Henderson, Nev.--As one of the most storied franchises in all of the sports, the Las Vegas Raiders have made a 558-mile journey from Oakland to the desert.
While that might seem a long way, it doesn't compare to how far they have come.
In one of the most promising off-seasons in all of the NFL, the Raider Nation has many reasons to be excited. Today we address three of the most significant question marks.
- Who stays and who goes at the wide receiver position?
There are only a handful of spots on the roster for wide receivers. General Manager Mike Mayock and Coach Jon Gruden have done an exceptional job of accumulating talent (three of their first four picks in the last draft), and some guys are returning healthy.
Last year the wide receiver spot was snake bit for the Silver and Black. This year it looks like it could be one of the best in the NFL, and there will be teams watching the waiver wire every day to see who doesn't make the cut for Gruden and Mayock.
- The offensive line?
The Raiders moved up in a trade with the Detroit Lions to overall pick No. 109, where they selected John Simpson of Clemson.
Mayock stole him at this pick.
Many speculated (wrongly) that it meant the end of Gabe Jackson in the silver and black. Well, Jackson and the entirety of an excellent offensive line are back. It is allowing a terrific young talent like Simpson to be groomed. How fast he moves into the playing rotation (I predict quickly) will let him get crucial reps that set him up to possibly be a starter in 2021 or by 2022 for sure.
To have this unit back and back with depth is what an elite quarterback like Derek Carr needs.
Carr isn't afraid to wait in the pocket, and he has a line that will buy him time to utilize his many new weapons.
- The next step for Josh Jacobs?
Josh Jacobs is one of the elite emerging stars at running back in the National Football League. It is a big deal to have the Raiders offensive line, but nearly as good of news for him is that there are now other weapons. With teammates healthy and Mayock and Gruden getting more arrows for Carr's offensive quiver, teams won't be able to load the box for Jacobs.
Raider Maven reached out to one coach who played the Raiders in 2019 to get his thoughts. He said in part: "Emmitt Smith was a great runner, but would he have been Emmitt Smith as we know him if he hadn't of had Michael (Irvin) and Alvin (Harper) on the wing? I am not ready to say that Jacobs is Emmitt, but I am prepared to say that he is the best young back in the league.
"Last year because of the limited resources for Carr, people keyed up, loaded the box a little bit on Jacobs, and attacked Carr. That wasn't fair to Carr, Jacobs, or the line, but it was reality. If Carr's weapons are there, he is good enough to incorporate everybody. That offensive line is excellent, and Jacobs is only going to get better. It also extends his career, not having to carry so much of the load."
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