It’s the dead time of the Raiders offseason so that means it’s time to have a little fun while talking about the team. Specifically, I thought it would be fun to take things back to high school days and do some senior class superlatives, but with the Raiders roster.
So, here we go!
Derek Carr/Khalil Mack
Khalil Mack and Derek Carr have got to be the two names that come to mind for this topic. I know some Raiders fans might have thrown up a bit in their mouths by the fact that I mentioned Carr in here after the season he had in 2017 but the reality is that he was in the conversation for MVP just one year earlier.
Both of these guys have what it takes to be mentioned among the best in the league, the question is whether or not this coaching staff can get the most out of them in order to snag one of these awards.
I’m going to surprise many of you and choose Arden Key over Maurice Hurst. I think that when you watch the team, you will feel like Hurst has the biggest impact of any rookie. But when you look at the stat sheet, I think Arden Key could end up with better numbers, in large part because of what Hurst does. But because people often put so much weight on stats, I could see Key getting the nod for ROY if he stacks up sacks, regardless of the fact that many of those sacks will likely come because of what Hurst is doing in the middle of the line.
This one was tough since pretty much everyone had a bad season in 2017. It’s hard to regress when you played as poorly as most of the Raiders did last year. That being said, I have a concern that father time has been held at bay for long enough and is coming for Donald Penn. And as we all know, father time is the only undefeated entity in all of sports. Yes, even Tom Brady gonna take that L eventually.
But for now, it’s likely going to be Penn, who has already shown signs of slowing down after ending both of the past two seasons with injuries. His saving grace might be if Kolton Miller doesn’t play well enough to beat him out for the starting role.
I already wrote about why I think Joseph could have a breakout season under Paul Guenther and his staff. But he’s also a guy who has had issues competing at the NFL level thanks to his size so this is going to be a huge make of break year for him.
That said, in his rookie season, Joseph was a difference maker for the Raiders so we know he has the talent to contribute. The question is whether or not he can put it all together after a rocky start to his NFL career. If so, he could easily be the most improved player this season.
The rumors have been circulating for a while now that Melifonwu might not be long for this team. Another one of Reggie McKenzie’s “Al Davis Special” in the second round, Melifonwu is a physical specimen with tons of upside but who is also painfully raw and may never reach the upside he’s capable of.
Plus, Melifonwu continues to fight nagging injuries and that has led people to continue to question how much he really loves football and whether or not he has a place on this Raiders team moving forward. If he can’t get healthy and show something in training camp, I could easily see him being cut before the season starts.