2020 NFL Offseason: Las Vegas Raiders

Las Vegas Raiders (Last Year: 7-9)

2020 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
QB Marcus Mariota, RB Devontae Booker, WR Nelson Agholor, TE Jason Witten, TE Nick O’Leary, G Eric Kush, DE Carl Nassib, DT Maliek Collins, DT Daniel Ross, LB Cory Littleton, LB Nick Kwiatkoski, CB Prince Amukamara, S Damarious Randall, S Jeff Heath.
Early Draft Picks:
WR Henry Ruggs, CB Damon Arnette, RB Lynn Bowden, WR Bryan Edwards, S Tanner Muse, G John Simpson. Raiders Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB Mike Glennon, RB DeAndre Washington, G/OT Denzelle Good, DE Benson Mayowa, NT Johnathan Hankins, LB Vontaze Burfict, LB Tahir Whitehead, CB Daryl Worley.

2020 Las Vegas Raiders Offense:
The Raiders spent some energy courting Tom Brady this offseason, and it was easy to see why. Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time, of course, but there was another reason, and that would be that the Raiders are underwhelmed with Derek Carr.

Carr is frustrating, to say the least. He’s capable of having a great game on occasion, but more often than not, he falls into a habit of constantly settling for checkdowns rather than taking the shots he needs to downfield. Given that the Raiders struck out on Brady, it’s not a surprise that they spent lots of money on Marcus Mariota, who will be the highest-paid backup in the first year of his contract at any position this season. Mariota flamed out in Tennessee, but still has some major potential, given that he was the second-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Mariota does to Carr what Ryan Tannehill did to him in 2019.

Given Carr’s tendency to check down too often, it was puzzling to see the Raiders use their initial first-round selection on Henry Ruggs rather than taking a more refined receiver like Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb. The Raiders already had a deep threat in Tyrell Williams, so the Ruggs pick seemed redundant. However, given that the Raiders dealt with the Antonio Brown ordeal last year, it wasn’t a surprise that they spent multiple selections on the position, adding Bryan Edwards in the third frame. Edwards and Ruggs will join Williams and promising slot receiver Hunter Renfrow in a much-improved receiving corps. Meanwhile, tight end Darren Waller should continue to dominate the middle of the field.

The Raiders also used a third-round choice on Lynn Bowden. The Kentucky product was considered a receiver, but the Raiders have decided to list him as a running back. He’ll play on passing downs to complement Josh Jacobs, who is coming off an impressive rookie campaign. The Raiders reportedly want to give Jacobs more passing-game responsibilities.

With an improved supporting cast, there won’t be any excuses for Carr any longer. Carr will once again be protected by a talented offensive line. Trent Brown is one of the better right tackles in the NFL, while center Rodney Hudson and guards Richie Incognito and Gabe Jackson could form a great trio in the interior.

That said, things aren’t perfect up front. Incognito turns 37 this summer, so he could regress. Jackson, meanwhile, has been the subject of trade rumors, so he could be a cap casualty. And then there’s left tackle Kolton Miller, who hasn’t quite lived up to his billing as a first-round pick from the 2018 NFL Draft quite yet. There’s still a chance he could take a big leap in his third season, however.

2020 Las Vegas Raiders Defense:
The Raiders are no strangers to making controversial defensive selections in the opening round of NFL Drafts. This first occurred under general manager Mike Mayock’s watch in 2019 when he spent the fourth-overall choice on Clelin Ferrell. The Clemson product wasn’t bad as a rookie, but he wasn’t special either. Fourth-round rookie Maxx Crosby was the far better defensive end, as he recorded 10 sacks despite missing some time in training camp with a broken hand. Given that Ferrell and Crosby are both so young, they could each make major leaps in production in 2020, though the Raiders wanted to make an upgrade in this area by offering the No. 19 overall pick to Jacksonville for Yannick Ngakoue prior to the draft.

The controversial pick this year was Ohio State’s Damon Arnette at the aforementioned 19th-overall selection. Arnette had some great tape at Ohio State, but teams were worried about his character issues, which is why he was projected to be a second-round pick. He apparently passed the Raiders’ background check, so if he remains clean, he could be a much-needed upgrade at cornerback. Arnette figures to start across from second-year Trayvon Mullen, who had a mediocre rookie campaign. Lamarcus Joyner, manning the slot, is expected to have a much better season after struggling in 2019.

Arnette won’t be the only player getting his first several NFL snaps with the Raiders. The same can be said of 2019 first-rounder Johnathan Abram, who played just one game as a rookie because of a shoulder injury. Assuming Abram comes somewhat close to living up to his draft status, he should form a solid safety duo with former Brown Damarious Randall, who does well in coverage but needs to improve his tackling.

Randall was one of several defensive free agents the Raiders signed. Two others were obtained to bolster a linebacking corps that had been abysmal for countless years. Both Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski will be massive upgrades, particularly the former. Littleton was once just a special-teams star, but he has emerged into one of the best, young linebackers in the NFL. Kwiatkoski didn’t play a full-time role in Chicago, but he has shown that he can be a starter in this league.

The Raiders also brought in another young, budding player, Maliek Collins, to help the interior of the defensive line. This wasn’t even a major need, but Collins is very talented and will help the Raiders’ pass rush. He and Maurice Hurst figure to do a good job of harassing quarterbacks, while P.J. Hall and Johnathan Hankins will clamp down on the run quite well.

2020 Las Vegas Raiders Schedule and Intangibles:
The Black Hole seemed like an intimidating place to play, but the Raiders are a sub-.500 team (91-105) as hosts since 1995. They were 4-3 at home last year, which seems irrelevant now, considering that the Raiders will be moving to Las Vegas this year.

Sebastian Janikowski is long gone, and the Raiders certainly miss him. Daniel Carlson was awful last year, hitting just 19-of-26 attempts. He was 0-of-2 from beyond 50.

The Raiders had more success punting. A.J. Cole was just 26th in net average, but did a great job of pinning the opposition inside the 20.

Oakland had mediocre special teams last year. The team outgained the opposition on kick returns, but was worse on punts.

The Raiders have an impossible schedule to begin the year. Following an easy game against the Panthers, they have to take on the Saints, Patriots (road), vastly improved Bills, Chiefs (road), Buccaneers and presumably improved Browns (road). Things get easier after that, but a slow start could bury Las Vegas.

2020 Las Vegas Raiders Rookies:
Go here for the Raiders Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.

2020 Las Vegas Raiders Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2020 Las Vegas Raiders Analysis: If the Raiders had strong play at quarterback, they’d be favored to reach the playoffs. They have a promising supporting cast, a strong offensive line and an improved defense. Derek Carr is the primary question mark. If he continues to be inconsistent and conservative, the Raiders will miss out on the postseason once again. If, however, Carr does better with an improved receiving corps, or if Marcus Mariota does a good job of replacing the incumbent, the Raiders could find themselves in the playoffs in their first year in Las Vegas.

Projection: 8-8 (Tied 2nd in AFC West)

2019 Projection: 3-13. 2019 Actual Result: 7-9.
2018 Projection: 10-6. 2018 Actual Result: 4-12.
2017 Projection: 12-4. 2017 Actual Result: 6-10.
2016 Projection: 9-7. 2016 Actual Result: 12-4.

NFL Draft Team Grade: C- Grade

Goals Entering the 2020 NFL Draft: The Raiders are ready to contend now. They have some major needs, like receiver, linebacker and cornerback, but they have a pair of first-round picks to fill two of those. Whatever they do, they must come out of the 2020 NFL Draft with a repaired receiving corps after what transpired with Antonio Brown last year.

2020 NFL Draft Accomplishments: There were reports heading into the 2020 NFL Draft that the Raiders loved CeeDee Lamb. It turned out that Lamb was available for them, but they decided not to select him. They went with Henry Ruggs instead, which seemed like a very dubious decision. Countless 4.2X receivers have busted in the NFL, and Ruggs isn’t nearly as refined of a receiver as Lamb is. Meanwhile, the other first-round pick, Damon Arnette, was a huge reach at No. 19. He was expected to be a second-round pick.

Despite selecting Ruggs at No. 12 overall, the Raiders spent their next two picks on receivers, Lynn Bowden and Bryan Edwards. I don’t mind either prospect, but it seemed ridiculous to use three selections in the first three rounds on wideouts when Tyrell Williams and Hunter Renfrow were on the roster. The Raiders had one other pick in the third frame, and that was another reach, Tanner Muse.

It’s nice that the Raiders addressed some of their needs, but I don’t understand their strategy of either taking raw players or reaching on prospects. They did this last year with Clelin Ferrell and it didn’t pan out, so for those who will criticize this grade, there is precedent for this formula failing.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

12. Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama – D Grade
The Raiders had both Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb fall into their laps, and they went with Henry Ruggs? Ugh, I don’t know about this. Jeudy and Lamb are such great, polished route runners, while Ruggs is just all speed. He has great upside, but he’s a raw receiver. He has the greatest chance of busting out of the top three wideouts, and that’s not good news for the No. 12 overall pick.

19. Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State – O’BRIEN Grade
Ladies and gentlemen, our first O’Brien grade of the night! Damon Arnette is someone I had in the first round of my mock draft in some updates – at No. 32 to Kansas City. Otherwise, he’s been marooned in the second frame. Arnette is certainly talented, but he has off-the-field issues. Given that Mike Mayock values high-character guys, this is a very strange pick that makes no sense outside of need. This is an “F” grade all the way.

80. Lynn Bowden Jr., WR, Kentucky – B+ Grade
It can’t be a surprise that the Raiders addressed receiver once again. This was such a weak area for them last year that they had to double up on the position. Lynn Bowden is an explosive player who can play multiple positions, so he can only improve the Raiders’ offense.

81. Bryan Edwards, WR, South Carolina – D Grade
OK, this is just overkill. Two receivers made sense, but three, with Tyrell Williams and Hunter Renfrow already on the roster? I get that the Raiders must have really liked Bryan Edwards to do this – and I have no qualms with the player – but the Raiders have other needs they had to address.

100. Tanner Muse, S, Clemson – D Grade
Tanner Muse blew up the combine, so he would’ve been someone Al Davis would have considered in the second round. The Raiders showed more restraint, though this still seems like a reach. I had Muse in the sixth round of my 2020 NFL Mock Draft, so the Raiders could’ve waited for him.

109. John Simpson, G, Clemson – B+ Grade
The Raiders traded up about a dozen picks for John Simpson. There’s a decent chance he wouldn’t have been available at their selection, so I think this is a fine move. The Raiders are shopping Gabe Jackson, and Simpson is talented enough to start in place of Jackson on Day 1.

139. Amik Robertson, CB, Louisiana Tech – B Grade
If it wasn’t for injury concerns, Amik Robertson may have been chosen earlier than this. I had him slotted in the fifth round, but he makes sense here as a player with upside who can fill a position of need.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Season Summary:
The Raiders were more competitive in Jon Gruden’s second year, but were still too limited with Derek Carr at the helm. They’ll make a big leap if they can find an upgrade over Carr.

Offseason Moves:
  • Raiders sign CB Prince Amukamara
  • Raiders sign S Damarious Randall
  • Raiders sign DT Daniel Ross
  • Raiders sign TE Nick O’Leary
  • Raiders sign WR Nelson Agholor
  • Raiders sign G Eric Kush
  • Raiders sign DE Carl Nassib
  • Raiders sign S Jeff Heath
  • Raiders sign DT Maliek Collins
  • Raiders sign TE Jason Witten
  • Raiders sign LB Nick Kwiatkoski
  • Raiders sign QB Marcus Mariota
  • Raiders sign LB Cory Littleton

    Team Needs:
    1. Two Linebackers: The Raiders’ defense has been horrific for quite some time, and the one constant has been the dreadful play of the linebackers. Two upgrades are needed at the position. Signed Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski

    2. Cornerback: The secondary must be upgraded as well. Las Vegas must find a legitimate No. 1 cornerback. Signed Prince Amukamara

    3. Wide Receiver: The Raiders’ plans to have Antonio Brown as the No. 1 receiver went awry, so they’ll have to find a new top wideout, perhaps in the loaded 2020 NFL Draft class. Signed Nelson Agholor

    4. Quarterback: Derek Carr is not the long-term answer, so the Raiders may select a quarterback on Day 2 to challenge the incumbent. Signed Marcus Mariota

    5. Edge Rusher: Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell both have plenty of promise, but Las Vegas could use another potent edge rusher for its rotation. Signed Carl Nassib

    6. Backup Running Back: DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard are both impending free agents, so one will need to be re-signed.

    7. Kicker: Daniel Carlson is headed for free agency, but he wasn’t that accurate anyway.

    8. Punter: A.J. Cole was one of the worst punters in the NFL last year.

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2020 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Cory Littleton, LB, Rams. Age: 26.
      Signed with Raiders (3 years, $36 million)

      Cory Littleton has transformed from a special-teams standout to a stellar linebacker. Littleton is spectacular in coverage and holds up well against the run.

    2. Nick Kwiatkoski, LB, Bears. Age: 27.
      Signed with Raiders

      Danny Trevathan got hurt during the season, but it didn’t matter very much because Nick Kwiatkoski stepped in and played on a high level. He’ll be entering just his fifth year in the league, so there’s definitely reason to believe he could continue to improve.

    3. Maliek Collins, DT, Cowboys. Age: 25.
      Signed with Raiders

      Maliek Collins puts good pressure on opposing quarterbacks in the interior of the trenches. He’ll be just 25 in April, so there’s a chance he’ll make a big leap in production.

    4. Prince Amukamara, CB, Bears. Age: 31.
      Signed with Raiders

      Prince Amukamara turns 31 this offseason, so regression is coming soon. He played well this past year, but wasn’t the same, talented corner of old. Amukamara also has an extensive injury history – he hasn’t played a full season since 2013 – so he’ll have to sign nothing but 1-year “prove it” contracts going forward.

    5. Carl Nassib, DE, Buccaneers. Age: 27.
      Signed with Raiders

      Carl Nassib is just a mediocre pass rusher, but he’s been excellent in run support. Nassib turns 27 in April, so he could improve his pass-rushing ability.

    6. Damarious Randall, S, Browns. Age: 28.
      Signed with Raiders (1 year)

      Damarious Randall is a well-rounded, solid safety. He missed a game late in the year due to a coaching decision, so that must be investigated before a team signs him.

    7. Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans. Age: 26.
      Signed with Raiders

      Marcus Mariota failed in Tennessee, but he’s still young (27 in October) and talented enough to have successful elsewhere. Some team will give him another chance, and Mariota could succeed if the scheme is friendly for him.

    8. Jeff Heath, S, Cowboys. Age: 29.
      Signed with Raiders (2 years, $8 million)

      Jeff Heath is a passable starting safety, who probably should be a high-end backup. Safety has been a need for the Cowboys for a reason.

    9. Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys. Age: 38.
      Signed with Raiders (1 year, $4.75 million)

      Jason Witten is a reliable receiver, but also a plodding player at this stage of his career. He’s still very good at blocking, so he still has some worth at his age.

    10. Nelson Agholor, WR, Eagles. Age: 27. — Signed with Raiders
    11. Eric Kush, G, Browns. Age: 30. — Signed with Raiders
    12. Nick O’Leary, TE, Jaguars. Age: 28. — Signed with Raiders
    13. Daniel Ross (RFA), DT, Cowboys. Age: 27. — Signed with Raiders

    Las Vegas Raiders Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Daryl Worley, CB, Raiders. Age: 25.
      Saying that Daryl Worley was one of the top cornerbacks on the Raiders’ roster last year isn’t exactly a compliment, but that was the case with Worley, who is only 25.

    2. DeAndre Washington, RB, Raiders. Age: 27.
      DeAndre Washington did a solid job replacing Josh Jacobs in a couple of games late in the year. He’s a decent runner with nice pass-catching ability.

    3. Johnathan Hankins, NT, Raiders. Age: 28.
      Johnathan Hankins’ pass-rushing ability has declined in recent years, but he’s still a monstrous run stuffer.

    4. Denzelle Good, G/OT, Raiders. Age: 29.
      Denzelle Good is a premium backup offensive lineman, as he can play both guard and right tackle without hurting his team.

    5. Mike Glennon, QB, Raiders. Age: 30.
      Mike Glennon failed as a full-time starter in Chicago, but he’s still a top-tier backup and a capable spot starter. Glennon turns 31 in December.

    6. Vontaze Burfict, LB, Raiders. Age: 29.
      Vontaze Burfict is shockingly not even 30 yet, but he has regressed in recent seasons. He was also suspended for a whole year, so that’s a problem.

    7. Benson Mayowa, DE, Raiders. Age: 29. — Signed with Seahawks (1 year, $3 million)
    8. Jalen Richard, RB, Raiders. Age: 26. — Re-signed with Raiders
    9. Tahir Whitehead, OLB, Raiders. Age: 30. — Signed with Panthers
    10. Nevin Lawson, CB, Raiders. Age: 29.
    11. Josh Mauro, DE, Raiders. Age: 29.
    12. Jordan Devey, G, Raiders. Age: 32. — Re-signed with Raiders
    13. Dion Jordan, DE, Raiders. Age: 30.
    14. Isaiah Crowell, RB, Raiders. Age: 27.
    15. Dwayne Harris, WR/KR, Raiders. Age: 32.
    16. Curtis Riley, S, Raiders. Age: 28.
    17. Daniel Carlson (RFA), K, Raiders. Age: 25.
    18. Nicholas Morrow (RFA), OLB, Raiders. Age: 25. — Tendered by Raiders (original)
    19. Will Compton, ILB, Raiders. Age: 30.
    20. Rod Smith, RB, Raiders. Age: 28. — Re-signed with Raiders

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
    QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors

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