Oakland Raiders' Most Under- and Overrated Offseason Additions
The Oakland Raiders’ 2014 offseason will go down as one of the more crucial in the current regime’s rebuilding efforts.
In a few short months, there has been a significant amount of roster turnover, and talent upgrades have been made across the board.
When players are brought in through free agency or the draft, evaluations are made and expectations are set, but there are always players whose value is either underrated or overrated in that process.
Here is a look at those under and overrated additions for the Raiders this offseason.
Underrated: WR James Jones
Acquiring a wide receiver may not have been as much of a need as upgrading the pass rush was, but James Jones could prove to be one of the Raiders’ more important additions from this offseason.
A seven-year veteran, Jones was among the most reliable Packers receivers of late, having his best statistical seasons in 2012 and 2013.
Although his career numbers aren’t exactly that of a No. 1 receiver, it is important to consider the type of offense he played in with Green Bay.
While it was indeed a high-powered passing attack, the overall depth of their receiving corps allowed targets to be spread out quite evenly.
With less experience at the position in Oakland, Jones should be relied upon more heavily than he ever was in Green Bay, giving him the opportunity to have his most productive season yet.
Of course, his veteran presence is also a welcome addition to the Raiders’ receivers group, as the hope will be that he can have an impact on the development of some of the younger players.
Overall, Jones has the potential to impact this Raiders team in a number of ways moving forward, possibly making him one of their better acquisitions of what was a busy offseason.
Overrated: QB Matt Schaub
Acquired in an offseason trade, Matt Schaub will have an opportunity to get back to his pre-2013 level of play and have a significant impact on the success of the Raiders this season.
However, this addition falls into the overrated category of this list due to just how much of a short-term solution it may prove to be.
After the trade, head coach Dennis Allen said the Raiders saw Schaub as a long-term answer at the quarterback position, stating he can start for them for the next three to four years.
Since then, that mindset has likely changed quite a bit, both with the second-round selection of Derek Carr, and the reports of his impressive performances at offseason OTAs.
A season for Carr to sit and learn may be best for both himself and the Raiders, but the team likely wouldn’t keep him on the sidelines any longer than that.
Considering which, as much as Schaub could have an impact this season, this isn’t an addition that does much to address the future of the franchise, given 2014 could very well be his only season in silver and black.
Underrated: DT Antonio Smith
While a lot has been made about the Raiders’ key edge-rush additions this offseason, the signing of defensive tackle Antonio Smith could have a similar impact for the unit overall.
As we have seen throughout the league, with dominant interior linemen like J.J. Watt and Geno Atkins, a good interior pass rush can be even more disruptive than one off the edge.
With the Texans, Smith was a consistent force rushing the passer from the 5-technique as a 3-4 defensive end, establishing himself as one of the league’s most productive players at the position.
He will be making the switch to the 3-technique in the Raiders’ 4-3 front, but if Jason Hatcher’s 11-sack 2013 campaign is any indication, such a transition can pay off in a big way.
A similar spike in production is no guarantee, but the potential for it is there with Smith’s skill set, and the talent level of the defensive front this season.
Either way, like many of the Raiders’ signings, Smith brings value both as a veteran presence in the locker room and in his role on the field, and he should be an important addition moving forward.
Overrated: WR Greg Little
Since joining the Raiders after being claimed off waivers from the Browns, reports of Greg Little’s performances in OTAs have been relatively positive.
In a wide-open receiver competition, he will have every opportunity to win a contributing role, but the on him expectations mustn’t be set too high just yet.
Again, Little will be given a chance to earn a role within the Raiders’ offense, but as we have seen with young players in recent seasons, being able to translate solid OTA performances into in-game production is the key.
The fresh start and better quarterback situation may indeed allow Little to do just that in Oakland, but we won’t know that until preseason action gets underway.
Underrated: RB Maurice Jones-Drew
When he got to free agency this offseason, Maurice Jones-Drew found out first-hand how the market has started to shape up for running backs anywhere near the age of 30.
Even so, the Raiders were evidently a team that thought he had something left to offer, and were able to extend him the opportunity to compete for a starting job.
Jones-Drew has struggled with injury over the past two seasons, but he was easily among the league’s most productive and consistent running backs beforehand.
Of course, a player’s explosiveness will decline as they get older, which is likely more noticeable with running backs than any other position, but it is Jones-Drew’s vision, power and pass protection that have long made him the player he is.
Either way, he will likely split carries with Darren McFadden throughout the year, but the competition should keep each at the top of their game throughout.
Again, staying healthy is the key, but Jones-Drew could very well end up being one of the Raiders’ best offseason additions if he can do just that.
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