With just over three weeks before the start of training camp, the Raiders continue to assess their roster needs as they try to gather the best 90 players to compete for 53 roster spots.
Their fans continue to have questions about areas of need. From Ndamukong Suh to potential help along the offensive line, this week’s mailbag was filled with questions about how the Raiders can bolster the roster.
Here is a sampling of what showed up:
VALLEJO (@Vallejoangel8): Daryl Williams or Ndamukong Suh? Which is more likely?
Vincent Bonsignore: If one were to rank the Raiders perceived biggest needs, the offensive line would probably be at the top of the list. On paper Williams, who has played both right tackle and right guard in his career, would seem to be a fit for the Raiders. Depending on how things play out with Alex Leatherwood, Williams can fill a hole at either tackle or guard in the starting lineup and help strengthen the entire unit.
On paper, that is.
The great unknown is how general manager Dave Ziegler and coach Josh McDaniels have assessed the offensive line after getting an up-close look at that group during the offseason program. It could very well be they are content with rolling into camp with the players on hand, and figuring out the best group of starting five and reserves from within the building. The lack of action in terms of tinkering with the roster since the end of OTAs suggests that is the current thinking.
As for Suh, a consistent message is the Raiders aren’t interested — at this point — in adding the former Pro Bowl defensive lineman. Whether that is because of fit or financial considerations is not known. But for now, anyway, Suh doesn’t seem to be in their plans.
CasonPoint (@Casonpointshow): Is there anyone other than Suh being looked at to spend the available salary cap?
VB: The Raiders have cap space to play with, but that doesn’t mean they have cash left in the budget to apply to personnel. Those are two different things, and with the Raiders already committing the 12th most cash in the NFL to their roster, you get the feeling they might be close to budget.
It is probably a good idea to hold onto whatever remains in the budget to cover any replacements that might be needed because of an injury or, if at the end of camp it is obvious the Raiders need help in a particular area, they can adequately address it.
Nick (@atto aritweets): Will we play a 4-3 or 3-4 defensive alignment?
VB: The Raiders will play a base 3-4 defense — three defensive linemen, two outside linebackers and two inside linebackers. Yet they will be flexible out of their sub-packages and you might see everything from four down linemen or six players standing up at the line of scrimmage trying to confuse the opposing quarterback.
Ian Martinez (@Ian_Martinez10): Which rookie has stood out the most? Also, how has Malcolm Koonce looked? I was really excited for him going into the next season.
VB: Not sure any of the rookies stood out, but it felt like guys were developing where they needed to be. The key will be taking what they learned in OTAs and minicamp and applying it to training camp, where they will get earnest opportunities to earn roles for themselves. As opposed to years past, the Raiders don’t need any rookies to fill starting positions, so whatever role they do end up with will have been earned.
Koonce was getting plenty of reps as the backup to Maxx Crosby at defensive end, and continues to show some of the necessary skills to be a viable pass rusher. He could be in line to make a big jump in his second year.
Michael (@Michael85132623): I keep seeing photos of Chris Jones of the Chiefs saying that he signed with the Raiders.
VB: While the Raiders did sign a Chris Jones, it is not the Chiefs’ Chris Jones. The Jones the Raiders signed is a cornerback.