Del Rio: Raiders made great strides, but 'I'm going to demand more'

Del Rio: Raiders made great strides, but 'I'm going to demand more'

Most NFL teams know when their season’s coming to a close. A team disqualified from the postseason has a firm end date, which allows for perspective shortly after the season ends.

Jack Del Rio didn’t have that luxury. He fully expected to be preparing for the AFC’s divisional round on Sunday afternoon, not reviewing a season formally done.

That was his lot following Saturday’s 27-14 loss in Houston, which closed the Raiders season with two straight losses that killed hopes of a division title and advancement in the playoffs.

It was a rough fortnight for Del Rio, who lost starting quarterback Derek Carr and left tackle Donald Penn to injury and had illness run rampant through his locker room.

The season’s abrupt, unwelcome end left the Raiders "a little raw" less than 24 hours after it came to a close, but Del Rio still believes significant progress was made.

“We’ll definitely be able to look back and be proud of what we accomplished this year,” he said on Sunday afternoon. “Then you let that sting that you feel from having it end the way it did be a reminder of how hard you need to push, how much work is in front of us, and let that fuel the type of offseason we need to have.

“We should expect more, and I’m going to demand more. We’ll evaluate everything. That’s what you do this time of year."

The Raiders will have high expectations after improving from 7-9 in 2015 to 12-4 this year, especially with a few missions unaccomplished in 2016. The Raiders didn’t win the AFC West. They didn’t host a playoff game, or advance in the postseason.

There will be plenty of positives to be analyzed in coming weeks, but Del Rio won’t look at the 2016 season as a gold standard. He’ll want more from next year’s group.

“There’s been a great deal accomplished, there’s no question about that. Is it enough? No,” Del Rio said. “I want more. We want more. As an organization, our goals are higher. So, that’s not going to change. We’re not going to pretend that it wasn’t really good. You win 12 games, that’s hard to do in this league. We won six in a row at one stretch and never really had back-to-back losses prior to yesterday.

“A lot of really good things were going on and are going on. We want to build on those. Recognize where we need to be better, and there’s several areas where we must be better in. Just kind of own up to it and roll up our sleeves and get busy.”

Del Rio will lead a complete roster evaluation, and decide where upgrades can be made. There could be changes to the coaching staff. That remains uncertain.

The Raiders definitely won’t stand pat, even with Carr’s injury complicating whether this roster was good enough for a Super Bowl run with the MVP candidate at the helm.

“We made great strides, but there’s still work to be done,” Del Rio said. “It’s not like there’s any one area where I feel like I can just say, ‘Yeah, we’ve arrived.’ I don’t feel that way. I feel like we have a really good team and I feel like there are many areas where we can improve and must improve to be the kind of football team that I want us to be.”

NFL rumors: Jets 'determined' to trade down from No. 3 pick in draft

NFL rumors: Jets 'determined' to trade down from No. 3 pick in draft

The 2019 NFL Draft is just days away. Between now and Thursday, plenty of things can change, but there reportedly could be a shaker in the draft sitting between the 49ers and the Raiders.

Sources told SNY's Ralph Vacchiano that the Jets are "determined" to trade down from the No. 3 overall pick in the draft. 

"They seem to really, really want to move down," one NFL executive said to Vacchiano. "Maybe they're just keeping their options open, but it sure seems like that No. 3 pick is for sale."

This could affect the 49ers and Raiders in opposite ways.

The 49ers can use this information to their advantage. If they decide to move down and add more draft assets, their price for the No. 2 pick has increased. In the case that quarterback-needy teams want to move up, 49ers general manager John Lynch can pick up the phone and start demanding a megadeal for his top pick.

For the Raiders, however, this could be bad news. 

Raiders GM Mike Mayock has been very protective of his big board and how he sees this draft playing out. But now a team possibly could jump Oakland for the exact prospect the Silver and Black want. 

One recent mock draft even has the Raiders trading with the 49ers to get the No. 2 pick and draft ... quarterback Drew Lock. Hey, crazier things have happened.

[RELATED: Five players the Raiders could target at No. 35 on Day 2]

Perhaps more than any other team, however, the Raiders have the greatest package to offer, with three first-round picks to move up and select exactly who they want.

Phones will ring on draft day, and the order is sure to change in one way or another.

2019 NFL Draft: Five players Raiders could target at No. 35 on Day 2


2019 NFL Draft: Five players Raiders could target at No. 35 on Day 2

The Raiders will be the NFL draft’s main attraction on Thursday night. They have three first-round draft picks available for use as scheduled or in trades up or down the draft board.

That trio isn’t the only valued piece of the Raiders’ cache. They also own the No. 35 overall pick, coming just three picks into the second round, where the Raiders can select someone considered a top talent.

They don’t have another pick slated for the draft’s second day, though general manager Mike Mayock said he wouldn’t mind getting back into the Day 2 action with an early trade down to accumulate more picks.

“I just think we have a lot of holes that need to be filled,” Mayock said at his pre-draft presser. “I think that’s a really good place to go fishing. If we can, we can.”

That attempt won’t happen until later. Right now there’s only one pick earmarked for the Raiders at No. 35. Let’s take a closer look at five players who might fit the Raiders at that spot, where you’ll see several guys the Raiders are familiar with after working with them at the Senior Bowl.

OG Chris Lindstrom, Boston College

This might be a great place to grab an offensive guard, one that could play right away and complete an offensive line restructure. There’s a hole at one guard spot with Kelechi Osemele traded to the New York Jets. The side will depend on whether Gabe Jackson stays on the right or returns to a left guard spot he has manned most of his athletic life.

Lindstrom is a good one, a nasty player and athlete who can stand in and protect or make downfield blocks in space. He might be gone at this stage, but he would be a welcome addition at No. 35 and add security to the interior offensive line that was a team strength in recent seasons.

OL Dalton Risner, Kansas State

Like Lindstrom, Risner impressed the Raiders during Senior Bowl week. He’s tenacious, tough, coachable and versatile, a trait the Raiders prize. He could compete to play inside right away, and become an option outside if that’s required down the line. He has played center as well, giving the Raiders plenty of options to find quality starters and backups at each spot. Risner has a mean streak that would be a welcome drive no matter where he played.

DE L.J. Collier, TCU

Catching a Senior Bowl theme here? It’s pretty obvious at this stage. While that college all-star game didn’t have elite prospects, there were plenty worthy of selection in this second-round range. Collier might fit a small trade down from No. 35, he’s a scheme fit at end and could be a solid backup plan on the strong side if there’s a massive run on edge rushers in the first round. He could even be an option if the Raiders get one early, especially an athletic type better suited for the other side. Collier is a strong, nasty bull rusher who could fit into a rotation early and grow with quality coaching a development.

S Darnell Savage, Maryland

Savage is another player the Raiders liked coming into the Senior Bowl. They left with a higher opinion of him. Analysts have called him a Lamarcus Joyner clone, and they could use someone like him to work in when Joyner moves to the slot. He could back Joyner up inside as well or even compete with Karl Joseph to play next to him in time. Savage is a smart, yet aggressive player with good vision – and he ran a 4.36 40-yard dash -- who could fit into a secondary in need of one more key component.

[RELATED: Raiders top five draft needs]

CB Justin Layne, Michigan State

This is a prospect Mayock may be able to grab later in the round, but since they don’t have another draft pick until the fourth round, the Raiders GM takes a player he likes at the spot where he has a selection to grab him. He has a good feel for what receivers are trying to do, and has solid ball skills to make plays downfield.