Oakland Raiders: Five Bold Predictions for the 2015-16 Season

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Dec 21, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders fan Mark Acascio aka Gorilla Rilla cheers in the Black Hole end zone against the Buffalo Bills at O.co Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Bills 26-24. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Going into the 2015-16 NFL season the Oakland Raiders are looking to make a name for themselves. After being bottom feeders in the league for more than a decade, the team brought in a new head coach, and new offensive and defensive coordinators. That, coupled with a more aggressive approach to free agency and the draft by GM Reggie McKenzie, show that the Raiders are looking to prove that they can compete.

Of course, this approach itself, means only so much. With a team like the Raiders, it will take an improved effort on the field for fans to truly believe they’re legit. After being as far away from actually competing, it is going to take a lot for Oakland to be seen as a threat. But at least on paper, they seem like a team that can be.

The Raiders went out and added a receiver in Amari Cooper in the first round of the draft. His presence will help improve the receiving corps as he will immediately step in and provide the team with a new number one receiver. And a real weapon at wide receiver is something the team has been lacking for years. The team also added former 49er’s wideout Michael Crabtree, hoping to reap some of his past rewards. After failing to prove he was worth the first round draft status San Francisco bestowed upon him, the Raiders rolled the dice, hoping a switch to the other side of the Bay will spark his game.

The Raiders also added two running backs in former Colt Trent Richardson, and former Redskin Roy Helu. Richardson will be the backup to starter Latavius Murray and the team hopes he can provide them with the type of production that made him the third overall pick in 2012. As for Helu, he will likely be the third down back for the team and provide them with a potent pass catching threat out of the backfield.

Not stopping trying to improve the squad, the Raiders added Rodney Hudson, former Chief and Pro Bowler, to become the anchor of the offensive line at the center position. At only 25, he can be the leader of the line for years to come. They also added tight end Lee Smith, formerly of the Bills. He doesn’t provide much in terms of offense, but he is one of the best blocking tight ends in the league and should provide a nice compliment to the pass catching tight end; whether it be Mychal Rivera or Clive Walford.

On defense, the team didn’t make any huge splashes, but they did bring in a couple of players who can help continue to help restore Oakland’s former mauling, hard-nose D. The team added former Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith and former Saints tackling machine Curtis Lofton. The team has a solid line backing corps with Sio Moore and now sophomore sensation Khalil Mack. Adding Lofton to start between them provides the team with a veteran presence at a key position. Adding Smith provides the team with someone who knows how to win, which is extremely valuable to a team that hasn’t tasted the postseason since 2002.

Dan Williams was added to bolster the defensive front. Playing next to sophomore Justin Ellis, Williams should provide the team with improved numbers up front. The Raiders decided to pass on Terrance Knighton, but Williams can provide similar numbers at a lower salary.

In the secondary, the team added two players in Nate Allen and James Dockery. If there is one knock on the Raiders impressive offseason is that they failed to improve on their secondary. The front seven guys should wreak havoc on opposing offenses, but the secondary isn’t going to help out much. Allen, while starting, should still be below average talent. And Dockery is likely a third stringer.

Aside from the secondary, the team had an extremely successful offseason and coupled with players already installed like Murray, Mack, Moore, and quarterback Derek Carr, the team could be poised for big things this year. They will definitely have high expectations on their backs as fans have grown tired of playing the waiting game.

With high expectations comes high responsibility. While these predictions may be bold, some will have to be reached if the team wants to prove they’re a true contender.

Next: Amari Cooper will be good, very good