Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock have big decisions to make as the October 28th trade deadline quickly approaches. With a 3-3 record the Raiders are in the hunt in the AFC west playoff picture.
Sunday’s game with the Texans could weigh heavily in the decision to be buyers or sellers. There has been some major improvements to this team from what we have seen so far in 2019. For example, the run game has been phenomenal with rookie Josh Jacobs, the offensive line has done a superb job in protecting Derek Carr, and the run defense currently ranks fifth in the league.
Despite the improvements, glaring needs still remain on the roster. Here are three of the Raiders biggest needs as the trade deadline approaches.
1. Edge rusher
This is beginning to get a bit redundant. It seems like pass rush has been a need for the Raiders for the past five seasons. Whether it was getting a running mate to go with Khalil Mack or now a replacement for him the Raiders have not been able to find a consistent pass rush for years.
The embarrassing 13-sack season from 2018 has been well documented, through six games this year the Raiders have 10 sacks which ranks 27th. Clelin Ferrell was selected with the fourth overall pick but has registered only one sack. Not the impact you hope for from a top five pick.
Fellow rookie Maxx Crosby looks like he has the makings of a long, productive career in the league. He has had sacks in consecutive weeks. Benson Mayowa leads the team in sacks with 4.5. His career high is 6.0. Arden Key is starting to look like a wasted pick, currently he has zero sacks and is now nursing a knee injury.
If the Raiders do look to make a move for some help in the sacks department Vic Beasley Jr and Leonard Williams are two names that are thought to be on the trade block. Beasley Jr has not developed into the top tier pass rusher the Falcons had hoped after his stellar 15.5 sack season in his rookie year. Likewise, the same can be said for Williams. Getting after the quarterback may not be his strength but he is a versatile defensive lineman who can play multiple positions along the line.
A wildcard name to keep an eye on is Yannick Ngakoue of the Jacksonville Jaguars. In 54 games he has amassed 31.5 sacks and he is only 24 years old. His contract is also up at the end of the year and should demand a decent raise. Should the Jags let him reach the open market he will be one of the more sought after players in this years free agent class. The Jags may opt not to splurge on him with promising rookie Josh Allen in the lineup. Although with Jalen Ramsey now out of the picture money should be available for Ngakoue.
With the season-long suspension to Vontaze Burfict and Marquel Lee on the IR, it has been a rough go for Raiders linebackers. Jon Gruden has resorted to adding players like Dakota Allen and Justin Phillips to go along with Tahir Whitehead, Nicholas Morrow, and Kyle Wilber.
Good luck stopping anybody with that crew.
The trade market for linebackers is not as fruitful as other positions, so it’s possible this is a position that will be better addressed in the draft.
Gareon Conley was dealt earlier in the week to the Houston Texans in exchange for a third round pick in 2020. It appears at the moment that the Raiders will be going with a youth movement at corner. Rookies Trayvon Mullen, Isaiah Johnson, and Keisean Nixon will all get a look as a long term fit across from Daryl Worley.
Should the Raiders dip their toes in the cornerback waters some names that are mentioned as potentially on the market are Patrick Peterson, Chris Harris, and Xavien Howard. All three would be major upgrades.
Xavien Howard is 26, talented, and plays for the Dolphins who are in complete rebuild mode. He is due $13.325 million next year but in today’s NFL that is a bargain for a shutdown corner and the Raiders have the money to make a move of this magnitude.
He won’t be cheap in terms of trade compensation so the Raiders better be ready to offer something good.
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