That’s right, we’re doing a prediction of who the starters for the Oakland Raiders will be and training camp hasn’t even started yet. It’s that time of the offseason, ladies and gentlemen. There’s no real news to talk about, but that’s the glorious thing about being an obsessive Raiders fan, there’s always conversations to be had about the team even if there isn’t any recent news to discuss.
So, that’s what we try to do during the most boring part of the offseason, start conversations. Earlier, we did a way too early 53 man projection that led to a lot of discussion about how the roster will look next season. Today, we do a projection of who the starters one each side of the ball will be and hopefully, more great conversations result.
So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at who I think will be the starters when the season comes around.. at least as of now.
– Quarterback: Derek Carr (shocker)
– Fulback (I mean, it’s the Jon Gruden Raiders, we have to name a starting FB, right?): Keith Smith
– Running Back: Marshawn Lynch
– Tight End: Lee Smith
– Wide Receiver 1: Amari Cooper
– Wide Receiver 2: Jordy Nelson
– Right Tackle: Denver Kirkland
– Right Guard: Gabe Jackson
– Center: Rodney Hudson
– Left Guard: Kelechi Osemele
– Left Tackle: Donald Penn
I went with a fullback instead of a third wide receiver because it appears that’s what Gruden would do, despite most of the league going the other way. If there was a third WR, it would have been Martavis Bryant.
I am not high on Brandon Parker and it does not appear the team will be playing Kolton Miller at right tackle. Of the tackles on the team, Kirkland is the most agile and mobile which means he is the one who would fit with Tom Cable’s scheme the best, if you ask me.
I chose Lee Smith for starting tight end over Jared Cook again as a nod to Gruden and what he wants to do. Cook will see a ton of playing time and will be the starting TE for passing purposes but I think Lee Smith will be playing a ton as I think the Raiders will run the ball a ton.
– Left Defensive End: Khalil Mack
– Defensive Tackle: Justin Ellis
– Defensive Tackle: Maurice Hurst
– Right Defensive End: Bruce Irvin
– Linebacker 1: Derrick Johnson
– Linebacker 2: Tahir Whitehead
– Cornerback 1: Gareon Conley
– Cornerback 2: Rashaan Melvin
– Cornerback 3: Daryl Worley
– Strong Safety: Marcus Gilchrist
– Free Safety: Karl Joseph
Yes, this is a sub package lineup and that’s because much like the rest of the NFL, the Raiders defense will spend more time in a sub package than their base package. At least if Paul Guenther is as good as we all think he is. That was a major problem last season as Ken Norton, Jr. often had a base package in the game against a three wide receiver set. I expect to see far more sub package sets from the Raiders this year.
In a base package set, I would assume Nicholas Morrow will get most of the third linebacker snaps with Marquel Lee pushing to try and steal some of those snaps.
Daryl Worley is my CB3 but when he’s in the game, I don’t imagine he will be playing the nickel corner role. He’s more of an outside guy so when he’s in the game, I could see Conley sliding inside to cover the slot while Melvin and Worley cover the outside receivers.
Well, there you have it. My way too early prediction for the Raiders starters in 2018. What say you, Raider Nation? What did I get right? What did I get wrong? Let’s discuss!