2024 NFL Season Preview: Las Vegas Raiders

Maxx Crosby

Las Vegas Raiders (Last Year: 8-9)

Season Summary:
The Raiders were much better in the second half of the season after they fired Josh McDaniels. Their defense was excellent, and they even had a chance to reach the playoffs.

2024 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
QB Gardner Minshew, RB Alexander Mattison, TE Harrison Bryant, DT Christian Wilkins.
Early Draft Picks:
TE Brock Bowers, C Jackson Powers-Johnson, OT Delmar Glaze, CB Decamerion Richardson, LB Tommy Eichenberg. Raiders Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB Jimmy Garoppolo, RB Josh Jacobs, FB Jakob Johnson, WR Hunter Renfrow, TE Austin Hooper, OT Jermaine Eluemunor, OT Brandon Parker, G Greg Van Roten, DT John Jenkins, DT Jerry Tillery, CB Amik Robertson.

2024 Las Vegas Raiders Offense:
The Raiders thought they had a tough decision to make with the 13th pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. They believed Michael Penix Jr. would be available, so they wondered if they should draft him there or wait until the second round. Atlanta ended up making that choice for the Raiders by selecting him eighth overall. The Raiders, as a consequence, will head into the 2024 season with Gardner Minshew and Aidan O’Connell as their two quarterbacks.

Minshew is a solid game manager who nearly led the Colts into the playoffs last year. O’Connell is a second-year player who had his ups and downs as a rookie after taking over for the anemic Jimmy Garoppolo. Minshew is the favorite to start, but O’Connell could take the job if he impresses over the summer. O’Connell thrived at times last year, but struggled as well because of poor blocking.

The Raiders made sure to upgrade the supporting cast around the two quarterbacks. They used their second pick in the draft on Jackson Powers-Johnson, who will provide a much-needed boost in the interior of the offensive line. Powers-Johnson will join Andre James and Dylan Parham in that area. James has blossomed into one of the top centers in the NFL, while Parham is a former third-round pick with some potential.

The best player on the Raiders’ offensive line is Kolton Miller, a tremendous blind-side protector. Right tackle is a concern, as Thayer Munford tends to struggle in pass protection. The Raiders used another early draft pick on an offensive lineman, picking Delmar Glaze, who could challenge Munford for the job.

As for the Raiders’ top pick, it was also used to help the offense. Brock Bowers simply provided way too much value for the Raiders to pass on him at No. 13 overall. Michael Mayer was drafted last year, but he struggled and was deemed a sunk cost. Bowers is an athletic freak and a mismatch weapon who will be a tremendous intermediate threat for either Minshew or O’Connell. He’ll form a terrific trio with Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers.

Despite all the positives discussed thus far, the Raiders didn’t upgrade their entire offense. They lost Josh Jacobs to free agency, so their running game won’t be nearly as potent. Zamir White looked good in relief last year, but he won’t be able to match Jacobs’ production. Alexander Mattison was signed for depth purposes, but he was a huge disappointment last year as Minnesota’s replacement for Dalvin Cook.

2024 Las Vegas Raiders Defense:
The Raiders pulled an upset over the Chiefs on Christmas last year despite their quarterback failing to complete a single pass in the final three quarters. The reason was the defense, which scored a pair of touchdowns on consecutive plays. The Raiders defense was stellar last year, ranking seventh in EPA. And yet, it could even be better in 2024.

Las Vegas possessed one of the top pass rushes in the NFL this past season. Everyone knows about Maxx Crosby, who recorded 14.5 sacks in 2023 after notching 12.5 the prior year. He was bookended by the up-and-coming Malcolm Koonce, who chipped in with eight sacks as a 25-year-old. The Raiders’ pass rush will improve in 2024, but not just because Koonce will have more experience. They’ll be able to generate a pass rush in the interior as well because they obtained Christian Wilkins in free agency. The former Dolphin tallied nine sacks in 2023, so he’ll give the Raiders an element they didn’t even possess last year despite their high rankings.

The explosive pass rush will make things easier for a secondary that was in need of an upgrade this offseason, but didn’t get one. Cornerback play is the major question mark. Jack Jones performed well with the Raiders last year, albeit on a small sample size. Jakorian Bennett, a 2023 fourth-round pick, is projected to be the other starter, though fourth-round rookie Decamerion Richardson will battle for the job. The best corner on the roster is Nate Hobbs, who does a terrific job of covering in the slot.

The Raiders are better at safety than cornerback, and not just by default. Marcus Epps is a mediocre player, but Tre’von Moehrig took a big step last year. A former second-round pick, Moehrig had an injury-ravaged start to his career, but he managed to stay on the field last year. He thrived as a result, so there’s a good chance that will continue heading into 2024.

Las Vegas also happens to have quality play at linebacker. This hadn’t been the case for a long time, but that changed when Robert Spillane was signed over from the Steelers. Spillane was outstanding for the Raiders last year, as new head coach Antonio Pierce got the most out of him. Divine Deable is as pedestrian as they come for a second linebacker, so perhaps fifth-round rookie Tommy Eichenberg will challenge for playing time.

2024 Las Vegas Raiders Schedule and Intangibles:
Daniel Carlson has been a brilliant kicker for the Raiders over the past four years. He has drilled at least 91.9 percent of his attempts in each of the first three seasons. He was even 11-of-13 from 50-plus in 2022! Last year, Carlson was 26-of-30, but attempted only three 50-plus kicks.

A.J. Cole has ranked in the top five of net punting in each of the previous three seasons. He was first in 2023, and he also did a great job of pinning the oppositon inside the 20.

The Raiders have a number of tough games on their schedule because they reside in the AFC. However, they get to battle the soft teams in the NFC South.

2024 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.

2024 Las Vegas Raiders Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2024 Las Vegas Raiders Analysis: The Raiders don’t have the most promising quarterback situation with Gardner Minshew and Aidan O’Connell. However, they’re still going to be in playoff contention because of their elite defense. With a top-five stop unit and plenty of talented offensive play-makers, the Raiders can contend for a playoff spot.

Projection: 10-7 (2nd in AFC West)

2023 Projection: 2-15. 2023 Actual Result: 8-9.
2022 Projection: 10-7. 2022 Actual Result: 6-11.
2021 Projection: 5-12. 2021 Actual Result: 10-7.
2020 Projection: 8-8. 2020 Actual Result: 8-8.
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:

A- Grade

Goals Entering the 2024 NFL Draft: The Raiders don’t have a quarterback at the moment, so they could draft one at No. 13. It would be ideal if they could somehow leapfrog the Vikings for Drake Maye, but that may not be realistic. If the Raiders don’t move up, trading back would make sense in order to accumulate more picks.

2024 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Raiders neither selected a quarterback nor traded down from No. 13. Instead, they obtained an elite player at that pick. It must have been quite the shock that Brock Bowers was available, and it was a smart decision to draft him. The Raiders were wise to view Michael Mayer as a sunk cost in the process, though it helped that the current regime didn’t draft Mayer.

The Raiders didn’t come away with a quarterback, but they still have a young player at the position in Aidan O’Connell, who showed brilliant flashes at times as a rookie. He’ll be helped by the auditions of Bowers, Jackson Powers-Johnson and Dylan Laube, with the latter two being steals at positions of need. The Raiders also found two solid bargains on the defensive side of the ball when they chose Tommy Eichenberg and Marlon Devonshire.

I’m a big fan of the Raiders’ draft, with only one pick (Delmar Glaze) scoring worse than a “B” grade. Again, there was no quarterback, but the Raiders were never in position to draft one, thanks to Atlanta’s stupidity. Instead, the Raiders strengthened their roster, giving them a chance to compete for a playoff spot in 2024.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

13. Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia – A Grade

So much for Michael Mayer. I don’t really care that the Raiders drafted Mayer last year because A) Mayer sucked as a rookie, and B) this is a new front office. Brock Bowers makes the most sense as the best player available. I love this pick, as Bowers will be a great threat for whomever the Raiders find to play quarterback.

44. Jackson Powers-Johnson, C, Oregon – A+ Grade

What a steal by the Raiders. Jackson Powers-Johnson easily could have gone at the end of the first round, so they did a great job of getting him with this pick. The offensive line has been a weak spot for the Raiders for a long time, but Powers-Johnson will be able to help improve that dreadful situation.

77. Delmar Glaze, OT, Maryland – D Grade

On one hand, I like that the Raiders are adding to their weak offensive line. On the other hand … why Delmar Glaze? The Maryland product was considered a day-three prospect, so this is too early for him. Glaze is considered a backup swing tackle for the pros.

112. Decamerion Richardson, CB, Mississippi State – B Grade

Decamerion Richardson is a very raw prospect, but he possesses great upside and athleticism. I like taking a risk like this here to fill a major need at cornerback.

148. Tommy Eichenberg, LB, Ohio State – B+ Grade

Tommy Eichenberg is a two-down linebacker who will help the Raiders improve against the run. The Raiders already had the great pass rush, but they needed to improve versus the rush. Eichenberg, who could have gone a bit earlier than this, will bolster that area.

208. Dylan Laube, RB, New Hampshire – A Grade

This is a steal for the Raiders, as Dylan Laube could have been chosen late in the third round without any complaints. The Raiders needed to find another running back, and they’re doing that with a great receiver out of the backfield.

223. Trey Taylor, S, Air Force – B Grade

A safety and a special-teamer makes sense for the Raiders here in the seventh round. Taylor was projected around this area, so this pick earns a solid “B” grade.

229. Marlon Devonshire, CB, Pittsburgh – A+ Grade

Marlon Devonshire could have been chosen as early as the fourth round, so here’s a steal for the Raiders at a position of need. Devonshire projects as a slot cornerback in the NFL.

Season Summary:
The Raiders were much better in the second half of the season after they fired Josh McDaniels. Their defense was excellent, and they even had a chance to reach the playoffs.

Offseason Moves:

  • Team Needs:
    1. Quarterback: Aidan O’Connell had some decent performances down the stretch when he replaced Jimmy Garoppolo. The Raiders will probably want to add an upgrade, however. Signed Gardner Minshew

    2. Right Tackle: The Raiders wanted Paris Johnson in the 2023 NFL Draft, but the Cardinals sniped them. They may want to fix their right tackle issue this offseason.

    3. Two Defensive Tackles: Las Vegas had a great defense, but the interior linemen were a liability. Jerry Tillery saw major snaps, which is a sign of how bad things were. Signed Christian Wilkins

    4. Two Interior Offensive Linemen: The Raiders need a guard and a potential replacement for Andre James, who is headed for free agency.

    5. Cornerback: Marcus Peters and Nate Hobbs played well for the Raiders last year, but another cornerback is needed.

    6. Linebacker: Another linebacker should be added to pair with Robert Spillane.

    7. Running Back: Josh Jacobs is an impending free agent. Zamir White was solid down the stretch, but the Raiders may want to add some competition.

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2024 NFL Free Agent Signings:

    Las Vegas Raiders Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
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