To say the national media is low on the Raiders heading into this season is a bit of an understatement. To their credit, the second Jon Gruden-era hasn’t quite gone as planned as the Raiders have yet to make the playoffs.
Unfortunately, many believe that won’t happen anytime soon after the team’s questionable offseason. The Raiders did trade away three proven starters on the offensive line and many believe they still didn’t do enough to address their defense outside of adding Yannick Ngakoue and Casey Hayward Jr.
In a recent article by Pro Football Focus, they ranked all 32 rosters heading into the 2021 season. Not surprisingly, the Raiders came in at No. 26, among the worst in the NFL. Here is what the site had to say about their biggest weakness, which is currently their defensive backfield:
“Despite countless efforts to improve the unit through the draft in recent years, Las Vegas still projects to have one of the worst secondaries in the NFL. The Raiders need to see improvement from several former first-round picks — notably Johnathan Abram and Damon Arnette — under first-year defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. Abram was PFF’s lowest-graded safety in 2020, and Arnette didn’t fare much better at cornerback (sixth-lowest overall grade) in his rookie season.”
While the defensive backfield is certainly a big question mark, you could make a strong case for the offensive line, as well. The Raiders are hopeful that new starters Andre James and Alex Leatherwood can be reliable players right away, but this team needs to have an elite offense to have a chance of making the playoffs this season.
On paper, this isn’t one of the best rosters in the league. But as we all know, games aren’t played on paper. It will be fascinating to see if the Raiders can overcome their talent “deficiencies” this season and improve on their 8-8 season in 2020.