There comes a point in every Raiders preseason where fans become distracted from screaming at the referees during a rerun of a game to find out who will be on the team this year. Since we are not at the point where roster cuts are made, most depth chart announcements will be purely skeptical. Starters are essentially set in stone but the opportunities for changes in deep roster spots are omnipresent.
One position in which the Raiders do not have to worry about deep roster movement is the quarterback. The Raiders are already deep in the position with career quarterback Derek Carr and two impressive backups in Connor Cook and EJ Manuel. Both backup quarterbacks posses the ability to lead the team up the field but lack the skillset to compete with Derek Carr. However, should the Raiders need a backup quarterback to come into the game; Connor Cook should be the one entering the huddle. Throughout the preseason, both quarterbacks appeared to be playing to the best of their abilities. Cook appeared calmer in the pocket. EJ Manuel, however, led some impressive game drives this preseason.
Another position overflowing with talent is wide receiver. Even with the departure of Michael Crabtree this offseason, the Raiders wide receiver corps has potential to do incredible things this year. Despite having the second most dropped passes in the NFL last year, Amari Cooper still has incredible potential. Cooper showed his true potential against the Chiefs. Cooper’s feat places him with Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, and DeAndre Hopkins That group recoded 200 yards in one game in 2017.
While unloading Michael Crabtree, the Raiders signed former Packer Jordy Nelson to the team. Nelson was Aaron Rodgers’ favorite receiver in Green Bay but speculation that Jordy had lost a step or two had arisen and could have assisted in his departure. Since his signing, reports from Raiders’ camp have been nothing short of promising. The Raiders also signed former Steeler Martavis Bryant. Although Bryant has initially struggled with Gruden’s complicated playbook, reports show he is ready. Due to the departure of Ryan Switzer, Seth Roberts will come in at WR4. Johnny Holton will round out the corps as a WR5.
If it was not clear by now, the Raiders offense has the potential to be regarded as a juggernaut. One necessary factor in building a juggernaut squad is having a great offensive line. The Raiders could employ one of the better offensive lines in the league this year. The position most directly influenced by the talent of the offensive line is the running back. Oakland brings back former Seahawk great Marshawn Lynch.
Lynch, despite occasionally being grouped with Jordy Nelson as players the Raiders would have liked to have five years ago, continues to impress. Although nullified by a holding penalty away from the ball, he enjoyed a 60 yard TD run this summer.. The Raiders also added veteran Doug Martin who will back up Lynch as an RB2. Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington are too similar of backs to keep both. Frankly, Richard has seen the playing field more and shows more promise than Washington. Chris Warren III is a versatile player who has been blowing fans and coaches away this preseason.
Like Jordy Nelson, the Raiders tight end hails from Green Bay. Jared Cook is the clear-cut favorite to start at tight end for the Raiders. Cook is a great blocker and can catch the ball just as well. It would not surprise to see Cook and Nelson on the same side of the field. Lee Smith and former Ohio State Buckeye Marcus Baugh will make the team as well.
Whether or not these predictions end up being correct, the Raiders will challenge for a playoff spot.