I will do our team assessment after this.
Defensive Line- The Raiders have had the best D-line in the AFC-west the past 3 years. By best I mean the most talented and deepest. I few years ago they had Trevor Scott, Matt Shaughnessy and Jay Richardson all in rotation for one position (thats a lot of depth and talent). Speaking of Trevor Scott, he will have a lot of success in New England, the guy is a dynamic athlete (6'5 ran a 4.5 40 at his size and had 7 sacks as a backup. Luckily he was miscast-ed as a LB but now he is playing with his hand on the ground again)
Back to there D-line this year, they are still very talented. It all starts with Richard Seymour who still has elite level talent at the DT position. Tommie Kelly is right next to him (has been used as a run stuffer lately but Dennis Allen may penetrate more with him which is what he did with the Giants). Other talented players are Matt Shaughnessy, Lamarr Houston, and Desmond Bryant. All of these players could start on a D-line and are very underrated. Lamarr Houston has elite level talent on could be a real terror.
Keep in mind that although this talent is not new, it has been misused the past few years. Dennis Allen will not misuse his athletes, he will utilize their strengths.
Linebackers- Philip Wheeler, Rolando McClain, Travis Goethel, Aaron Curry and Carl Ihenacho are the only Linebackers to note. Philip Wheeler will be an excellent starter, he was arguably the best 4-3 OLB last year- https://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2012/04/02/fantasy-lb-production-tackle-per-snap-percentage/
Goethel has similar skills to Travis Greenway but also reminds me of our own Wesley Woodyard. Rolando and Curry are both well documented by now.
Defensive Backs-The Raiders have good safety talent and depth. Tyvon Branch, Michael Huff, Matt Giordano and Brandon Underwood are all good if not great. The Branch Huff combo is the best in our division.
Tyvon Branch is the best Safety in our division and one of the best in the league. He does so much and has remarkable speed. The fact that Bill Williamson ranked both Weddle and Berry ahead of him is perplexing to me. Very interested to see what Dennis Allen does with him the next few years.
The Raiders might have the worst CB's in the league. I think Allen will do alot to mask this deficiency and they are even giving Branch reps at the CB position. Either way they will have some deficiency's in the back end that Manning will exploit.
- 58 Demorrio Williams ILB- A better version of Woodyard. Good in quick route coverage diagnosis and a solid run defender. Fast but a little undersized.
- 51 Takeo Spikes ILB- Aging run stuffer.
- 95 Shaun Phillips OLB/DE- Excellent all around OLB. Is an 8 sack guy and can play the run exceptionally as well. Their best defender IMO.
- 96 Jarret Johnson OLB- A wall of a run stuffer. Running to his side will be tough and we cant run up the middle (haven't been able to since Walton has started). Running the ball will be tough thankfully we have Manning to open things up.
- 54 Melvin Ingram OLB/DE- Possibly my favorite player in the draft (between him in Gilmore). He has unbelievable athleticism. Could play running back if he wanted. His potential is really scary.
- 56 Donald Butler ILB- Plays ell againt the run. Strong player.
- 98 Antwan Barnes OLB/DE- Getting up there in age but somehow still can get to the QB.
This Linebacker group is good and there is excellent depth on the outside. Multiple areas of potential here. However an injury to Butler and or Spikes is very possible. Regardless, Spikes is a 2-downer. The Perimeter might be hard to reach with Johnson and Phillips. Antwan Barnes gets up field fast in his pass rush but can taken out of plays and attacked if they use him in coverage like they did last year. This unit should be good on 1st/2nd down run plays.
- 27 Atari Bigby SS- a very good safety when healthy. He played close to elite level at times in Green Bay. Has always been injured though and its hard to see that change. Similar signing to Bob Sanders last year for the Chargers .
- 25 Darrell Stuckey SS- Stuckey played okay last year. Similar to our young safeties he was inconsistent but I loved his college tape and he got better.
- 32 Eric Weddle FS- Above average free safety but not better than Tyvon Branch. Branch can do everything he can (as Can Eric Berry) but Weddle cannot do some of the things that Branch can (play CB in man/ off man coverage). I think Berry can do some of this if asked but not as well as Branch.
- 42 Sean Cattouse FS- Physically very talented interesting to see him next year but he isn't ready yet.
The Safeties are solid but there is a lot of youth Behind Weddle. I'm assuming Bigby doesn't play all year.
- 20 Antoine Cason CB- Very talented but I always thought he would make a better Raider becasue of his skill set and what they ask of their CB's.
- 23 Quentin Jammer CB- Very Physical and plays younger than he is. Still has the speed.
- 29 Shareece Wright CB- Very good USC Trojans corner. Quick and fast reminds me of Eric Wright of the Buccaneers.
- 38 Marcus Gilchrist CB/FS- Very talented college prospect, dont know how far he has come along.
The two starters are very strong but the depth behind them is young and inexperienced, just the way Manning likes them (insert creepy laugh). An injury would have a profound effect.
Defensive Line- A strength of this team. Its not really just the superior talent, but they have great patience and consistency.
- 72 Glenn Dorsey DE- Good against the run
- 94 Tyson Jackson DE- Good against the run but not the pass rusher they hoped for.
- 99 Amon Gordon NT- Average player
- 92 Dontari Poe NT- High ceiling guy.
- 97 Allen Bailey DE- Supreme athletic talent. Rag dolls lineman and can really take over against the run and pass. Beadles/Walton will struggle against this guy. He will have increases reps this year, watch out for him.
Mostly a Run stuffing group but that's okay with this defense.
- 59 Jovan Belcher ILB- Not a very good Linebacker. I mean he is okay but he's the guy every team is looking to eventually replace. He gets it done but against better talent he offers nothing. Ronnie Hillman will have fun juking him.
- 50 Justin Houston OLB- A good player but really overrated right now. The potential is there.
- 56 Derrick Johnson ILB- Very good LB. Like a copy of D.J. Williams.
- 52 Brandon Siler ILB- Hard worker solid backup but has serious injury concerns. Can be had in coverage.
- 91 Tamba Hali OLB- One of the best pass rushers in the NFL. So underrated by the media I really dont get it. Good in all facets of the game.
Not a lot of depth here but a solid starting group.
- 29 Eric Berry SS- Great talent. Plays the run and pass well. Also very overrated. He was inconsisant his first year, made elite level plays at times but was caught as well. He has potential but has not fulfilled it yet. Yes he made the pro bowl, but so did a very diminished Dawkins. Berry has Ed Reed like potential but hasn't played like that yet.
- 32 Abram Elam SS- Played well for the Jets a few years ago. Not remarkable and fairly average.
- 23 Kendrick Lewis FS- Very athletic and was surprising last year. He didn't play that bad. Could get better.
- 41 Kyle McCarthy SS- Not a very good safety. Can tackle well but would exposed against a Manning style offense. Strictly a run defender.
All four of these safeties have had exceptional starting experience.
- 24 Brandon Flowers CB- Great corner, dont know how he does it at his size. Very physical.
- 26 Stanford Routt CB- Makes a good #2 corner but struggled at the LCB spot last year.
- 21 Javier Arenas CB- Another small corner with good cover skills and good return ability. Nickel role mostly.
- 30 Jalil Brown CB/FS- Colorado product will have a bigger role this year.
- 34 Travis Daniels CB- Backup corner.
Not a deep unit. The secondary can be exploited if the pass rush is stopped.