It's very reasonable to think/believe that the Raiders won't make a lot of noise or any for that matter, in regards to the postseason in 2009. What can be evaluated is the young core group of players at very important positions on the offensive side of the ball.
At QB, J.Russell is the franchise type of player who many Raider fans/players will have to believe in that who can turn this franchise around. His second year at the end of the season was a very good indication that he's begun the process of becoming the type of QB that the Raiders selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft.
A veteran signal caller would be a nice addition in free agency, but P.Hackett (QB's coach) should help with Russell's maturity.
At RB, D.McFadden/J.Fargas/M.Bush/and even L.Rankin can all be mentioned as possible workhorses who'll take the pressure off of J.Russell in the passing game, not to mention wearing down opposing teams defenses going into the late fourth quarter. This position looks to be the strength of the franchise's roster.
At FB, O.O'Neal is a punishing blocker, the question about him is if he will be healthy enough to return from his injury that he got during the preseason of last year. I expect to see O'Neal on the PUP list to start camp, but with the resigning of guys like Griffith (at a smaller price) and L. Lawton, the position should be okay for now.
At TE, Z. Miller is solidifying himself as one of the top TE's in the NFL. If Mr. Davis can find a TE in free agency or the draft to give us another pass blocker/run-blocker type of body at the No. 2 TE position, this will give the offense a boost in terms of passing yards, TD's, and receptions in the passing game.
At WR, J.Walker/C.Schilens/J.Higgins/and A.Shields all are BIG ? marks for this team. IMO, going with this group and adding a veteran in free agency would be the smartest move that the Raiders can make.
I only say that because of the strong finish that guys like Schilens/Higgins had at the end of the year. Giving these younger guys more reps during the regular season will show management what we actually have after the 2009 season.
At C, J.Wade? I'm a very bid advocate of bringing in Alex Mack through the draft, some mocks have him going in late first round, others have him going in early second. What I do know about this guy, is that he brings a run-blocking, good body structure, and mean streak to the center position that we've lacked since B.Robbins.
Doesn't hurt that he's played in a ZBS at Cal and that his former o-line coach is now the Raiders o-line coach. My pick in the 2nd round!!!
At RG, another position that has a question mark, I would like to see Carlisle brought back, but only at a reasonable price and as a mentor for MY third round pick. My third round pick brings a S. Wisnewski type of attitude to the RG position.
His name, Trevor Canfield.
Another player who is believed who can play in the ZBS. His measurements are at 6'5"/307lbs. The report I got on Canfield is that one of his "NEGATIVES" is playing with too much attitude, something our o-line as a whole that has lacked since S.Wisnewski was playing here in Oakland.
At LG, the position looks set with Gallery/McQuistan (good depth type of player). This is one position along the o-line that I'm alright with as long as McQuistan stays in a backup type of role at both guard spots.
At RT, C.Green brings a good veteran backup type of player to the position. My pick is the selection with the No. 7 pick in the NFL draft, Jason Smith from Baylor. His comments of “I take a lot of pride in physically assaulting somebody when I’m on the field.” brings a nasty attitude to the tackle position. The question is, will he be there at the No. 7 pick?
At LT, M.Henderson looks to have the spot locked, although if a guy like J.Smith is drafted, I would let those two players compete for the LT position and the one who loses the battle, gets to take over the RT position.
Hopefully, J.Marten is brought back in a backup type of role to give the o-line depth.
Building J.Russell a young o-line will not only help his development in the future, but it will give guys like Z.Miller an opportunity to go out on more passing routes and also pave the running lanes for the strongest position on the teams roster at RB.
One thing I've caught a lot of criticism for (While talking with other Raider fans) is drafting a RT/C/and RG in the first three rounds, but being that our defense took steps backwards rather than forward, we might as well start building a strong offense again like we did from 1998-2002.
What better way of building the foundation on the offensive side of the ball, than to do it along the o-line through the draft and where both the head coach/o-line coach were some of the best coaches at their positions in both college and the pros!!!