The Oakland Raiders are going through the biggest rebuilding phase in the franchises great history. General manager Reggie McKenzie has got ridden of as many bad contracts as he could which will give the Raiders up to 70 million dollars in cap space next season. While McKenzie’s moves have set the Raiders up for a bright future, it has also put the 2013 Raiders in a dire situation. The Raiders simply did not have enough money to fill the many holes on the offensive and defensive lines this year. Raiders fans should expect another up and down season but they must keep in mind that the Raiders future has never been brighter. Although the Raiders might not get many wins this season, they can still have a successful season if Menelik Watson, DJ Hayden and Terrelle Pryor have big seasons.
Offensive tackle Menelik Watson has dealt with injuries throughout the off-season and will miss week one because of those injuries. The second round pick has shown flashes of being a stalwart on the offensive line. Watson’s fast feet and all around athletic ability make him a special talent for the Oakland Raiders. If Watson can emerge this season as a dependable left/right tackle, the Raiders have a great foundation for their future. All successful teams must have a great offensive line and with Watson, Wisniewski and Veldheer, the Raiders have young lineman that can carry the team for the next decade.
All great defenses are anchored by at least one shut down cornerback. Reggie McKenzie traded down to get DJ Hayden because he felt that Hayden could be the Raiders shutdown cornerback of the future. If it weren’t for Hayden’s catastrophic injury in practice last year at Houston, Hayden might have been a top 5 pick. If Hayden can step up this year to become the number one cornerback by season’s end, the Raiders defense will be setup for the future.
Obviously the quarterback is the most important player on any NFL team. If Terrelle Pryor can show enough flashes of being a solid NFL quarterback, the Raiders could focus their off-season on filling other major holes. Pryor is the most dangerous running quarterback that the league has ever seen. While Pryor’s 40-yard dash time is barely slower than Michael Vick’s in his prime, Pryor is 5 inches taller and has the body of a tight end. As great as Pryor’s running skills are, he must show that he can make enough throws to become a dependable quarterback. While Pryor has made some outstanding throws over his short career, has also thrown some terrible lobs that have been intercepted. Pryor must improve his decision making and make all the right throws to be considered the heir apparent at the quarterback position.