Raiders offensive depth chart: Expect Lynch to be unleashed
The Raiders offense was tough to stop last year. The unit had weapons galore at receiver and running back, with a stout offensive line that allowed quarterback Derek Carr to do his thing. The Silver and Black’s signal caller led several dramatic comebacks and high-scoring games in 2016, but this unit figures to be even better.
The Raiders have added weapons at tight end, kept the line basically intact and, of course, brought in Beast Mode. Hopes are high for an offense that can run with power and pass with precision. Let’s take a look at position groups and see where its strengths lie:
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Todd Downing
OL: Mike Tice, Tim Holt (asst.)
RB: Bernie Parmalee
WR: Rob Moore, Nick Holz (asst.)
TE: Bobby Johnson
QB: Jake Peetz
QUALITY CONTROL: Nate Tice
Downing takes control of this offense from Bill Musgrave, who was allowed to leave this offseason. Downing is a bright young offensive mind promoted from quarterbacks coach, and should allow quarterback Derek Carr to have more input in the game plan. Downing will mix a physical rushing attack with Carr’s ability to work downfield to orchestrate what should be a steadily productive attack. Tice might be the NFL’s best offensive line coach. Skill position coaches remain the same for a third year.
LT: Donald Penn
LG: Kelechi Osemele
C: Rodney Hudson
RG: Gabe Jackson
RT: Marshall Newhouse, Vadal Alexander, Austin Howard
BACKUP GUARDS: Jon Feliciano, Denver Kirkland, Oni Omoile, Jordan Simmons
BACKUP TACKLES: David Sharpe, Jylan Ware, Ian Silberman, Chauncey Briggs, Kareem Are
The Raiders are deep and experienced along the offensive line, with premier players in four spots moving from left to right. Right tackle should be training camp’s biggest position battle, waged between frontrunner Marshall Newhouse, Vadal Alexander and Austin Howard, who missed the offseason program recovering from shoulder surgery. Feliciano is the primary backup at center and both guard spots. The team likes what it’s seen from Sharpe, a fourth-round rookie who can play both tackles.
This line is the offensive engine, one excellent in pass protection and a perfect fit to Marshawn Lynch’s rushing style.
STARTERS: Jared Cook, Lee Smith
BACKUPS: Clive Walford, Gabe Holmes, Ryan O’Malley, Cooper Helfet, Pharaoh Brown
Cook provides a significant upgrade to the passing game and a big, sure target in the middle of the field. That was supposed to be Walford’s role, but he hasn’t proven consistent or healthy enough to claim it outright. Having Cook in the pattern could change how the Raiders are defended, and should make life difficult on coverage linebackers and safeties.
Smith’s value can’t be understated. He’s an excellent blocker and serviceable receiver who allows the Raiders to do unique things out of a jumbo package. He’s also a locker room leader who was sorely missed after ending up on injured reserve early last season.
STARTERS: Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree
SLOT: Seth Roberts
BACKUPS: Cordarrelle Patterson, Johnny Holton, K.J. Brent, Jaydon Mickens, Isaac Whitney, Ishmael Zamora, Keon Hatcher
Cooper topped 1,000 yards and earned Pro Bowl honors his first two NFL seasons. He saw flaws in both campaigns, especially to close out the year, and vowed do better in his third season. He had an excellent offseason and bulked up some to prep for the long haul, leading many to believe him on the verge of a true breakout year. Crabtree is his wingman and a steadying presence in the patter. He’ll be a frequent target in the red zone and when Cooper is double-teamed.
Roberts will be the slot receiver, though Patterson’s offensive input could increase over his time in Minnesota. There will be a fight for Holton’s No. 5 receiver slot, with Brent and Mickens as the primary competitors.
STARTER: Marshawn Lynch
SIGNIFICANT CARRIES: Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington
BACKUPS: Taiwan Jones, Elijah Hood, John Crockett
FB: Jamize Olawale
Adding Beast Mode to the mix adds physicality to the Raiders run game, and could be a dominant force running behind a massive Raiders offensive line. He’s over 30 now and a year removed from an NFL game, but the Raiders are pleases with flashes they saw during the offseason program. They’ll play it safe with his preseason workload before unleashing him when the games actually count.
Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington will be active members of this run game, and are elusive in their own right. Both showed an ability to run on every down, and are quality receivers. Olawale will be a fullback when needed, and Jones is focused on special teams.
STARTER: Derek Carr
BACKUPS: Connor Cook, EJ Manuel
The Raiders hope Carr takes every game snap this season. That didn’t happen last year, when the MVP candidate went down in Week 16 and the Raiders season fell apart. Carr will obviously be the unquestioned starter, and believes he can improve on last year’s stellar play. He’ll have more input in the game plan and more weapons available, which should allow Carr to play with the NFL’s best quarterbacks.
Cook and Manuel will slug it out for the backup job. While the Raiders hope Cook earns it outright, Manuel will push for the No. 2 spot in an attempt to resurrect his career following a disappointing stint in Buffalo.