The Oakland Raiders ended their offseason program on June 15. Here’s a look at how they fared:
Offseason goals/grade: Goal No. 1? Make sure Derek Carr's broken right fibula was healed and no longer an issue. So by the way he was running all over the field during organized team activities and minicamp, check. Goal No. 2? To add to the Raiders’ already high-powered offense. RB Marshawn Lynch, TE Jared Cook and WR Cordarrelle Patterson more than did that. Goal No. 3? Address the middle of the Raiders’ oft-porous defense. Well, er, um ... sure, the Raiders drafted MLB Marquel Lee in the fifth round, but they did little else. Cory James and Tyrell Adams were splitting reps while last year’s starter, Perry Riley Jr., remains unemployed. With defensive player of the year Khalil Mack entering his prime as an edge rusher, you’d think the Raiders would want a veteran presence in the middle of the defense. Grade: B
Move I liked: It became the worst-kept secret in the league but after crunching numbers and soothing egos the Raiders’ acquiring Marshawn Lynch from Seattle after the running back’s one-year retirement checks many boxes. For one, he is the violent, punishing, physical runner the Raiders have lacked since, well, Tyrone Wheatley last carried the ball in Oakland. And as long as Lynch is rested and not rusty, he will set up the play-action game quite nicely. Plus, intended or not, Lynch landing in his hometown is a sort of olive branch for a disillusioned fan base, which is losing its team for the second time with the Raiders moving to Las Vegas by 2020. Lynch, a favorite son in the East Bay, said his primary reason for coming out of retirement was to play for the Raiders before they relocate, for the kids, and not to chase a ring.
Move I didn’t like: The relative inaction when it came to addressing the needs up the middle of the Raiders’ defense. As mentioned above, they did use a fifth-round pick on middle linebacker Marquel Lee, but he is not going to step in right away. They have not been enamored with last year’s starter, either, in letting Perry Riley Jr. float about in free agency. They seem content to move forward with practice-squad refugee Tyrell Adams, who did not play a single snap on defense last year in six games, and second-year player Cory James, who struggled as a rookie at times at MLB, splitting reps heading into training camp, rather than having brought in a veteran like Rey Maualuga in the offseason program.
Biggest question still to be answered in training camp: Yeah, the dilemma at middle linebacker. Look, general manager Reggie McKenzie was an inside linebacker in his playing days. Same with coach Jack Del Rio and defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. Does that mean they think they can simply coach up a player to assume the position? It did not turn out so well last year with Ben Heeney, who is coming back from a broken ankle but was running with the fourth-team defense in minicamp. The Raiders would seemingly need a veteran presence in the middle and they have six weeks to figure that out before reporting to Napa, unless they truly feel they are set. And that would seem... strange.
Salary-cap space: $32,092,963 (source: Overthecap.com)
2018 draft picks: 1. CB Gareon Conley, 2. S Obi Melifonwu, 3. DT Eddie Vanderdoes, 4. OL David Sharpe, 5. MLB Marquel Lee, 6. S Shalom Luani, 7. OL Jylan Ware, 8. RB Elijah Hood, 9. DT Treyvon Hester.
Undrafted rookie free agents signed: CB Breon Borders, DT Paul Boyette, OT Chauncey Briggs, DE Fadol Brown, TE Pharoh Brown, DE Chris Casher, S Anthony Cioffi, LB Najee Harris, WR Keon Hatcher, CB Chris Humes, S Rickey Jefferson, LS Anthony Kukwa, LB LaTroy Lewis, S Marcus McWilson, LB Nicholas Morrow, OL Jordan Simmons, WR Isaac Whitney, LB Xavier Woodson-Luster, WR Ishmael Zamora.
Players acquired via trade: RB Marshawn Lynch.