The Las Vegas Raiders are coming off of an 8-8 season which was filled with ups and downs. They were the only team to take down Patrick Mahomes in the regular season, but a 1-5 stretch in the back half of the schedule derailed any playoff chances they had. This team made some intriguing additions in the offseason such as running back Kenyan Drake and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, but will they be enough for Jon Gruden to record his first winning season in his second stint with the franchise?
Like every NFL team, the Raiders experienced turnover on both sides of the ball. They lost some pieces, but hope some of the new players they acquired in the 2021 NFL Draft can step in and make an immediate impact. Below, we will break down what the Raiders’ 2021 depth chart could look like. Several players mentioned will not make the 53-man roster, but let’s take a look at what a rough depth chart would look like for Las Vegas right now.
Rookies will be denoted with a (*).
Gruden has plenty of running backs to utilize this season with Jacobs, Drake, Richard and Riddick. Drake is even expected to get some run at wide receiver, which leads us to the most intriguing position group for Las Vegas on offense. Ruggs is expected to be a starter and Renfrow will get touches from the slot, but what about the other starting spot? Jones has experience on the outside, but the Raiders also seem to have high hopes for second-year wideout Edwards. Las Vegas also took a shot on the veteran Brown in free agency, who is just one year removed from a 1,000-yard season. I like this wide receiver corps, and there is plenty of competition to pay attention to.
The Raiders had plenty of offensive line turnover this offseason, as they traded away Trent Brown, Rodney Hudson and Gabe Jackson. Las Vegas did use its first pick on an offensive lineman, although many felt like they reached on Leatherwood. Still, he should be set to start immediately on the right side. The center position could be an interesting one to watch. Many depth charts have James as the starter, but the Raiders also signed Martin, who was the Houston Texans‘ starting center for the past four years. He may be the one to captain the middle of the offensive line.
The Raiders revamped the defensive line, as they added two new starters in Ngakoue and Jefferson. They also added an intriguing player in Thomas, who is a former No. 3 overall pick. It’s hard not to be interested by the potential position battle at defensive end. With Ngakoue as an unquestioned starter, Ferrell and Crosby will be put in direct competition with each other. Both were drafted by the Raiders in 2019, but Ferrell was a No. 4 overall pick while Crosby was a fourth-round pick. Still, Crosby was the one who exploded onto the scene, as he recorded 10 sacks in his rookie season to go along with 47 combined tackles. Ferrell has recorded just 6.5 sacks in 26 career games. Both figure to get playing time, but they may be battling for snaps.
Speaking of competition, there should be plenty of that in the secondary. We didn’t even have room to list all of the cornerbacks. Las Vegas acquired the veteran corner Hayward, but also has Arnette, who the Raiders selected with the No. 19 overall pick in last year’s draft. The Raiders could have a potential dynamic duo at safety, with the rookie Moehrig and then the physical Abram, who played in 13 games last season after missing most of his rookie campaign due to injury. This unit as a whole is going to have to be much better in 2021 if the Raiders want a chance at making the playoffs, and they will have a great shot of that if they can stay healthy.