As a supporter of Raider Nation, I have been pleasantly surprised this offseason. Al Davis has managed to stay clear of throwing money at an older player that once put up Pro Bowl numbers, a la Terrell Owens, and has been putting money into the team and handling business from within. Examples include Nnamdi Asomugha, Shane Lechler, Cooper Carlisle, Ricky Brown, and Isaiah Ekejiuba.
Normally, by this time we have witnessed Al bring in some player, who he has given way too much for, that ends up not being anywhere near the player he was in recent years. Examples again? Javon Walker, Kwame Harris, Dante Hall, and Adam Archuleta.
This offseason has been filled with one good signing after the other, especially the news of Khalif Barnes from the Jags. A very good left tackle and a former second round pick, Khalif was promised nothing more than a chance to compete at the spot, but if he is anything like he was in years previous, he is an instant upgrade.
We all know we have something special in JaMarcus Russell and have witnessed what he can do when he has time. With Khalif protecting his blind side, we should see our bionic-armed man start to show us his true colors.
Another great signing is retaining Cooper Carlisle, a consistent blocker on the line. Along with Robert Gallery and possibly Mario Henderson at right tackle, Carlisle's original position in 2008, the line should be night and day compared to last year and will open up our team's possibilities offensively.
We have a running game. Everyone knows that. It's a three-headed monster that, with the addition of a passing game, can be even better than it is now.
We have to somehow get a top-tier wide receiver through free agency or via trade. We have youth at that position, and we can be good, but that top-tier wide receiver will open things up. I do feel that Drew Carter is a very good receiver, and that Javon in top form can be good as well, but where is that Randy-Moss-type receiver? Oh, that's right. New England.
Our youngsters need to step up this year at the wide receiver position. Out of Johnnie Lee Higgins, Chaz Schilens, Arman Shields, and Jonathan Holland someone needs to step up or go home. Here is hoping Al works magic to lock in that WR we need.
The draft is upon us again, and Al can solidify his identity change from careless investor in years past to the great owner we used to know and love. Unpredictable has become a little bit more predictable, and if that is any sign on what he will do at the draft, here is what I see happening.
Al loves speed. Al does not like to draft without knowing what the 40 time of someone is. This year he makes an exception, though, and fills that gap at WR and brings in Michael Crabtree. Michael goes on to be a great receiver, and that laughable air attack, minus the JRuss-Zach Miller connection, is now a true threat.
Here is to you Al! Here is to hoping that you continue making all the right moves and putting the Raider Nation back on the map as a legitimate contender for that Lombardi Trophy that has evaded our grasp over the last couple decades.