2015 Looking Much Much Better

Firstly, we are looking a whole lot better this year. Secondly, with a nice bit of cap space this offseason we can get really good in 2016 (more to come shortly). I’m talking about top 5, superbowl contenders. This team has REAL potential.

Derek Carr looks awesome, the WR’s have real talent, the TE’s have good potential, our RB’s show flashes and the O-line has made big strides.

On the other side of the ball, the D looks very stout. I like Mario Edwards Jr at DE, Aldon Smith on the other side, Dan Williams is a beast and Jelly if he’s fit is decent. I also saw some impressive play from Stacy McGee the other day, while Autry is improving and I like the potential of Shelby Harris. Back in the LB’s, as long as we don’t overplay Jar Jar were fine, I love the new additions and I’m really impressed with how Norton has got them developing. Finally our much maligned secondary has shown improvements, dramatic ones at that. David Amerson needed the fresh start, and now looks every bit the high-round draft pick, while our own heavily critiqued DJ Hayden has also shown signs of improving. Safety in a injury-hit revolving door at the moment, but with Nate Allen coming back soon, Charles Woodson rocking the field and TJ Carrie looking great anywhere in the backfield (bar returning punts) we look pretty set. I also like Neiko Thorpe.

Chimdi Chekwa returns

So just one day after being cut by the New England Patriots, the Oakland Raiders resigned CB Chimdi Chekwa, a move I like a lot. Why?

(1) He’s got some experience, having been drafted by us in 2011, and our most experienced CB on the roster prior to Chekwa signing was DJ Hayden

(2) he’s fast

(3) he’s a great gunner on special teams

(4) he’ll come cheap now he’s been through Patriot cuts

(5) he’s improved every year he’s been on the roster

Our top 3 CB’s right now are DJ Hayden, Keith McGill and TJ Carrie, then its a straight battle with Chimdi Chekwa, James Dockery, Neiko Thorpe (great height), Dexter McDonald, Rob Daniel, Travell Dixon and SaQwan Edwards for 2 spots, that’s going to be a really interest watch.

Draft Positions of Need: Safety

In a series of articles, looking at the various positions of need, I am looking today at Safety. This isn’t a position we need to address early, because we have two strong starters, but it is a position I would be keen for us to address in the latter rounds or as an UDFA.

In my opinion Tyvon Branch is a top-10 starting strong safety and one that I expect to show significant improvements this season, as at 27 years of age he enters the peak of his career. Backing him up, however, is a bit of an unknown. Brandian Ross seems to be the club’s long-term possibility, and he has shown glimpses, but he also sucked far to often and at 191 lbs he needs to add some weight (i.e. muscle), which I’m sure he’s doing right now. Shelton Johnson also has some promise, but I really feel he needs to sit back on the practise squad to learn this season. I wouldn’t be opposed to another talent being drafted, as long as its not too early or as an UDFA, although if I’m honest free safety is probably a bigger need.

In Charles Woodson we not only have a very capable FS but we also have a leader on the field, a legend for the young players to learn from and a coach on the pitch. Woodson looked great at times last season, but as he tired the standard of his play accordingly dropped. Now in Usama Young we also have a player I really like, and he needs to come into the lineup more often to help woodson remain fresh, but Usama Young isn’t top-tier standard, and a young talent is probably required here. I’m not completely against the idea that a player I’ve talked about many times before Neiko Thorpe (  https://raidalove.wordpress.com/tag/best-fa/) can’t yet be the answer, but if a real talented player falls into the later rounds, like Dion Bailey, Lonnie Ballentine or Tre Boston, then we should certainly pounce….roll on draft day, its going to be exciting (although rather sadly I think I enjoy the UDFA acquisitions after the draft the most).

Lonnie Ballentine – watch the clips, looks really good http://nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=68818&draftyear=2014&genpos=FS