Oakland Raiders: 10 Raiders That Are Entering a Make-or-Break Season

Carl CockerhamSenior Analyst IJune 16, 2011

Oakland Raiders: 10 Raiders That Are Entering a Make-or-Break Season

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    A man named JaMarcus Russell, along with a few others, have been escorted out of Raider Nation. This is because they received their given time to get things together and still weren't able to produce for the Raiders.

    How much time a player gets differs based on how much was invested in him, and 2011 is make-or-break season for a few Raiders as they can be shown the gates of Raider Nation.

    Turn the page to see who those players are.

No. 10: Nick Miller

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    Nick Miller was looking like the one during the preseason in 2009 making plays as a receiver and return man. A broken shin ended his season, but the Raiders liked him so much he stayed on the 53-man roster.

    When 2010 came, Miller flashed again as he debuted with a 46-yard punt return against the Chargers. Two weeks later, against the Broncos, he made a beautiful 32-yard catch along the sideline.

    But soon thereafter, Miller would again disappear due to the dreaded high ankle sprain. He would come back but he wasn't the same as his punt return average was a paltry 7.3 yards.

    Again, the Raiders love this kid so he was signed before the CBA madness. But the Raiders drafted receivers in 2011 so Miller must sizzle or get off the pan.

    He is now working out with Larry Fitzgerald and Greg Jennings to improve as a receiver.

    I hope he working on his punt returning, too.

No. 9: Walter McFadden

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    Walter McFadden was drafted in the fifth round of the draft in 2010 and looked really good in trainning camp. He then pulled a hamstring, making it harder for him to get on the field, as the Raiders were stacked at corner.

    When he did get on the field, he disappointed, as he was the trailing corner on some big completions. Even though it is not known if Nnamdi Asomugha will be back, the heat is on McFadden to perform in 2011.

    That heat is going to start in camp both figuratively and literally because Demarcus Van Dyke was just drafted in the third round by the Raiders.

No. 8: Jeremy Ware

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    Here's another young Raider corner on the line.

    If it's up to Jeremy Ware and McFadden to replace Asomugha, the Raiders had better get the Asomugha deal done. Well, that is the case if the way the two young corners played in 2010 has anything to do with it.

    When Ware got his turn, we was constantly touched, too.

    However, Ware did end up with an interception for his troubles.

    The heat will be on him when camp starts as well because the Raiders may end up choosing between he and McFadden for that final corner roster spot.

    Van Dyke's 4.25 40-yard dash and return ability are going to make it hard to keep McFadden and Ware.

    If Asomugha stays, they could both be gone.

No. 7: Chris Johnson

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    Chris Johnson has shown that he is up to the task, as he ranked No. 6 in burn percentage among NFL corners.

    So why is he in the category of make or break?

    He is make or break for the Raiders because he has to play well if Asomugha ends up not being a Raider in 2011. The Raiders' No. 2-ranked pass defense can't take two steps back as they try to improve other areas of the team.

    If Asomugha stays, I wonder what the Raiders will do with his $3 million salary.

No. 6: Trevor Scott

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    I still believe that Trevor Scott is a steal from sixth round of the 2008 draft, but this is a make-or-break year for him. He had five sacks in his first year as a defensive end despite not having a single start that year.

    He then tied for the team lead with seven in his second year with only seven starts. In 2010, after switching back and forth between defensive end and outside linebacker, he finally found a home at outside linebacker.

    Scott actually set his edge in the run game well at outside linebacker until a knee injury ended his season. Scott is now rumored to be ahead of schedule in his healing from surgery, so it will be interesting to see what he can do.

    This is make or break for Scott because he has shown flashes in his brief career but it's time to show he's the guy. It's also make or break for the Raiders because they are an outside linebacker away from having a solid run defense.

    Travis Goethel is lurking, too.

No. 5: Chaz Schilens

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    For Chaz Schilens, 2011 is literally make or break.

    He will either MAKE plays for the Raiders, helping them solidify their passing game, or BREAK something and not play. The man is 6'4", 225 pounds, runs a 4.33 40-yard dash and has a 43-inch vertical leap to go with great hands.

    His problem is that he has started 14 games in three years due to injury. 

    If Schilens can't play, I believe the clutch and talented Louis Murphy can take the No. 1 receiver spot. The speedy Jacoby Ford can play opposite him and the Raider will not have problems scoring.

    And 2011 is really make or break because Schilens is a phenom when healthy.

    How many phenoms have the Raiders had at receiver lately?

    It's a good sign that Shilens doesn't have a surgery scheduled this offseason

No. 4: Tyvon Branch

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    Tyvon Branch has averaged over 100 tackles a year since breaking into the starting lineup in 2009. But former Raider Kirk Morrison was always among the league leaders in tackles and we know what kind of middle linebacker he is.

    Tackles for a 10-yard gain don't count for much in the way of goodness at any position in the box. The tackles that Branch missed in 2010 cost the Raiders a bunch and that just can't happen to the last line of defense.

    While Morrison was is good in pass coverage, Branch showed that he was goodness awful in 2010. Branch gave up 73.1 percent of the passes thrown at him for eight touchdowns with a quarterback rating of 134.

    He's not a big hitter, either.

    Tom Cable told the media that 2009 second-round pick Mike Mitchell didn't get on the field much because he struggled in coverage. I saw nothing to make me believe that Mitchell was any worse than Branch in coverage.

    In fact, Mitchell looked good in coverage when he did play.

    That really makes 2011 make or break for Branch.

No. 3: Darrius Heyward-Bey

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    Darrius Heyward-Bey is more make or break for himself than he is as far as helping the Raiders. A healthy Shilens, Murphy and Ford are ready to break out so throwing at him too much will just slow the others down.

    Oakland Raider owner Al Davis will see this as waste or useful since he has spent so much money on him. If Heyward-Bey doesn't catch on, literally, this is year three, so he will be officially labeled as a bust.

    Heyward-Bey has come a long way but has an even longer way to go.

    It doesn't look good for Heyward-Bey with the talent the Raiders possess at the position.

No. 2: Jared Veldheer

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    I have all but tried to will Jared Gaither to the Raiders because they need a left tackle they know can do the job. Jared Veldheer was selected in 2010 in the third round and labeled a steal while leading the league in sacks given up per start.

    Do you understand it?

    I don't.

    I don't see 2011 as make or break for Veldheer personally because he is a beast of a run blocker. He can be moved to the right side or guard and make a Pro Bowl to really become a third round steal.

    Meanwhile, I saw nothing to label him a steal in 2010.

    But he is the Raiders' left tackle as of now, so it's make or break for the Raiders because left tackles are important.

No. 1: Jason Campbell

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    In every way that counts, 2011 is make or break for Jason Campbell.

    The Raiders need for him to perform in the worst way because the quarterback is the most important position in team sports. And for Campbell, he was a first-round pick in 2005 that couldn't turn around a struggling franchise while in Washington.

    If he doesn't get it done in Oakland, he can kiss any thoughts of a big contract goodbye.

    He may even be out of football.

    He surely won't be a starter.

    Campbell shook off a horrible start to finish strong after being benched in 2010. All signs point to Campbell being the unquestioned leader in Raider Nation these days, as he and defensive tackle Richard Seymour have organized a players only mini-camp this offseason.

    He's going to have the same offense for the first time in ten years.

    The same personnel with a solid left tackle will also help.


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    Enough of the 10 Oakland Raiders on this list should make instead of break.

    A good thing I see about this list is there are a number of players that play the same position as some of these players. This means that there aren't many weaknesses on the team and 2011 should be a good year.

    If you look at the players put together, the progress they made going 8-8 and Davis' age, this is a make-or-break year for the Raiders, period.