The Raiders’ roster appears set as they transition into Phase 3 of their offseason program, which concludes with a mandatory minicamp June 7-9.
The assessments they will make over these next three weeks will go a long way toward deciding whether any moves are needed to fortify certain positions.
Meanwhile, their fans have questions ranging from the confidence level of the offensive line to whether Derek Carr will continue to tap into the deep ball after a series of changes at wide receiver.
Here is a sampling of some of the questions that arrived in this week’s mailbag:
Matt Berger (@matt_berger): What is your confidence level with the offensive line as currently constructed? To me, this is the key to their entire season.
Vincent Bonsignore: What is most interesting is, after Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler and their respective staffs did a deep dive into this group, their conclusion was that much of the necessary improvement is on hand. They did some tinkering with the draft picks of Dylan Parham and Thayer Munford, who might be in a position to claim a starting job. Parham could compete with incumbent John Simpson at left guard. Some people seeing Parham as a center and maybe he challenges Andre James.
But the big takeaway is that they believe they can field a formidable starting five largely derived from the returning players. That includes a healthy Denzelle Good, who seems on track to return to his starting right guard spot, which could mean Alex Leatherwood moving back to right tackle. In doing some poking around, there is a belief in the NFL that Leatherwood is capable of developing into a dependable tackle. If so, that solves a major problem.
It is understandable that fans have some trepidation about the line, but a whole bunch of young guys that got thrown together on the fly after a series of events and gained valuable experience. It is not unusual that young players benefit from those experiences and get better.
Danny Hernandez (@Danny_Hndz): Any specific away game you looking forward to? I’m thinking about going to an away game this season and New Orleans looks like a good time.
VB: New Orleans is an attractive destination. As is Seattle. But a game that really stands out is the December trip to the Los Angeles Rams. It’s on a short week. It’s against the defending Super Bowl champions. And it lands during a month on the schedule where the real players begin separating themselves from the pretenders. A spirited showing by the Raiders could be a springboard to a late-season push.
Graham (@GC_NFL): Are the Raiders looking into bringing in a more established Z receiver? Keelan Cole is solid but I’d hope they’re looking into guys like Odell Beckham Jr., Will Fuller, or Julio Jones.
VB: The sense is the Raiders like what they have created in the wide receiver room, and are eager to see how starters Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow mesh with tight end Darren Waller. It has a chance to be a prolific trio. Those options, while adding a major name factor, each represent red flags in terms of availability. Beckham Jr. is coming off a serious knee injury in the Super Bowl and Fuller is coming off a season in which he played five games and hasn’t played more than 11 games in a season since 2016. Jones, meanwhile, has played 19 games over the past two seasons. That is a lot of missed games.
Besides Cole, the Raiders also added Demarcus Robinson and Mack Hollins in free agency, and for now they seem satisfied that the depth and versatility they created is sufficient.
Ikersion (@ikersion): Is Ndamukong Suh coming to the raiders?
VB: No sense that Suh is under any serious consideration.
Frankie. P (@frankiep2096): Do you think we will continue to see the deep ball from Derek Carr, with the additions we made.
VB: The long ball will continue to be a tool for Carr. But with Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller all extremely effective after the catch, there are other ways to put pressure on the back end of a defense.