Oakland Raiders 2014: Ten Thoughts for the Off Season

David Wilson – Feb 13, 2014

The only good thing about the off season is that every team has hope for next year. Free agency and the draft can go a long way in turning a franchise around in one off season (as long as you aren’t in salary cap jail like the last two years for Oakland).

There needs to be that big difference in Oakland this off season, or likely Reggie Mckenzie and Dennis Allen will both be looking for jobs.

Based on my own musings and other fan posts so far, here are my random questions, answers, and propositions.

1. Why is no one talking about tight end as an area of need on this roster? Jeron Mastrud was a joke as a starter (4 receptions, 71 yards in 555 snaps), and Mychal Rivera is a third down guy only. A power running game needs an every down tight end, and this draft is rich in them. David Ausberry? Think again.

2. Left defensive end is the biggest need area on the defensive in terms of pass rush. Jason Hunter and Jack Crawford his backup might have been average against the run, but they were non-existent in getting to the quarterback. Will Smith (released this week by New Orleans) worked with Dennis Allen at the Saints. Don’t be surprised to see him land in Oakland. He would be very much an upgrade, and could fill the spot for a year or two while the team builds through the draft.

3. With Jared Veldheer at one tackle spot (hopefully), Tony Pashos/Menelik Watson at the other, and a surprisingly good Matt McCants also seeing playing time, is Khalif Barnes going to be the odd man out come final cut down in 2014?

4. Will people please stop quoting Dennis Allen as saying that the quarterback of the future is ‘not on the roster’. He didn’t say that, he said ‘may not be on the roster’. They are two completely different things.

5. Another thing that is very annoying is people calling for the Raiders to sign Alex Mack from Cleveland to play center, because ‘Stefan Wisniewski is better suited to guard’. Wiz is not better suited to guard, and has been a top five center for Oakland last year. His best position by far is center. With all these holes on the roster and Wiz playing this well, some people really see center as an area of need?

6. Signing Kory Sheets from the CFL has made real sense. The Raiders have Latavius Murray back in 2014, and if they can resign Rashad Jennings too then the running back position will be rich in talent.

7. If Matt McGloin had been say, a second round pick, would everyone be anointing him as the future of the franchise? After all, his rookie season brought him a higher rating than Peyton Manning in his first year. This kid has something, and is worth keeping around.

8. If you are looking for the best scheme fit for the Raiders at pick number five, look at outside linebacker Khalil Mack from Buffalo. He is a great pass rusher, but strong in the run and the passing game too. A perfect fit for Jason Tarver’s multiple system, and a real difference maker on every down.

9. Given the level of cap space that Oakland has, and the free agents already on the market, it isn’t difficult to see this team getting a lot better very quickly with a full draft on top of that. I say that because there is some talent on this unit, but also some gaping holes (left defensive end, right guard, tight end) that held the Raiders back in a big way last year.

10. Outside of any other considerations, the Raiders have to significantly upgrade their offensive and defensive lines this off season. If they don’t, any other upgrades will have little effect.

What I love about the NFL (and American sports in general) is that even in the off season, you have the draft, salary cap issues, the Combine, and College All Star Games to keep you occupied until football comes around again.

I truly believe that Oakland has the chance to turn it around this year, even in a division where they were the only team not to make the playoffs, and have the league’s toughest schedule.

Believe Raider Nation!

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