10 Players That Will Lead Oakland Raiders to 2013 Playoffs
Players Who Will Lead the Oakland Raiders to the Playoffs in 2013
First off, this whole topic is incredibly unlikely to happen for this team, and saying that alone is an understatement. The Oakland Raiders are rebuilding in the 2013 season and have made numerous changes this offseason. After finishing 4-12, fans aren't expecting much out of 2013. The Raiders front office has made it abundantly clear that this offseason's focus was to shed bad contracts, create a younger roster and build towards future years.
The team's significant moves include: trading for QB Matt Flynn, adding CBs Mike Jenkins and Tracy Porter, signing DT Vance Walker, putting together a rebuilt linebacking corps in Nick Roach, Kevin Burnett and Kaluka Maiava, trading Carson Palmer for draft picks, as well as releasing Darrius Hayward-Bey, Michael Huff, Tommy Kelly and Rolando McClain. The purges will lead to Oakland having upwards to over $70 million in cap space for 2014.
Going into the NFL Draft, Oakland still has numerous holes that need addressing. If the Raiders can find the answers to their inadequacies, it could lead to a much better season than anticipated.
Now, as unrealistic as it is to say, it is possible the Raiders could make it to the playoffs. A freak season could always be achieved — just look at the other team playing in the Coliseum, the Oakland Athletics. No one predicted that team to make the playoffs either, and lo and behold ...
A 2013 playoff run would require magnificent play from these 10 players. If it happens, Raiders fans might just end up calling for a statue of GM Reggie McKenzie. Here is a look at those 10 players.
10. Defensive Tackle: Vance Walker
Vance Walker is an addition I really liked. Walker, 26, appeared in every game last season for the Atlanta Falcons. He rated well against the run according to ProFootballFocus' rating system, while also generating a successful pass rush while at the DT position, accumulating four sacks in 2012. If the Oakland Raiders run a 4-3 defense, he will likely start for the team. He will have to have a breakout season for the Raiders to become a playoff team.
9. Wide Receiver: Rod Streater
With Darrius Hayward-Bey released, Rod Streater could potentially lineup opposite of Denarius Moore as the team's No. 2 WR. According to ESPN, head coach Dennis Allen has high hopes for the receiver.
“I want to see him start where he left off, but I want to see continued improvement ... I think the guy's got talent. I think he's a good route-runner. I think he's got good ball skills. I think he'll go up and attack the ball. I think he's a tough kid. I think he believes in a lot of the things I'm looking for in a football player.”
8. Linebacker: Nick Roach
I loved the Nick Roach addition. Roach comes into Oakland as the starting inside linebacker after the release of Rolando McClain. For the Raiders to compete in their division, Roach will have to continue his prowess against defending the run, but also improve against pass. Roach allowed receptions to 60 percent of the balls thrown his way. With McClain, the Raiders linebackers were abused against the pass. McClain allowed 74.1 percent of passes, gave up two touchdowns and allowed an outstanding 12.1 yards-per-catch average. Roach would have to emerge as a force on Oakland's defense for them to have a chance at the playoffs.
7. Wide Receiver: Denarius Moore
Entering his third season, 2013 could very well be a make-or-break year for Denarius Moore in Oakland. Moore has widely been considered a great talent in the Raiders' receiving corps. He is undoubtedly the team's No. 1 receiver at this point in time. For the Raiders to compete in the AFC West, Moore would have to exceed his 2012 production where he had 51 receptions and seven touchdowns.
6. Cornerback: Tracy Porter
Tracy Porter would have to play out of his mind for the Raiders to become playoff contenders. Oakland's pass defense ranked 20th last season, and their cornerbacks gave up 13 total touchdowns. Porter was signed earlier this month and will become the team's No. 1 CB. He is familiar with head coach Dennis Allen who he played under during his stay with the New Orleans Saints. At only 26, Porter has already been through many ups and downs. After an injury-plagued 2012, signing Porter to a one-year contract may get the most out of the young defensive back.
5. The First Round Draft Pick
Whoever it may be. DT Shariff Floyd, OT Eric Fisher, DE Dion Jordan, DE Ziggy Ansah, CB Dee Milliner, etc. ... you get the picture. Whoever the Oakland Raiders draft in the first round will surely need to make a huge impact for them to contend in the AFC West. Even people drafted in the later rounds have the potential to jump into a starting role right away for the Raiders. Going into the draft, the Raiders have holes at DT, DE, LG, RG, RT, S, TE, CB depth, LB depth, RB depth and WR depth. So, it's realistic to believe that more than one of the rookies drafted by Oakland will start in 2013.
4. Center: Stefen Wisniewski
Stefen Wisniewski needs to be great for Oakland if they want to be a playoff team. He didn't allow a sack in 2012 and will need to continue his steady progression. Going into his third year, a strong performance in 2013 could lead to a hefty contract extension. He is set to become a free agent in 2015 and if he plays well enough, with his team set to have over $70 million in cap space in 2014, he will surely earn a big payday.
3. Offensive Tackle: Jared Veldheer
Jared Veldheer has the potential to become a franchise left tackle for the Oakland Raiders. Veldheer ranked 12th overall in ProFootballFocus' ranking system. He excelled in the pass blocking department, ranking ninth. Look for the Raiders to run heavily to the left side behind Veldheer.
Furthermore, Veldheer has apparently beefed up this offseason. If that isn't promising enough, keep in mind that he is set to be a free agent after the season. I've said it before — something about players on contract years leads to big seasons.
2. Quarterbacks: Terrelle Pryor or Matt Flynn
Arguably the most important position on the football field, the Raiders will require outstanding play from the quarterback position to go to the playoffs, be it from Matt Flynn or Terrelle Pryor.
Much like the breakthrough for the Seattle Seahawks had in Russel Wilson, the Raiders would need the same. A dynamic quarterback makes a world of a difference. If Pryor or Flynn can emerge as a star, anything could happen for Oakland.
1. Running back: Darren McFadden
2013 will be a huge season for Darren McFadden. The offense will be tailored around him and he is eager to perform. If McFadden can fulfill his true potential, he could carry the offense by himself as he certainly has the skills to do so.
Even with the potential of running behind a deficient offensive line, his biggest obstacle in 2013 will be his health. Going on his sixth year, McFadden hasn't yet been healthy for a full season. On the final year of his rookie contract, a big season could be ahead for the 25-year-old running back. If the Raiders are in contention for a playoff spot in 2013, McFadden will surely be a big reason why.