2017 has been an eventful year so far for the Raiders and the Raider Nation. Starting with the Derek Carr-less lackluster loss to the Texans in the playoffs, things have been going downhill. Raider fans are still stinging from the recent announced move to Las Vegas and have been puzzled by Reggie McKenzie’s moves so far this year.
The Raiders had a very strong, young team playing in front of frenzied fans last season and many are envisioning them in the AFC title game this year, but now the Raiders will be a “lame duck” team playing in Oakland (the Oilers/Titans tried the lame duck route twenty years ago and it was a disaster) and shouldn’t expect the rabid support and “black hole” fervor that they’ve had for decades. Reggie McKenzie hasn’t helped matters with his odd off-season moves.
The Raiders didn’t impress in free agency at all, with the only notable pickups being WR bust Cordarrelle Patterson (his two All-Pro nods are for returning kicks, he wasn’t even starting on the receiver challenged Vikings), Jared Cook (only 17 career touchdowns, but one memorable sideline grab), and bringing in Marshawn Lynch out of retirement. With Marshawn, are the Raiders somehow thinking they’ll be getting the vintage “beast mode”? More likely they’ll get an even more diminished version of the declining 2015 “not so beastly mode” that ran for 100 yard only once and averaged 3.8 yards a carry.
Then came the 2017 draft and the pick of CB Gareon Conley, who could be staring at a rape charge soon. Overall, ESPN’s Mel Kiper blistered their choices giving them a C grade and I think it was worse than that. You have a potential Super Bowl caliber team, but also a potentially very disgruntled fan base, why take a chance on Conley? McKenzie could’ve moved back and stockpiled a couple 2nd or 3rd round picks and addressed his defensive issues with those picks. Local players like a Chidobe Awuzie (CB Colorado) and Kevin King (CB Washington) would have been solid picks that also energize the local fans. Instead, the Raider’s made odd choices like UCLA’s Eddie Vanderdoes in the 3rd round, he could’ve easily been picked a few rounds later.
Instead of an epic off-season moving the Raiders closer to elite AFC status, it’s been very Vegas style. Flashy and blinged out, but lacking in substance.