There are some big questions left to answer for the Oakland Raiders heading into the 2010 season, and whilst many of them might be answered on draft day, it is difficult to imagine all of them being answered in a single draft.
So what questions still remain to be answered?
Who Will Play Right Tackle?
That is one of the biggest priorities this offseason, to improve the offensive line, starting at the right tackle position. Cornell Green is gone so it will be someone else. This could probably be solved with a first round draft pick, but you never know which way Al will go or what he is planning.
Any one of the top three tackles in the draft (Okung, Baluga, Williams) could fill that need very well, but all are rising up the mock draft boards and may be gone by the No. 8 pick. If they are, then I have a sneaking suspicion that Al has Khalif Barnes pencilled in at right tackle this year. It also wouldn’t be a shock if Al reached for Bruce Campbell, who is the popular draft prediction for Oakland.
Campbell’s measurable is exactly what Al Davis usually goes for, but the big guy from Maryland is a developmental project at best and a massive reach at No. 8.
Who Will Play Middle Linebacker?
With Kirk Morrison seemingly on the way out with an original round free agency tender, the Raiders still have a big question mark over this position. Ricky Brown gave Morrison a run for his money in camp for the starting position last year, but has serious durability issues.
I can’t imagine the Raiders going into 2010 with him as their only option, which must mean either free agency or the draft, but the Raiders haven’t tipped their hand there so far. Could they be seriously considering Rolando McLain? I think it is unlikely for a linebacker who could essentially be just a two-down player.
Who Will Play Defensive Tackle?
With Gerard Warren being cut, the Raiders are in need of a good quality replacement. Desmond Bryant has promise, and William Joseph may have been re-signed, but neither is really a full-time answer to the problem.
With the draft unusually strong in the defensive line, it’s a good time to go that way in April. But will they? The Raiders have neglected run defense for some years. Why should they take it seriously now?
And Finally, Who Will Play Quarterback?
Bruce Gradkowski clearly beat out JaMarcus Russell for the job last year, and the Raiders might have given him a second round tender, but they clearly haven’t given up on Russell. Eddie Anderson has been babysitting Russell in Arizona to get him in shape for the coming season, and we were told what great shape Russell was in prior to his return to Oakland, but the hype didn’t match reality.
Russell weighed in at 271 pounds, six pounds over his listed weight. If he had come in at 250, that would have made people sit up and take note.
So will it be an open competition as Tom Cable promised? Or will Al insist that JaMarcus Russell be handed the job?
All these questions are crucial to the success of the team next year, and unless they are answered, and answered well, we will be doomed to another season of mediocrity.
At least one question is answered. Tom Cable will be head coach, and I for one think that is a step in the right direction for this franchise.