The Raiders are a team on the rise. This cannot be argued.
A solid offseason, though, will be the difference between postseason football, and lies. Damn lies. Here’s a simple blueprint of who the Raiders could, and should be targeting.
The Raiders might be well off re-signing left tackle Donald Penn, who has started each of the last 32 games with Oakland and done a tremendous job. His age, though, seems to be giving Oakland room for pause. Penn turns 33 in April, and though he’s shown no sign of slowing, the Raiders could want a much younger talent.
The right tackle and right guard spots are a weak point along a very solid offensive line. It’s certainly possible that Oakland will release tackle Austin Howard in the coming days, or after they sign a replacement.
LT Cordy Glenn (Buffalo)
OT Russell Okung (Seattle)
OG Kelechi Osemele (Baltimore)
OG Ramon Foster (Pittsburgh)
OG Alex Boone (San Francisco)
RT Mitchell Schwartz (Cleveland)
RT Andre Smith (Cincinnati)
Offensive skill players
Roy Helu Jr. didn’t see much playing time in his first year with the Raiders, a lot of which can be explained by injuries. Oakland needs to add an impact runner, of which they have been lacking for three decades. Slot receiver is also a need, and a speedster than can run drags but also stretch the field is perfect. Tight end isn’t a huge need, but one name bears mentioning: Dwayne Allen.
RB Lamar Miller (Miami)
WR Travis Benjamin (Cleveland)
WR Rishard Matthews (Miami)
TE Dwayne Allen (Indianapolis)
General manager Reggie McKenzie has put together one of the best pass rushes in the league over the last two years, only to be dampened by coverage issues or a total inability to stop the run.
The need isn’t huge up front, but just a few starts into his career, defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. sustained a neck injury that may be genetic in nature. An insurance policy should be taken out at defensive end.
Defensive tackle is another area where Oakland seems strong, but a few impact guys may prove too difficult to turn down.
DE Muhammad Wilkerson (New York)
DE Malik Jackson (Denver)
DT Nick Fairley (Los Angeles)
DT Brandon Mebane (Seattle)
The Raiders solved their issues covering tight ends by sending Khalil Mack back to the linebacker spot in some games, after they hoped he could stay at defensive end. He’s good anywhere he plays, but the team is best suited when he is charging into the backfield. Two names could make Oakland’s defense markedly better.
LB Danny Trevathan (Denver)
LB Bruce Irvin (Seattle)
Oakland entered the 2015 season by betting that their young talent in the secondary would prove their worth. They lost.
Waiver addition David Amerson made a splash as one of the best man-corners in the NFL, and is young. T.J. Carrie struggled while transitioning between corner and safety while safety Nate Allen nursed some injuries. There are some things to be optimistic about, but there’s no doubting that Oakland should add one or two cornerbacks that should at least challenge for a starting spot.
The safety position might be the team’s largest area of need. Charles Woodson retired, and Nate Allen might be relegated to a reserve role. Lucky for Oakland, there are a few top 20 safeties potentially hitting the market.
CB Trumaine Johnson (Los Angeles)
CB Prince Amukamara (New York)
CB Sean Smith (Kansas City)
CB Casey Hayward (Green Bay)
CB Brandon Boykin (Philadelphia)
S George Iloka (Cincinnati)
S Eric Berry (Kansas City)
S Tashaun Gipson (Cleveland)
S Walter Thurmond (Philadelphia)
Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Oakland Raiders beat writer and member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Raiders.