The Oakland Raiders haven’t exactly been a model NFL franchise over the past decade. But when general manager Reggie McKenzie was hired before last season and began purging bad contracts and questionable acquisitions made by the previous regime, it looked as if there was hope for Raider Nation for the first time in recent memory.
The moves by the Raiders this offseason, however, have been questionable to say the least. Tim Kawakami of the Contra Costa Times shares his view, starting with the Raiders decision to draft cornerback D.J. Hayden in the first round.
“With a roster that desperately needs an influx of difference-making talent, how could McKenzie risk his highest draft pick to date on a player with this much of a health question mark?”
Even though Hayden has been declared 100% healthy after heart surgery, how will he react on an instinctual level when asked to make a hard tackle using his abdomen, the part of his body the surgery was performed on? Will he shy away from hits, or maybe go for the weak arm-tackle instead of the solid hit? Time will tell the long-term consequences of his surgery, but right now there are definite questions.
“[T]he Raiders’ roster is bad again this season, possibly worse than last season, and last season’s talent level was awful.”
Another fair point. Where have the Raiders gotten better this offseason? Is Matt Flynn better than Carson Palmer? The Raiders lost four key defensive linemen from last year–Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly, Desmond Bryant, and Matt Shaughnessy–meaning that their run defense will likely be even worse than their 28th ranking last year. The lack of pass rush could also offset the additions made by the Raiders in the secondary–Mike Jenkins, Tracy Porter, and D.J. Hayden–since no NFL corner can cover an NFL receiver when an NFL quarterback has all day to throw.
We will have to wait for the NFL season to start before we truly judge the moves made by Reggie McKenzie, of course. But for now, plenty of questions remain about where the Oakland Raiders are headed. Not that that’s anything new.