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What areas do the Raiders need to address most this offseason?

The burst of energy created by the Raiders’ coaching change from Josh McDaniels to Antonio Pierce faded after two straight wins. Consecutive losses to the Dolphins and Chiefs pushed them to 5-7 as they go through their bye week. That raises questions about what they can make of this season and what course they should set for the future.

The Raiders will open their coach and general manager positions, which are held on an interim basis by Pierce and Champ Kelly, respectfully, to an extensive search no matter what happens the rest of the year. Expect plenty of intrigue after the season and big-name candidates to bubble to the surface as the team goes through the process of determining its next leadership group.

The 12 games the Raiders have played have provided a significant enough sample size to identify some areas of need they need to address on the personnel side.

Here they are, in order.

Quarterback

The Raiders are giving Aidan O’Connell ample time to show he can be a viable option as their long-term quarterback. The next five games will go a long way toward determining whether or not he is on that track.

O’Connell has acquitted himself well for a rookie fourth-round pick. It’s still fair to wonder if he can even top out as a top 15 to 20 quarterback, let alone the kind of dynamic force the NFL requires to compete for the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

All one has to do is look back on the Derek Carr years to recall the Raiders’ struggles in fielding a consistent winner behind a quarterback outside of the league’s upper echelon.

The point is, it’s high time the team secured the true difference maker that position requires. Even if it means moving a mountain or two to make it happen.

With a quarterback-rich draft developing, this might be the time the Raiders take a big swing at reeling in their franchise quarterback.

Offensive line

The Raiders returned four of five offensive-line starters from last year. The one change was the addition of right guard Greg Van Roten, who was viewed as an upgrade over last season’s starter Alex Bars.

The Raiders wanted to make other moves. They had their eye on Ohio State tackle Paris Johnson, but he was selected by the Cardinals one pick ahead of them at sixth overall. They also dabbled a bit in free agency. The bulk of their financial resources ultimately went instead to wide receiver Jakobi Meyers — essentially replacing tight end Darren Waller — and multiple defensive players.

That meant significant offensive line improvements were pushed to 2024.

No one expected this version of the offensive line to fall off so much, especially as a run-blocking unit. Josh Jacobs led the NFL in rushing last year with 1,653 yards. He’s slipped from averaging 4.9 yards per carry last season to 3.5 this one. The blame falls on the Raiders’ mediocre quarterback play and an offensive line that can’t get enough push to create consistent holes.

The Raiders need to improve at right tackle. It’s also important to add competition to push incumbents like left guard Dylan Parham, center Andre James and Van Roten.

Defensive line

Chandler Jones’ off-field incidents threw the Raiders for a loop and made their pass rush opposite defensive end Maxx Crosby inconsistent. Rookie Tyree Wilson, who was sidelined throughout the offseason and almost all of training camp while recovering from foot surgery, has been slow to get going. The 2023 seventh overall pick has a long way to go to justify the Raiders’ selection of him.

Third-year player Malcolm Koonce has had a decent season but doesn’t profile as a dominant edge defender.

The Raiders are counting on Wilson breaking through at some point. It helps he is on target to focus 100 percent on football next offseason rather than rehabbing from an injury.

But between an edge defender and a disruptive interior playmaker, the Raiders need to improve along the defensive line.

Cornerback

The Raiders coveted Devon Witherspoon in the 2023 draft before Seattle selected him two spots ahead of them at number five.

They still did a decent job of building their cornerback room. It’s helped that Amik Robertson and Nate Hobbs have been steady, yet there is no doubt the Raiders need to add an impact corner to the mix.

They drafted Jakorian Bennett in the fourth round this year and he’s been on a roller-coaster ride throughout his rookie season. It remains to be seen if he can be anything more than a role player. Jack Jones, a late addition off waivers from the Patriots, has an intriguing skill set but his fall off in New England after a solid rookie season in 2022 is a red flag.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow@VinnyBonsignore on X.

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