The Oakland Raiders are coming off a 6-10 season, but there have been numerous changes within the team, and they will win the AFC West in 2018.
Almost immediately after the Oakland Raiders lost their Week 17 game against the Los Angeles Chargers, the organization fired head coach Jack Del Rio. Instead of an elaborate coaching search, team owner Mark Davis zeroed in on his favorite target in Jon Gruden.
Just like that, the second coming of Gruden was born, as the organization lured him out of the broadcast booth. Now fully immersed in his role as head coach, Gruden has started shaping this roster in his own image, and the team will have a completely different look in 2018.
With all teams in the AFC West making big moves this offseason, it should once again be a very competitive division. While it could be close, the Raiders will come out on top, and here are five reasons why.
5. Strong additions via free agency, and 11 draft picks await
The amount of issues with this roster was abundant going into the offseason, and there was also the concern over the salary cap. On defense, the team needed help on all three levels of the unit, as they struggled to get stops on a consistent basis last season.
Working with little cap space, the Raiders just could not go out and bring in big-name free agents like Ndamukong Suh, Trumaine Johnson, or Sheldon Richardson. Instead, they had to build up this roster by bringing in players who reflect their head coach, or Gruden Grinders as they are called.
In the secondary, where the team was terrible last season, they added Rashaan Melvin to play alongside former first rounder Gareon Conley at cornerback. While they lost T.J. Carrie to the Cleveland Browns, they did bring in Leon Hall and Shareece Wright, who should give the team more depth.
At linebacker, Tahir Whitehead was a huge pickup, especially if they cannot re-sign NaVorro Bowman. He will slide in and start right away, and give the team better talent at the position.
In addition, the Raiders have 11 picks in the 2018 NFL Draft, which is the second most. They pick 3 times in the first 75 selections, including the tenth overall pick. That should be used on a defensive tackle, where they could bring in a player like Washington’s Vita Vea to take some pressure off of Khalil Mack in the pass rush.