Ranking the Raiders: Top five players on the roster
For a long time, the Oakland Raiders rosters consisted of players it wasn’t worth caring about. It was a team devoid of talented players where average NFL talents looked like great players because everyone around them was so bad. But now, it’s much quicker and easier to name the players who aren’t very good than to list all of the talented players on this roster. But that begs the question: Who are the best players on this very talented Raiders roster? Let’s take a look.
It’s clear who the top two players on this team are, but there can be some debate as to whether Derek Carr or Khalil Mack should be listed as number one. In my mind, Mack is by far the better football player and deserving of the number one spot. He’s one of the best football players I’ve ever seen in person and if he continues on the path he’s been on, he will end up being one of the best players in the NFL.
2. Derek Carr
I did, however, almost put Derek Carr number one and here’s why: He means more to this team than just what he does on the field. Without Derek Carr leading the team late last season, everything fell apart. And it was about more than just the big drop off in talent at the quarterback position. The Raiders lost their leader. The heart and soul of this team. There was a drop off in quality of play, sure, but there was also a clear change in demeanor and how the team carried themselves. Carr is an excellent football player but he means more to the team than that, which is why I almost put him at number one.
This one was difficult for me. I mean, if we’re looking at resume alone, he might be ahead of Derek Carr. But you have to consider the fact that none of us know fur sure what the Raiders will get from Lynch this year. I feel fairly confident that he’s going to be at least 80% of what he was when he was at his best which is still a VERY good player. And if he is 80% of the Beastiest of Beast Modes, he’s easily the third best player on this roster. You’ll have a hard time finding someone who plays with the physicality of Lynch. People like to say that hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in sports. Personally, I think tackling Marshawn Lynch is the hardest thing to do in sports.
This is a great example of just how good this Raiders roster is. On many, many teams, there is absolutely no way that Kelechi Osemele is all of the way down at number four on this list. Osemele is arguably the best guard in the NFL and one of the best linemen period. It’s almost like the guy gets off on humiliating his opponents as he drives them to the ground. He plays with violence, aggression and without mercy. You’d be hard pressed to find a guy better suited to be an offensive lineman for the Raiders. You’d also be hard pressed to find many who are more important to the offense. While I listed Lynch as a better player, I believe Osemele is a more crucial component to this offense. Without Lynch, the Raiders can lean on Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington. Without Osemele, the Raiders offensive line goes from top three to middle of the pack.
Yesterday I wrote about how the high expectations for Amari Cooper have overshadowed his success. When Cooper is discussed, it seems as though more often than not, it’s about his un-achieved potential and how frustrating it can be knowing he can be so much better than he is. What’s lost in the frustration over late season disappearances and drops is the fact that despite those issues, Cooper has still been one of the best receivers in the league (number eight in yards last season) and showed improvement from year one to year two. He’s one of the most athletically gifted players on the Raiders and while he may be on a slower learning curve than some would like to see, he’s still already achieved the status of being a very, very good player and one of the best on this team.