Despite the preseason overflowing with drama and excitement, the Oakland Raiders have come out completely flat in 2018 and the hopes of getting the first pick in the draft are beginning to solidify. While it may pain fans to admit, the Raiders’ season is not going to improve much, especially with team chemistry at what appears to be an all-time low.
Positively, having close to zero playoff hopes allows Raider Nation to begin looking forward to the future. The Raiders have five first round picks over the next two years. Obviously, draft picks can be busts or show incredible promise. Nevertheless, this is unimportant, as the Raiders do not need to wait for the 2019 draft to begin thinking about their future, as some rookies from the 2018 draft are beginning to show promise.
One rookie started impressing coaches straight from training camp. The team drafting OL Kolton Miller with the 15th pick overall in the 2018 draft came as a surprise to some, as many fans expected the team to address their defensive needs first. However, Miller was quick to silence the doubters and stun the coaches with how quickly he was progressing. Unfortunately, Miller deals with various injuries throughout the season, including a Grade II MCL sprain, which severely hampered his productivity. Outlook for Miller’s career is still quite positive, but it appears that he simply needs to either sit out a few games or wait for the offseason to fully recover.
The biggest value pick from the 2018 draft was Maurice Hurst, DT from Michigan. Regarded as a second-round talent, Hurst fell to the fifth round due to an unpredictable heart condition. While the Raiders recorded eight sacks on the season, Hurst tallied three of them. On one side, having a rookie lead the team in sacks can be disappointing, as questions arise about what the more experienced players have been doing. Nevertheless, on the positive side, a rookie leading the team in sacks shows incredible promise for the future.
The biggest disappointment for the Raiders this season has been the special teams unit. Jon Gruden released Giorgio Tavecchio and P Marquette King. In their stead, Eddy Piniero (IR) , K Matt McCrane and P Johnny Townsend, took over. Since then, the replacements have severely disappointed. McCrane (released) succeeded at a 55% (abysmal) rate. Townsend averages of 42 yards per punt.
The Raiders clearly have their struggles in which they have to deal with from now until kickoff next season. Yet, with their rookies and handful of first round draft picks, fortunes change. There is a lot to look forward to with the Las Vegas Raiders. As sad as it may sound, 2016 saw the last Oakland playoff team. Plus, it appears this was Gruden’s plan all along.