarding Tom Cable’s ability to coach up a line. If Miller is a hit the Raiders have their 10-year Donald Penn replacement. Parker is a bit more refined and could starter sooner than Miller on the right side but Miller has the makings of a career left tackle
Miller. While Parker has an impressive skillset and toolbox at his disposal, he does not have the same athleticism and movement skills Miller possesses. Miller’s identified weaknesses ends with proper instruction and technique. What cannot be taught however is Miller’s size-speed combination and retention. In a AFC West littered with pass rush talent, Miller’s ability to keep up the speed with his own swiftness while using his 6-foot-9, 300-plus pound frame to combat the power aspect, Miller is further along in the development stage than his third-round counterpart, Parker.
While Miller boasts potential, Parker can step in and operate the right tackle spot without issue. Under Tom Cable Miller need to fix technical flaws like lunging. With that said, the work falls upon both to improve.