With free agency three weeks old and the NFL Draft right around the corner, don’t expect the Oakland Raiders to make many moves before round one begins. There is always the chance the Raiders will try and swing a deal with guys like Cameron Jordan supposedly on the block, but unless he is trading for terrible quarterbacks, Reggie McKenzie simply does not give up draft picks.
Now that we’re at this arbitrary end point, let’s take a look at their most overrated and underrated signings of the offseason (so far).
When the Raiders signed Lofton, many noted that he is a tackle machine, amassing over 100 in six straight seasons. One problem: Lofton also had 22 missed tackles in 2014, the most for any middle linebacker (yes, more than Miles Burris) and the second most of any player in the entire league. That’s a pretty bad sign, considering many see run defense as Lofton’s strong suit while he struggles in coverage.
It’s clear that Lofton will be an upgrade over Burris — he has a lot of starting experience and is seen as a leader on the defense. But let’s be honest, almost anyone would be an upgrade over Burris.
Roy Helu Jr.
The Raiders were in desperate need of adding starters to the roster but their most underrated signing is a guy who will be a role player. Helu was brought in as a third down back who can help the Raiders in the pass game, but don’t be surprised if he receives his fair share of touches running the ball as well. He averaged 5.4 yards per carry in 2014 and has a higher career yards per carry than Darren McFadden with a 4.4 average. While his slight stature is seen as a detriment in the run game, according to Pro Football Focus he averaged 3.43 yards per carry after first contact and forced missed tackles on almost half of his carries last season (17 of 40).
As a pass catching running back, Helu is a clear upgrade for the Raiders. Last season he caught 47 passes for 477 yards and two touchdowns while averaging 11.4 yards per catch. That means he had more yards through the air and more catches than everyone on the 2014 Raiders roster except James Jones, Andre Holmes and Mychal Rivera. He isn’t going to be a starter like Lofton, Rodney Hudson or Dan Williams, but he is the most underrated of the free agent signings.