Oakland Raiders

Raiders appear to be saving biggest needs for the draft

The Oakland Raiders’ two biggest needs heading into this offseason were clear: wide receiver and defensive end. The Raiders saddled their rookie quarterback with the worst receiving group in the league last season and failed to get any pressure on opposing quarterbacks, especially with the starting defensive ends.

The Raiders’ best receiver in 2014 was James Jones, a guy who put up a lot of his stats in garbage time after the team had been blown out and was clearly going to lose. Despite those garbage time stats, Jones only finished the season with 73 catches for 666 yards. Not exactly numbers you want from your top pass-catcher.

The team should see an upgrade at the wide receiver position with the return of Rod Streater. The former undrafted free agent had a solid year in 2013, putting up 888 yards on 60 receptions. That was only his second year in the league and the first year in which he received a large number of targets. But even with the return of Streater, the Raiders need to upgrade the position and give Derek Carr some real weapons.

Meanwhile, the team finished second to last in the league in sacks with a measly 22 on the year. The only team with fewer were the Cincinnati Bengals with 20. Of those 22 sacks, only eight came from the defensive end position.

As it currently stands, the Raiders have three defensive ends on the roster with Justin Tuck, Shelby Harris and Benson Mayowa. Tuck is no longer a top flight starter and is better suited to play in a rotation so he can stay fresh. Meanwhile, Harris and Mayowa are projects who have shown potential but are a long way away from being starters.

— The top remaining free agent wideouts are Michael Crabtree and Dwayne Bowe, and one could easily argue that neither player is a true No. 1.

— The top remaining free agent defensive end is Greg Hardy, but Mark Davis told Tim Kawakami that rumors saying the Raiders were interested in signing Hardy were “False, falser and falsest.”

It’s likely that the team adds a veteran wide receiver and/or defensive end, but with most of the better players already having signed on with new teams, the Raiders will not be able to land anyone who will have much of an impact. Luckily for the team, this year’s draft is thought to be deep at both of those positions. With smart picks in the first two rounds, they could land very good players at both positions.

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