The Comeback is previewing all 32 NFL teams from worst to first leading up to the start of the 2018 regular season on Sept. 6. Up next in our preseason rankings are the living-in-the-past Oakland Raiders.

2017 in a nutshell: Franchise quarterback Derek Carr isn’t himself, the defense again fails to support star pass-rusher Khalil Mack and the Marshawn Lynch-led running game sputters in a disappointing six-win season that results in the firing of head coach Jack Del Rio.

What’s different: What’s old is different, as Jon Gruden returns in relief of Del Rio. And that’s not the only place they’ve gotten older. With Jordy Nelson, Doug Martin, Derrick Johnson and Leon Hall joining the fray, the Raiders are throwing it back to 2012.

Why they could be awesome: Carr is healthier than he was in 2017.

Why they could suck: Gruden is living in another decade, they still don’t have much support for Carr and Mack, and Mack continues to hold out in a contract dispute.

Major additions: Nelson, Martin, Johnson, Hall, cornerback Rashaan Melvin, linebacker Tahir Whitehead, wide receiver Martavis Bryant and first-round offensive tackle Kolton Miller.

Major losses: Wide receiver Michael Crabtree, defensive tackle Denico Autry, cornerbacks T.J. Carrie and David Amerson.

Breakout watch: They need another play-maker on defense, and third-year safety Karl Joseph has that in him. The 2016 No. 14 overall pick intercepted five passes in just four games as a senior at West Virginia, and he’s due for a breakout season as a 25-year-old in 2018.

Position to watch: Running back is weird. Martin and Lynch don’t have a lot left in the tank, while Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington both failed to build off impressive rookie seasons as sophomores in 2017. It’s tough to tell where Gruden will go back there, but all four should have a shot at playing big roles.

Prediction: Let’s remember that Gruden inherited a Super Bowl team from Tony Dungy, and he went 45-51 during his last six seasons in Tampa. And that was a decade ago! He’ll do more harm than good to a team that simply lacks depth.

7-9, 4th place in the AFC West

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at theScore.com, a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at CBSSports.com, Deadspin, FoxSports.com, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Comeback Media, but his day gig has him covering the NFL nationally for Bleacher Report.

4 thoughts on “2018 NFL preseason rankings: No. 19 Oakland Raiders

  1. Great. Someone that obviously knows sports but doesn’t know the Raiders. Just because they acquired vets doesn’t mean they didn’t improve that wreck of a team last year or wreck of a coaching staff. Replacing Del Rio (aka Jeff Fisher) with Gruden IMPROVES the team. It means the coach is older?? What the hell is that? I know it sets up your next sentence, but that’s ridiculous. If Belichick came to the Raiders would you say, “oh, it makes the coaching staff older.” No! It makes them better. That coaching staff sucked last year.

    No support for Mack (if he plays) this year? Draft picks PJ Hall and Maurice Hurst improve an anemic interior pass rush. Arden Key adds more depth on edge. Last years first round pick appears to be healthy and will improve secondary. Karl Joseph is serviceable, but he’s too small. Couldn’t cover the Rams 2nd string TE in yesterday’s game. The biggest reason the defense will improve this year is because they have a competent coordinator. The Raiders defense doesn’t need a play maker. They need play makers. Look at that defense with Mack the last couple years. He was the MVP and they still sucked.

    As far as offense, it goes as far a Carr takes them. If he’s injured they are doomed…like most teams I suppose. I don’t care if they have Julio Jones, OBJ or Hopkins. Connor Cook or EJ Manuel couldn’t hit them anyway.

    Here’s the reason the Raiders could fail this year:
    – disappointing drafts the last 3 years (2015-17)
    – Mack holds out or gets traded for draft picks
    – Arden Key and Martavis Bryant behave like Aldon Smith
    – Maurice Hurst has a heart attack
    – Carr gets injured
    – Ken Norton Jr gets rehired

    1. The writer of this article just “mailed it in”. It’s obvious he did absolutely no research prior to writing it. And I guess when you’re under deadline , sometimes that happens. For example, he says the Raiders’ got “old” by replacing Del Rio with Gruden. Gruden is actually younger than Del Rio. ( albeit by 4 months). The writer says Gruden inherited a Super Bowl team when he went to the Bucs, failing to mention that Gruden built a Superbowl team while he was with the Raiders. The writer fails to acknowledge the biggest upgrade on the team: coaching. Gruden has surrounded himself with superior coaches. Del Rio on the other hand, committed a huge ( double) blunder by firing Musgrave ( the offensive coordinator) after their 12-4 season, and retainer Ken Norton Jr as the Def. coordinator.
      The Raiders will win their division, in my opinion.

      1. Yeah, I should give the writer a break. Who knows if his boss had him crank out all 32 team rankings by the end of the day. But that’s the problem with sports generalists like Coward / Bayless etc… They aren’t specialist and tackle multiple topics within a day. I love the raiders (as I’m sure you do too) and follow every move, watch every game and read everything I can. However, ask me about the Atlanta Falcons and I know nothing.

        1. I’m with you. Diehard Raiders fan for a long, long time. I hope you ( we ) enjoy many thrilling moments this year and that Gruden guides the team back to the playoffs. And , as an added bonus…sweep the Chiefs ! 😉

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