Thursday, February 07, 2008

Team Needs: Oakland Raiders

1. Wide Receiver
Jerry Porter is a free agent, leaving Ronald Curry, who was actually their leading receiver last season, as Oakland's go-to guy. Not good. Mid-season replacement Tim Dwight quickly injured himself and is another free agent who seems unlikely to return. 2007 third-rounder Johnnie Lee Higgins is a work in progress. The Raiders need to acquire not just a number one receiver, but a number two as well.

2. Defensive Tackle
Warren Sapp has said he's retiring. Terdell Sands, after playing well in 2006 and receiving a new contract, couldn't even hold down his starting job. Gerard Warren, brought over in a trade with the Denver Broncos, claimed Sands' starting spot but was his usual inconsistent self. Tyler Brayton is a free agent coming off of his poorest season. And the best of the bunch, Tommy Kelly, is a free agent coming off of an ACL injury.

3. Defensive End
Without solid play from the guys inside, the undersized Derrick Burgess was exposed against the run. Jay Richardson has prototypical base end size, but lacked production. Pass rushing specialist Chris Clemons played well but will likely be lost to free agency.

4. Left Tackle
Barry Sims is 33 and the Raiders have been trying to replace him for years. 2007 third-rounder Mario Henderson struggled mightily and didn't look like the future here.

5. Strong Safety
Michael Huff would be better off at free safety and it finally looks like the Raiders will find a way to play him there. Rashad Baker, who was picked up after being released by the Patriots late last season, isn't ready to be more than a backup.

6. Cornerback
Nnamdi Asomugha is one of the best in the league and the Raiders will keep him from seeing free agency, at least this year. But former first-rounder Fabian Washington regressed in 2007 and lost his starting job to Stanford Routt who himself didn't look up to the task. John Bowie, the infamous fourth-round pick acquired in the Randy Moss trade, is still a ways from challenging for a starting spot.

7. Strong-side Linebacker
Robert Thomas did a decent job when asked to step in and take over for the struggling Sam Williams, but the Raiders would be best off with Thomas as a backup who could fill in at any of the linebacking spots. Williams was re-signed to a one-year deal, but it would seem his role would be limited to playing in the occasional 3-4 alignment or as a nickel pass rusher.

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