Oakland Raiders: 2010 Position Rankings

Yusuf HassanCorrespondent IAugust 8, 2010


The 2010-11 Oakland Raiders are looking to improve on a disastrous 2009-10 campaign. For this to happen, the Raiders need improvements from every position on their team. After a great draft and some stellar off-season acquisitions, the Raiders are poised to not only improve, but compete for the AFC Title. Below is a ranking and analysis.

Ranking System

1= Push-overs

2= Bottom of the barrel  

3= Decent

4= Pro-bowl potential

5- Dominate against all competition


1: Running back: 3.5/ 5

Michael Bush averaged 4.8 yards a carry last year in his limited role in the Raiders backfield. Look for Bush to be more of a feature back this year even though he will share carries with Darren McFadden.


With adjustments to McFadden's running style to a lower, more balanced posture, look for McFadden to improve and limit injuries that have plagued him over the last few years.


Veterans Rock Cartwright and Michael Bennett add depth


Manese Tonga and Marcel Reece are the leading candidate for the starting full-back position. Tonga, the more powerful run blocker, should take over the position if the Raiders are sincere about power-rushing this season. Chane Molin and Cartwright will compete, but I don't believe they will see much playing time at the full back position.


2: Defensive Line: 4/ 5

Richard Seymour leads a defensive-line that should be much better with the additions of two time pro-bowler John Henderson and rookie Lamarr Houston. 


Mike Waufle, the defensive line coach, is trying out different formations and shifting players into different positions to analyze the effectiveness of different looks. 


Tommy Kelly and Desmond Bryant should provide good run support alongside Seymour. Look for this group to dominate the offensive-lines in the AFC West.


3: Quarterback: 3.5/ 5

Jason Campbell is a major upgrade from the NFL ambassador of "Purple Drank," JaMarcus Russell. Campbell has proven that when he has time in the pocket, he can dismantle some of the best NFL defenses. This was made evident by his performance last year against the Super-bowl Champ Saints. Completing nearly 65% of his passes, Campbell had his best season as a pro in 09 throwing for 20 touchdowns on a team in disarray and cluttered with ineptitude


Bruce Gradkowski, a fourth-year pro, is a top 5 backup based on his heroics last season when Coach Cable benched Russell.


4: Linebacker: 3.5/ 5

Trevor Scott has replaced Thomas Howard on the weak side. Kamerion Wimbley is the new strong side linebacker. And Rolando McClain will man the middle.


This group is bigger and more athletic than last year's underachieving linebacker corp; look for Scott to get after quarterbacks in passing situations and lead the team in sacks, while McClain will assure that the Raiders are no longer a team that can be run over.


5. Offensive Line: 2/ 5

Robert Gallery, tackle turned-guard, leads an offensive-line corp that failed miserably last year. With the departure of Cornell Green, who packed his bag of inadequacies for Buffalo, Langston Walker will take over the right tackle position.


The Raiders drafted Jared Veldheer from small Hillsdale College and Bruce Campbell from Maryland, but they will need at least a year to hone their techniques. Look for them to see some action this year, but not substantial time on the field. 


Mario Henderson will shore up the left tackle position. If the Raiders offense is productive, Henderson will have to be more consistent than he was last year. With a healthy Gallery at his side, Henderson has proven to be decent, but the Raiders will need better than decent production from Henderson. 


Inside, center Samson Satele and right guard Cooper Carlisle provide strength in the middle however; their strength at stabilizing the middle is questionable. If Gallery, the team's best lineman, stays healthy, the offensive-line will be better than last year. In fact, if the health scenario plays in Gallery's favor, he might be a Pro-bowler this year. The talk coming out of the Raiders training camp is that Gallery is a beast, evident by him man-handling of Richard Seymour on a couple of occasions. 


In conclusion, if healthy, the offensive-line will be 3/ 5.


6. Wide Receiver: 2.5/ 5

The one thing that is unquestionable about this group is their speed, but the glaring issues reside in their health, experience, and techniques. Darrius Heyward-Bey is the prime example of this. News out of training camp is that Bey is much improved from last year. But that's not saying much for a top ten draft pick who caught 9 balls and dropped 6 as a starter.


Look for Louis Murphy and Chaz Schilens to lead this group. Schilens, when healthy, has the most play-making abilities. Jacoby Ford and Johnnie Lee Higgins provide speed off the bench-- but most likely, most of their time on the field will be in return duties.


7. Defensive Back: 4/ 5

Nnamdi Asomugha and Chris Johnson lead a defensive backfield that was top 10 in the NFL last year. Quarterbacks rarely threw in Asomugha’s direction for good reason. With an improved pass-rush, look for Johnson to make more plays. The speedy Stanford Routt will man the nickel corner spot, but look for Routt to push Johnson for playing time at the starting role opposite of Asomugha.


The Raiders have competition at the safety position. Mike MitchellHiram Eugene, and Michael Huff will all compete for the starting position, but I see Huff barely beating out Eugene and Mitchell. In the strong safety spot Tyvon Branch is the unanimous starter.


8. Tight End: 4/ 5

Zach Miller has a unique skill-set that many analysts have compared to Pro-bowl tight-end Chris Cooley, who ironically was Jason Campbell's "go to guy" in Washington. Look for Campbell and Miller to connect in what could be a Pro-bowl year for the young tight-end.


The back-ups John Owens and Tony Stewart will be used mostly for run-blocking, so don't expect either to catch many passes this year, unless their is an injury to Miller.


This ranking and analysis is a prediction. Please provide your thoughts on how well the different groups will fair.


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