3 Things for Raider Nation to Watch In 2019

Hayden Nadolny
raider nation 2019

After a rough 2018 for Raider Nation, the team is poised to make some significant moves to improve in 2019. In addition to a wealth of NFL Draft picks, the team has significant dollars to upgrade the roster as well. We take a look at 3 things Raider Nation should be excited about moving toward the 2019 season.

A Stacked War Chest

Very few teams have as many resources to improve their team this off-season than the Raiders. In addition to having roughly $75 million in salary cap space, the team has three 2019 NFL Draft first-round picks. With a few expected cuts, such as offensive guard Kelechi Osemele, the salary cap space could even blow out to as much as $100 million. Having a lot of money is great in theory, but it is imperative Jon Gruden execute this off-season wisely. The Raiders are in dire need of playmakers and previously we have seen teams in a similar position overpay to sign the ‘best’ free agents. As general manager Mike Mayock acknowledged in his initial press conference, the majority of blue-chip talent does not hit free agency. This means the Raiders may be wise not to hunt for bargain basement deals. Instead, a solid second-tier level player who won’t cost an arm and a leg would be more prudent.

With picks at 4, 24 and 27, the Raiders will have ample opportunities on day one to acquire that true blue-chip talent they currently lack on the roster. Having multiple first-round picks leads to so many options, such as trading down from pick four as a team searches for a quarterback, or the Raiders could trade down from one of their lower picks and acquire extra day two picks. This is more possible if there is enough talent still available when they’re on the clock late on day one. It’s the most important draft the Raiders have had in years, but fortunately, they have the pieces to quickly turn the fortunes of the team around if they execute correctly. This would please Raider Nation quickly.

The Right Personnel

Raider Nation had been screaming for Jon Gruden’s return to Oakland for well over a decade. Fast-forward to 2019 and a portion of fans have turned against him. Fans ultimately need to realize that though Gruden’s return came with much optimism, the reasons for that are still very much there today. In terms of offensive scheme, Gruden is as up to date as any in the league. The offense’s problem wasn’t scheme, but rather it was personnel. The Raiders lacked offensive talent last year to move the ball consistently, not to mention the gluttony of injuries they had which further exposed the lack of any roster depth. This was particularly true on the offensive line. The players showed little, if any, discontent at the end of the year and the team was still playing hard for their coach. Recent comments by former linebacker Derrick Johnson dispelled any notion Gruden lost the locker room. With improved personnel, Gruden can help the Raiders relive their glory days of years past.

derek carr jon gruden raider nation

Carr and Gruden can be a potent combination.

In Mike Mayock, the Raiders have a GM who not only has Gruden’s ear but is as well tuned in to the draft as anyone in the league. There are obvious question marks surrounding Mayock’s ability to handle the day-to-day machinations of being in the league, but when it comes to the draft, the Raiders will be well equipped to make their rebuild a quick one.

A Quarterback

It’s easy to blame Derek Carr for the Raiders struggles this year, particularly early in the season where he threw eight interceptions in the first five games. This narrative, however, has played out before. In 2012, ex-Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer was seemingly blamed for the majority of the team’s struggles on offense with #PalmersFault trending on Twitter time and time again. Palmer was shipped out the following off-season to Arizona where he looked significantly better, en route to an MVP caliber season in 2015. With improved talent around him, Carr has the chance to do the same thing. Gruden was quick to praise Carr at the end of the season, achieving career highs in passing yards (4,049), completion percentage (68.9) and having a stretch of 10 games without throwing an interception. This despite the lack of talent on offense. Mayock too has praised Carr, describing him as “a great quarterback” in an interview at the college football championship game. Barely two years ago, Carr had an MVP-type season in which he was the unquestioned best closer in the league. With the right talent around him, there’s no reason why he can’t get back to that level. Fortunately for the Raiders, they have the war chest to build from. The pieces of the puzzle are there, now it’s time for the Raiders to put them together.