Every year, especially of late, it seems the Raiders are in the same position-in rebuilding mode and in need of serious upgrades and discipline on the field.
You can blame it on Al Davis, Tom Cable, and the rest of the front office, but ultimately, the weight of responsibility rests on the players themselves. The discipline on both sides of the ball was a source of mockery and sub-par performance all year long.
From players running into each other in coverage, wide outs getting tied up in routes, dropped balls, poor throwing, and missed assignments at the line, it's clear the Raiders need to move in a different direction this offseason.
The front office has spent their last three first round picks on players who have not lived up to expectations (JaMarcus Russel, Darren McFadden, Darius Heyward-Bey). It's doubtful Al Davis has learned his lesson and will divert away from his usual "speed supersedes all" mentality but either way, the team has a number of holes to address.
Biggest Needs: QB, OT, FB, WR
JaMarcus Russel is a bona fide bust and, with the possibility of losing Gradkowski to free agency, the Raiders have a lot of work to do in upgrading the quarterback position. Bringing back Gradkowski wouldn't be the worst of ideas; the offense rallied behind the journeyman and were able to display an ounce of consistency.
If the team does decide to address the quarterback position in the draft, I doubt it will be in the higher rounds. Rather, expect them to go after a mid-late round guy like John Skelton or Jarrett Brown.
Of course, it's difficult for any quarterback to throw the ball effectively without a proficient offensive line. Robert Gallery is still struggling with injuries and Cornell Green wasn't on par with his expectations at all. Mario Henderson is looking like a dependable lineman but the team still needs a young tackle they can develop into a franchise player.
With the eighth pick in the draft, Oakland has a shot at picking up an elite rookie tackle, but that isn't Davis' style so only time will tell. If they do opt to go in that direction, Anthony Davis, Trent Williams, and Bruce Campbell are all likely to be available. Otherwise, Sam Young or Kyle Calloway are true tackles who will likely be around in the second or third round.
Fullback is never high on the list for costly acquisitions but the Raiders will still likely keep an eye out for worth blocking backs that become available. Luke Lawton is suspended for the first two games of next season, Oren O'Neal is still struggling with nagging injuries and Gary Russel is not a blocking back.
Darius Heyward-Bey had nine catches in eleven starts and it's unclear whether or not he will ever be a true starting wide out. Louis Murphy looked good late in the season and Chaz Schilens showed a little potential as well. Javon Walker was slated to be the veteran presence they needed, but injuries prevented that from happening.
Ideally, the Raiders would do better to acquire a veteran receiver rather than clutter the roster with another youthful wide out. Terrel Owens, Antonio Bryant and Derrick Mason are all available though it's doubtful Al Davis will shell out the big bucks for either of them. But couldn't you picture the circus of Owens in Oakland?
For the rest of the Raiders team needs, go here.