Muddled State Contributor Appreciation Post…. per Balls

In the 2nd edition of Balls’ sappy MS Appreciation posts, I want to recognize to more OG’s. Two that were crucial in the process of migrating from ESPN to Facebook, to Shootgap, and finally to MuddledState. They might not be here much anymore, or even at all, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be grateful for them getting us here. They’re Broncos fans, but for a week or two maybe we can look past that.

TheDudeAbides and McNutty… thanks for all your past, present, and future contributions to MuddledState. You are good dudes and without your efforts, we might never made it away from the dreadful AFC West Facebook Fan Page (Yikes!).

Thanks again. FO!

Muddled State Contributor Appreciation Post…. per Balls

“We are in the NFL offseason folks, the dog days of summer. While I do still fully expect the Denver Broncos to be in the news for the Aaron Rodgers trade sweepstakes in the coming weeks, it should be pretty uneventful in NFL news for the next several weeks otherwise.

I haven’t been contributing much, which is good for my personal life, but not so more for my alter ago, Balls from Muddled State. First of all, thank you everyone that keeps this place fun for the time we want to get away from our “normal lives.” This community has been such a good escape, a brotherhood of a bunch of odd ducks from all walks of life here in the US of A. We disagree sometimes, usually respectfully, but we all share many core values including family and football.

I am going to re-dedicate myself as a contributor to this joint for a couple months, not because my football team warrants it, but I think this community warrants it. I intend to post about some/most/maybe all of the folks that make this joint what it is, in appreciation posts.

The first contributor I’d like to thank, is one of the main life bloods that keeps MS going: Sir Robb Fett.

Robb, you might not even see this because your lame ass is never here anymore, but thank you. Without you, this community might have been dead in the water after the ESPN/Facebook era. You helped get us through not only those transitions, but then ShootGap and now MuddledState. That was over 10 years ago. Not a “thanks for getting us through the last 6 months, or a year,” this is a thank you for the last 10+ years of going the extra mile for a couple dozen random schmuck’s from the interwebs.

Your witty, passive aggressive, asshole-ish posts have undoubtedly ruffled many of feathers here, but your overall generosity has not gone unnoticed. Now, put your personal life priorities aside, and come home…. to MuddledState. We need you here, I need you on Fortnite, Lord needs you in the bedroom. Come back to us.

Thank you, Robb.”

-Balls, probably

AFCW Post Draft Review: Los Angeles Chargers

Some teams fared better than others in the 2019 NFL Draft, and that is especially the case in the AFC West. Now, that is to be expected when a team like the Raiders with needs all over the place head into the draft with 4 top 35 picks, and end up making 9 selections overall while a team like the Chiefs head into the draft with fewer picks including zero 1st round picks, and needs at few positions.

Lets start wit the Los Angeles Chargers.

Needs entering draft in order: DT, OG, OT, ILB, S, WR
Draft Selections: DT Jerry Tillery, S Nasir Adderley, OT Trey Pipkins, LB Drue Tranquill, QB Easton Stick, DE Emeke Egbule, DT Cortez Broughton

Best Pick: S Nasir Adderley – DT was a bigger need, and they got a good one in round 1 with Jerry Tillery so this was hard, but I think the pick of Nasir Adderley in Rd 2 was the Chargers’ best pick. I just love his game, and the versatility he bring to an already pretty loaded secondary. It will be a tall task to throw on the Chargers in 2020.

Worst Pick: OT Trey Pipkins – Listen, I’m as big of supporter as any in drafting a bit a project in that 3 rd range, but Pipkins could be had so much later. This was a pretty awful use of a good resource.

Under the Radar Pick: QB Easton Stick – Another player that was picked a little earler than most expected, but I loved it. Having a good backup QB is underrated in this league, even when you have an ironman in Philip Rivers. Stick doesn’t present a lot of upside in terms of a future starter, so I think you could do a lot worse than using a 5th rd pick on a career backup that can come in and pull out gritty wins when called upon for the next 8-10 years.

Overall: This was a great draft for the Chargers at the top, but fizzled soon after. Stick was a sneaky good pick in the 5th, but other than that after Adderley in round 2 I don’t see much upside in terms of future starter in the bunch. The 2 picks at the top are good enough to earn a solid grade.

Grade: B+

2019 MS Mock Draft 1.0

1st Pick – Raiders – Balls – QB Kyler Murray – Jon Gruden loves Kyler Murray, that much we know. How much would it take to move up to #1 to draft him? Potentially, the #4 and #27 picks in the 1st round, as well as their 2nd round pick #35 overall. They pull the trigger on this, and hope to get some draft capital back by making Derek Carr available for trade.

The Raiders have made worse #1 overall picks…

2nd Pick – 49ers – Dude – EDGE Nick Bosa – The 49ers don’t have a bad defense they just have a terrible turnover margin with a league worst -25, while only creating 7 turnovers. They need playmakers and Bosa fits that bill.

3rd Pick – Jets – McNutty – EDGE Josh Allen – Easiest pick in the draft. Team need meets BPA.

4th Pick – Cardinals – Balls – DL Quinnen Williams – The Cardinals need help up and down the squad. They take the one of the best players in the draft after trading out of the #1 pick.

5th Pick – Buccaneers – Dude – CB Greedy Williams – They could go pass rusher here but with Grimes not expected back and not having any other viable #1 CB Greedy Williams is shut down corner ready for the pass happy NFC S.

6th Pick – Giants – McNutty – QB Dwayne Haskins – The time to replace Eli is now. Giants choose a highly productive one year starter. Haskins’ live arm and consistent accuracy make him Pat Shurmur’s first pick.

7th Pick – Jaguars – Balls – OT Jawaan Taylor – Assuming the Jaguars address the QB position in free agency, they badly need to protect whoever they get. Jawaan Taylor is a really, really good OT prospect.

8th Pick – Lions – Dude – EDGE Montez Sweat – With Ansah hitting the market the Lions need pass rush help. Montez is fast as fuck and the Lions won’t Sweat his poor technique.  The combine and senior bowl solidify his top 10 placement.

9th Pick – Bills – McNutty – EDGE Rashaan Gary – One of the more interesting prospects in the draft goes to Buffalo. DT probably isn’t the Bills’ biggest concern, but Gary’s potential is worth the gamble.

10th Pick – Broncos – Balls – QB Drew Lock – I like Lock, John Elway is rumored to like Lock. The Broncos need a long term plan at QB, and Lock falls in their lap.

“Go out there and grind.”

11th Pick – Bengals – Dude – LB Devin White – The Bengals breathe a sigh of relief that Denver didn’t take their player. Devin White is a 3 down ILB that will captain a defense for his career.

12th Pick – Packers – McNutty – OL Jonah Williams – Athletic and experienced, Williams is the best lineman on the board. The Packers get a smart, versatile Day 1 starter.

13th Pick – Dolphins – Balls – DL Ed Oliver – Similar to the Cardinals, the Dolphins need help everywhere. Just take whoever falls to you, in this case Ed Oliver.

14th Pick – Falcons – Dude – DL Christian Wilkins – The Falcons are terrible against the run. I thought about Bush here but Wilkins steps in immediately next to franchise tagged Grady Jarrett to improve this issue.

15th Pick – Redskins – McNutty – QB Daniel Jones – This pick was made before the Redskins traded for Case Keenum. I’m not sure that Keenum coming to town changes this pick. Not a Jones fan, but I think a team overdrafts him.

16th Pick – Panthers – Balls – WR DK Metcalf – Pairing a receiver with the size, speed, and catch radius as DK Metcalf with what the Panthers already have going on in their offense just seems too good to pass up.

17th Pick – Browns – Dude – WR Marquise Brown – Baker Mayfield + Hollywood Brown = Oklahoma magic. That same magic should transfer to the NFL while giving Cleveland a real X Factor in their air raid style offense.

(McNutty note on the 17th pick: I could tell Dude had a boner as he wrote that. Gross.)

18th Pick – Chiefs – McNutty – CB Byron Murphy – Fat Andy trades up to take arguably the best cover CB in the draft. Murphy is a tough and aggressive, and KC will need all the help they can get in the passing game.

19th Pick – Titans – Balls – TE TJ Hockensen – The Titans were a tough team to mock, as they could go several different ways with this pick. I have them selecting TE TJ Hockensen since Delanie Walker is getting up there in age.

20th Pick – Steelers – Dude – LB Devin Bush – Not to be heartless, but I think it’s safe to say that while he is a model of positivity, Shazier isn’t coming back. Bush gives the Steelers defense an identity again and can captain that defense for years to come.

21st Pick – Seahawks – McNutty – EDGE Clelin Ferrell – The talented DE from Clemson falls to my favorite team Uncle Pete’s squad. Ferrell played on a DL filled with NFL prospects, but he was productive and displayed ability against the run and pass.

22nd Pick – Ravens – Balls – WR N’Keal Harry – This is a popular selection around the mock draft community, and it’s easy to see why. WR N’Keal Harry is a do it all receiver, who should be a huge target for 2nd year QB Lamar Jackson.

23rd Pick – Texans – Dude – OT Andre Dillard – O’Brien saw more sacks last season than Sandusky did in his career at Penn State. Watson has proven he needs more time and Dillard is a plug and play OT that can provide that.

24th Pick – Raiders – McNutty – EDGE Brian Burns – Fun fact: Brian is the great grandson of Montgomery Burns! I really like Burns’ potential as an edge rusher. His first step is a killer and he is a top tier athlete, but he’s a bit of a one-trick pony for now.

Stretch needs to hit the gym.

25th Pick – Eagles – Balls – RB Josh Jacobs – The Eagles have some talent at the running back position, by way of a RBC approach. However, I like the idea of getting a 3 down back and playmaker in Josh Jacobs and flipping their existing RB’s for picks.

26th Pick – Colts – Dude – WR Perris Campbell – Why not give Luck more weapons? Campbell’s combine earned him a spot in the first round with his workout.

27th Pick – Cardinals – McNutty – OG Cody Ford – I was doing the draft by dictating texts to Siri. Ford was the only one I could think of for the Cards. Meh.

28th Pick – Chargers – Balls – DT Dexter Lawrence – Chargers need help on the interior defensive line, badly. Dexter Lawrence is a top 15 player in this draft, and fell right into their lap.

29th Pick – Vikings – Dude – C Garrett Bradbury – The middle of the Vikings OL is terrible and Elflein took major steps back after his rookie year. Bradbury is an instant upgrade.

30th Pick – Saints – McNutty – TE Noah Fant – This almost isn’t fair giving Sean Payton an athlete like this to exploit matchups. Madden-type offense.

31st Pick – Rams – Balls – CB Trayvon Mullen – With both Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters scheduled to hit free agency in 2020, Rams elect to draft Trayvon Mullen in hopes he can fill a void at the CB position.

32nd Pick – Patriots – Dude – TE Irv Smith, Jr. – Gronkowski is almost done. And the Patriots are much more dynamic with two capable TEs. Smith is a solid blocking TE who is still athletic enough to stretch the field. He could be the Gronkowski of the future.

Offseason To-Do List 2019: Oakland Raiders

Ahhhh… nothing says offseason quite like a little sense of optimism from a fanbase of what should be pretty commonly known as one of the most incompetent franchises in all of sports… but here we are. Raiders are entering year 2 of the Jon Gruden 2.0 era, the slate has been wiped clean and Gruden has brought in friend and draft guru Mike Mayock to help build this team up the way he’d like it.

I’d like to say I know what direction Gruden and Mayock could go this offseason with over $70 Million in cap space, 10 draft picks with 4 coming in the first 35 picks, and many, many needs, but nobody really has a clue at this rate. So let’s not act like anyone really knows what the Raiders could do, I’m just going to focus on what the Raiders should do in my humble opinion.

Re-Sign – Jared Cook, Marshawn Lynch

Free Agent Targets

EDGE – Ziggy Ansah, Trey Flowers, Za’Darius Smith, Cameron Wake

MLB/WLB/SLB – Jordan Hicks, Kwon Alexander, Mark Barron, Anthony Barr, Shaq Barrett

WR – Tyrell Williams, John Brown, Golden Tate

S – There’s so many good ones, just get one.

At the end of free agency, I think the Raiders should come away with a starting S, LB, and either DE, DT or WR. They can fill out some depth with other additions, but these should be priorities. Now on to the draft.

The Raiders will approach the draft one of two ways. One with Derek Carr being their QB of the future, and one without. Lets start with the one without since that is pretty cut and dry. They will either trade enough compensation to move up to 1.1, or sit tight and see if Murray, Haskins or Lock fall to them at 1.4. Then they fill in roster needs with whatever picks they have left.

Now for the draft approach assuming they really do believe Derek Carr is the franchise QB. While the Raiders can certainly add some talent in free agency, I think they should still attack this with a BPA approach since there is so little talent to speak of. So here is a mock draft to see what that may look like through 5 rounds.

There is a million ways to go about this offseason with all the resources the Raiders have and the lack of foundational talent that is on the roster as of now, so it is anyone’s guess. This is just my opinion. Don’t trade for Antonio Brown, don’t sign Le’veon Bell unless either comes fairly reasonable. Find a few upper end starters in free agency with front loaded deals similar to what we did a few years back, and build this thing the right way by utilizing the draft capital we have in what appears to be a very high quality draft class.

Raiders Projected 53

Well, cuts will start rolling in as early as tomorrow morning, and I’d have a few names I would recommend ASAP. Lets try to narrow down the Oakland Raiders roster to the final 53 players. Not an easy chore, as there is plenty to debate regarding the quality of the top of this roster, but the bottom of the roster is full of tough decisions to be made.

Quarterbacks:

Derek Carr, Connor Cook, EJ Manuel

I hate carrying 1 bad backup QB, and especially hate carrying 2, but there is just enough questions regarding the position in it’s entirety, that I think the Raiders carry all 3.

Running Back/Fullback:

Marshawn Lynch, Keith Smith, Doug Martin, Jalen Richard

A bit of a surprise, but no DeAndre Washington and no Chris Warren. Washington gets cut given the new competition in the room and after a lackluster showing in week 3-4 of preseason the Raiders hope to stash Warren on the practice squad.

Wide Receivers:

Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson, Martavis Bryant, Seth Roberts, Dwayne Harris, Johnny Holton

One of the tougher decisions to make, Holton vs. Marcell Ateman. Ateman to the practice squad.

Tight Ends

Jared Cook, Lee Smith, Derek Carrier

Easiest decision on the roster, Paul Butler to the practice squad.

Offensive Linemen

Kolton Miller, Kelechi Osemele, Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson, Donald Penn, Jon Feliciano, Brandon Parker, David Sharpe, and Ian Silberman.

Another tough call, but I think Silberman, Felciano, and Sharpe provide the versatility to cut a Jordan Simmons.

Defensive Linemen

Bruce Irvin, Justin Ellis, PJ Hall, Maurice Hurst, Arden Key, Mario Edwards Jr, Tank Carradine, Fadol Brown, and Shilique Calhoun.

Linebackers:

Tahir Whitehead, Marquel Lee, Derrick Johnson, Nicholas Morrow, and Emmanuel Lamur.

Short on linebackers, but I think a combination of versatility and this being a pass happy league makes getting by with a couple fewer linebackers possible.

Cornerbacks:

Rashaan Melvin, Gareon Conley, Daryl Worley, Nick Nelson, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Leon Hall.

Going into the Raiders final preseason game I hated the idea of cutting Antonio Hamilton in favor of 56 year old Leon Hall. However, Hamilton go beat just enough tonight that I’ve come around to the idea of keeping another coach in the DB room in Hall.

Safeties:

Karl Joseph, Marcus Gilchrist, Reggie Nelson, Erik Harris, and Shalom Luani

11 defensive backs, that’s quite a few, but I think that is by design. I elected to cut the RB/OL room a little short to try to give the secondary room some options.

Special Teams:

K Eddie Piniero, P Johnny Townsend, LS Andrew Depaola

AFC West Training Camp Questions

Without asking the obvious, let’s look at 3 questions heading into each team’s training camp.

Los Angeles Chargers

Obvious Question – Should this team really be considered the class of the AFCW?

  1. Can the defense repeat and even build upon their successes of 2017? It sure looks like they have all the pieces in place to be one of the best defenses in the AFC. If there is a weakness, it may be in the middle of the front 7. With the ability to line up one on in on the outside, they can get creative in providing support for the middle.
  2. Will they be able to stay as healthy as they were able to in 2017? This team is usually bitten by the injury bug more often than they were in 2017. This may be worth keeping an eye on heading into training camp.
  3. How will the offensive line come together? Forrest Lamp should be ready to go in year 2, Dan Feeney has a solid rookie season, Mike Pouncey was signed in Free Agency. The pieces seem to be there, but the question will be is how they all come together.

Kansas City Chiefs

Obvious Question – Patrick Mahomes.

  1. Will the revamped defense turn things around? The Chiefs defense was bipolar last year. Rather than replacing their defensive coordinator, the Chiefs decided to part ways with players like Marcus Peters and Derrick Johnson. Not the route I would have gone, but we’ll see if it pays off.
  2. Can the offense live up to the lofty expectations? There is a ton of hype surrounding the Chiefs offense heading into the season, as many expect them to be one of the best in the league despite the unproven QB.
  3. Can Kareem Hunt repeat his extraordinary rookie season? He has all the tools to be able to be once of the best backs in the league, but it will be tough to replicate what he did in 2017. With Spencer Ware back, maybe he won’t have to.

Denver Broncos

Obvious Question – Case Keenum.

  1. Is the secondary ready to handle the loss of Aqib Talib? The Broncos have an immediate replacement at the #1 CB position in Bradley Roby, the question will be if the rest of the group is ready to step in and provide he and Chris Harris Jr the necessary support to do what Denver has done so well the last few seasons with Talib in the mix.
  2. Who starts on the offensive line, and where? The coaching staff has their work cut out for them putting the best unit together. I think you will see a myriad of combinations running in 1st/2nd team throughout training camp.
  3. Are there enough weapons to help ease the pressure for Case Keenum? Despite putting up gawdy career numbers, Demaryius Thomas just doesn’t seem like a trustworthy receiver to help alleviate that pressure. Denver drafted Courtland Sutton and Desean Hamilton, but questions still linger at the TE and RB positions.

Las Vegas Raiders by way of Oakland

Obvious Question – Jon Gruden

  1. Will Derek Carr bounce back into form? Carr was miserable in 2017. Sure, a lot of that can be attributed to those around him, but Carr still shoulders plenty of responsibility as well. Regaining his health, and hopefully a significant improvement schematically are great starts.
  2. Is Paul Guenther capable of putting a respectable defense together? Oakland added a lot of guys this offseason on that side of the ball. It sure seems like Guenther has a few more pieces in the secondary that the previous defensive coordinator didn’t have, but with the sheer amount of new faces, Guenther has his work cut out for him.
  3. How will Tom Cable and this offensive line co-exist? I still don’t know what the idea is up front, but on paper we have a predominantly zone scheme OL coach coaching up one of the heaviest offensive lines in the league. Not typically how you’d draw this up, and when Todd Downing tried running zone last year, it failed miserably.

Football Is Back!!

Offseason Review: Oakland Raiders

With the draft finally here and gone, it is time to take a step back and assess how each of the AFCW teams have done. We will start with the Las Vegas Raiders by way of Oakland.

Coaching Staff – The Raiders completely revamped their coaching staff, bringing in Jon Gruden along with his chosen staff. OC – Greg Olsen, DC – Paul Geunther, and ST – Rich Bisacchia.

Free Agents Lost – David Amerson (Chiefs), Sean Smith (State Penitentiary), TJ Carrie (Browns), Navarro Bowman (FA), Denico Autry (Colts)

Players Traded Away – Cordarelle Patterson (Patriots), Jamize Olawale (Cowboys)

Free Agents Re-Signed – Justin Ellis, Lee Smith, Reggie Nelson

Free Agents Signed – Too many to list, 20 to be exact. I will just list the notables. Rashaan Melvin, Tahir Whitehead, Jordy Nelson, Marcus Gilchrist, Daryl Worley, Leon Hall, Shareece Wright, Kyle Wilber, Tank Carradine, Doug Martin.

Raiders were busy in free agency, adding a handful of key starter/contributors, and overhauling the bottom third of the roster adding a lot of veteran depth. They did a good job of creating some quality depth across the roster that really allowed them to shift their focus to their needs entering draft day. Let’s see how they managed.

Needs Entering Draft: DT (pass rush specifically), OT, CB, DE, ILB, WR, TE, P.

Draft Selections:

Round 1, pick 15 (from ARI) — Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
Round 2, pick 57 (from TEN) — PJ Hall, DT, Sam Houston State
Round 3, pick 65 (from BAL) — Brandon Parker, OT, North Carolina A&T
Round 3, Pick 87 (from LAR) — Arden Key, DE, LSU
Round 4, pick 110 — Nick Nelson, CB, Wisconsin
Round 5, pick 140 (from IND) — Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
Round 5, pick 173 (from DAL) — Johnny Townsend, P, Florida
Round 6, pick 216 (Comp) — Azeem Victor, ILB, Washington
Round 7, pick 228 — Marcel Ateman, WR, Oklahoma State

First thing that stands out is the amount of trades that the Raiders made during the draft. They targeted players they wanted, and navigated up and down in order to draft them where they figured the value was appropriate. Let’s see how well they did in filling their needs.

DT – The Raiders have a couple quality run stopping options at defensive tackle, but they badly need some pass rush from the interior defensive line positions. They were able to draft the most productive interior pass rushers at both the FBS and the FCS levels in Maurice Hurst and PJ Hall respectively. Plenty of questions marks surround these two, but there is a very high reward associated with the risk.

OT – They drafted, arguably, the best LT prospect in the draft. I believe they would have drafted Mike McGlinchey at #10 to fill the hole at RT had they stayed put, but with the 49ers selecting him right ahead of them, the Raiders opted to trade back, pick up a little draft capital (that they’d in turn flip in a trade to the Steelers for WR Martavis Bryant) and select Kolton Miller, whom projects as Donald Penn’s replacement at LT. They also selected Brandon Parker in the 3rd round to compete for the open RT position. I’d guess he’s an early practice squad candidate, which is a huge disappointment for a 3rd round pick.

CB – A quality find in Nick Nelson from Wisconsin adds to a suddenly competitive cornerback position for the Raiders. This should be a fun group to watch compete in training camp to see if Conley/Melvin can establish themselves as the starters, and to see who rounds out the last few spots on the roster.

DE – Raiders are still looking for the “Robin” across the LOS from Khalil Mack. Bruce Irvin has been a quality player, but the Raiders could afford to find a better player at DE, freeing up Irvin to play for of a SLB role. Insert Arden Key, DE from LSU. First round talent, but a plethora of character concerns forced Key to fall to the 3rd round where the Raiders scooped him with the 87th overall pick.

ILB – I, like the Reggie McKenzie apparently, feel pretty comfortable with who they already have at the LB position, but most of the pundits had this as a much higher need. The Raiders used a late round pick to add Azeem Victor from Washington. Another player with a lot of desirable traits, but comes with questions marks as he suffered a knee injury in 2016, and a DUI arrest in 2017.

WR – Raiders added Martavis Bryant by trading the 3rd round pick they received from the Cardinals in the trade in the 1st round. Great addition if Bryant can keep his nose out of trouble. Sensing a trend?

TE – The Raiders did not address this position, and will enter OTA’s with a paper thin depth chart with a quality player in Jared Cook, but limited players behind him in Lee Smith and Derek Carrier

P – Oakland drafted Marquette King’s replacement, Johnny Townsend in the 5th round.

Raiders will have a new look this fall, with an all new coaching staff, surrounded by a ton of new faces to the Raiders. On paper, they seem to have improved greatly on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, but their success will likely be determined by the job Jon Gruden and his staff does schematically. Mark Davis and Reggie McKenzie have made a lot of risky moves. There is potential that this all blows up in their faces, but there is also a good chance that they have the makings to be a really special team.

Raiders Free Agent Grades

It’s been a while since I’ve contributed around here, so bare with me a little. I was thinking about grading the Raiders free agent signings individually in the comments section, but quickly realized we had a ton of signings and that it’d probably be best if I write an article instead. Pull a little of my own weight around here.

Much has been made of the signings in Oakland as Jon Gruden begins his tenure, that he’s following the same old recipe as his last stop. Opting for aging veterans, than the youth that typically wins out in today’s NFL.  I think it’s all overblown, and just writers looking to generate clicks, and right now there are few things in the NFL that will generate more clicks than a Raiders hot take.

Lets take a look at all of the Raiders free agency moves heading into the last few weeks before the draft.

CB Rashaan Melvin – A+ – The biggest need the Raiders had going into the offseason was at cornerback, and the Raiders added a guy that was a lockdown corner in 2017 on a cheap 1 year, $6.5M prove it deal. One of the best signings in all of free agency this offseason.

S Marcus Gilchrist – A- – The Raiders added a solid veteran DB on another small 1 year, $4.5M contract in Gilchrist. Gilchrist logged over 100 snaps at S, LB, and slot CB in 2017. Paul Guenther needed that versatility in his secondary given all the question marks it had when he agreed to be the team’s new DC.

S/CB Leon Hall – A- – A sneaky good signing by the Raiders, given Hall’s plethora of experience in Guenther’s defense. Hall can contribute in many ways off the field, and can still contribute in a limited capacity on the field as well.

LB Tahir Whitehead – B+ – One of the Raiders other big needs was at LB. Whitehead is another player that adds a lot of versatility with his ability to play all 3 LB positions in Guenther’s defense. The only reason this grade isn’t higher is due to the size of contract Oakland doled out, 3 years $18M.

WR Jordy Nelson – B – One of the bigger surprises so far this offseason, was replacing the often controversial Michael Crabtree with a more calming presence in Jordy Nelson. Given the size of the contracts that were being handed out to WR’s this free agency, Oakland has to feel good about getting Nelson for 2 years and $15M despite his age. I didn’t see a player that lost much of a step in his advanced age, I’m only a little hesitant about the signing because of Jordy’s injury history.

LB Kyle Wilber – B – Wilber adds some versatility to the Raiders depth chart, but more importantly he’s been a rock in the Cowboys special teams units since he was drafted in the 4th round of the 2014 draft.

DE Tank Carradine – B – No risk signing with some upside. Solid depth along the defensive line with some ability to contribute in ST’s.

WR/KR Dewayne Harris – B- – A solid Patterson replacement, I haven’t seen the details of this contract, but I’m assuming its in the $2-3M range annually.

FB Keith Smith – C+ – I was originally pretty high on this pickup, trading an overpaid fullback in Olawale for some draft positioning and a cheaper, better run blocking FB in Smith…. but then I saw the Raiders gave Smith a 2 year $4.2M contract.

RB Doug Martin – C – Again, little risk with some upside. If Martin makes the team, it will be because he looks like 4.9 YPC Doug Martin, and not 2.9 YPC Doug Martin in training camp.

CB Shareece Wright – C – I think you could do worse at #4/5 CB than Shareece Wright. Nothing flashy, but a decent add.

OT Breno Giocamini – D+ – The guy is not good. I have a sneaky suspicion that he will actually make the team, and be relied upon at times, which I don’t like. Hopefully the younger guys step up in training camp. I think the ability is there for Sharpe, Kirkland, Alexander and Ware, they just have to do it.

Other FA signings that I’m not going to bother elaborating on S Reggie Nelson, QB EJ Manuel, QB Josh Johnson, LB Emmanuel Lamur, P Colby Wadman, LS Andrew Depaola, TE Derek Carrier, TE Lee Smith, WR/KR Griff Whalen.

Oakland has been busy this offseason. I thought the Raiders did a solid job adding a few starters and key contributors at positions of need but maybe more importantly rounding out the bottom of the roster with high character veterans. I think McKenzie and Gruden raised the floor of the Raiders depth chart significantly on financially savvy deals. The moves should buy management a couple/few years to hopefully add more difference makers via the draft, something they haven’t been able to accomplish the last couple years.