While many seem to believe that Derek Carr's play has been on the downturn since his breakout 2015 season, you can actually make a pretty strong argument that he's improved since then. In 2019 he threw for a career high 4,019 yards and had a career high completion percentage of 70.4% (versus 61.1% in 2015). All while working with one of the least proven WR depth charts in the league. That's not to say Carr is perfect and potentially upgradeable, but in a league depleted of young QB talent (Carr is only 28 years old), the Raiders are fortunate to have him. Backup Mike Glennon is a free agent, meaning Deshone Kizer and Nathan Peterman will likely compete for the job behind Carr. Neither of them has done much to inspire confidence at this point in their respective careers.
Need Level: Mild
Raiders Free Agency Preview at Quarterback: You could certainly make an argument that Tom Brady would be a (short term) upgrade over Carr, and the Raiders seem set on trying to reel him. If they fail in that pursuit and remain set on moving on from Carr, there are some intriguing QB options set to hit free agency. This includes Dak Prescott, Teddy Bridgewater, and Jameis Winston, who are each young (27 years or under) and offer franchise QB upside. I doubt Prescott hits the market, but Winston and Bridgewater may be available at reasonable rates considering both have a lot to prove after up and down starts to their respective careers. Marcus Mariota and Taysom Hill are probably a tier below the first three, but also offer enticing upside.
Raiders Draft Preview at Quarterback: If the Raiders opt to draft a QB, there will be a number of quality options, including: Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, Jordan Love, Jacob Eason, Jalen Hurts, and Jake Fromm. If the Raiders are targeting Tagovailoa or Herbet they will may need to move up, as elite QBs have a tendency to go off the board within the Top 4 picks.
Josh Jordan was one of the league's most productive rookies in 2019 and is entrenched as the Raiders workhorse back. Jalen Richard was given an extension in February and figures to continue his complimentary pass catching/3rd down role. The Raiders will need to increase competition behind Richard.
Need Level: Low
Raiders Free Agency Preview at Running Back: Low cost backup options like Frank Gore, Bilal Powell, C.J Prosise, and Kenneth Dixon could be considered.
Raiders Draft Preview at Running Back: The Raiders probably won't address this spot until at least Day 3 of the draft.
Tyrell Williams flashed playmaking ability (6 TDs, 15.5 ypc) in his first year with the Raiders, but he was not productive enough to justify the $44 million contract the Raiders handed him last offseason. Williams finished the year with only 42 receptions for 651 yards, though it's possible the foot injury that plagued him throughout the season deserves some of the blame. 2019 5th rounder Hunter Renfrow was very impressive out of the slot and figures to operate out of that role for years to come. After Williams and Renfrow the Raiders got very limited production out of young WRs Zay Jones, Keelan Doss, and Marcell Ateman. In summary, the Raiders have a playmaking #2 in Williams, and a solid #3 slot guy in Renfrow, what they need is an X factor WR1 and some competition at the end of the depth chart.
Need Level: High
Raiders Free Agency Preview at Wide Receiver: There does not appear to be a WR1 on the free agent market (aside from Amari Cooper... and that's not gonna happen). A healthy A.J. Green could be a WR1 but we haven't seen him play at that level since 2015. Robby Anderson and Breshad Perriman are younger WRs with great speed and upside, but neither has been consistent enough at this point to project as a WR1. Emmanuel Sanders, Randall Cobb, Paul Richardson, and Devin Funchess are vets who will likely sign reasonably affordable deals given their advanced age and or injury history. but they are more role player than X-factor.
Raiders Draft Preview at Wide Receiver: The 2020 draft class is full of talented, game changing WRs. Including Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, Henry Ruggs III, Tee Higgins, Laviska Shenault Jr., Jalen Reagor, and KJ Hamler. Jeudy and Lamb in particular profile as X Factor WR1s.
The emergence of Darren Waller was one of the best stories to come out of the NFL in 2019. Waller is locked in as the Raiders starting tight end, and at the moment he's their number one target in the passing game. His backup, 2019 4th rounder Foster Moreau, flashed big time talent himself. In fact, the Waller-Moreau duo could make up one of the league's top TE units in 2020. Derek Carrier will likely continue to serve as the #3 TE.
Need Level: Very Low
Raiders Free Agency Preview at Tight End: Not applicable.
Raiders Draft Preview at Tight End: Perhaps a late round pick to push Carrier, but TE is definitely not a focus for the Raiders.
OT: After a brutal rookie season, left tackle Kolton Miller showed major improvement in 2019. If he can build off that progress the Raiders will have a stabilizing force on the left side in 2020 and beyond. The Raiders spent big to bring in right tackle Trent Brown in 2019, and it seemed to pay off, as he fortified the right side of the Raiders O-Line and cleared big lanes for Jacobs. Backup OT is an issue, as 2018 3rd rounder Brandon Parker has struggled mightily when pressed into the starting lineup.
OG: Left guard Richie Incognito was super impressive and effective in 2019, at 36 he is not a long term solution, but for now he's a powerhouse. Right guard Gabe Jackson happens to be one of the NFL's better offensive guards himself, though his name has popped up in recent trade rumors. The Raiders also have a solid interior reserve in Denzelle Good.
C: Rodney Hudson is one of the league's best centers and anchors a unit that allowed the 8th fewest sacks in the league in 2019 (after allowing the 27th most the season before).
Need Level: Low
Raiders Offensive Line Free Agency Preview: Even if the Raiders trade Gabe Jackson, they may choose to replace him internally with Denzelle Good, who played well in reserve in 2019. If they do let go of Jackson and aren't sold on Good as a starter, they could look into options like: Graham Glasgow, Greg Van Roten, Austin Peat, and Ereck Flowers. In terms of swing tackle upgrades, the Raiders could target players like Marcus Gilbert and Cedric Ogbuehi (a 2015 1st rounder).
Raiders Offensive Line Draft Preview: Interior offensive line options for the Raiders include: Solomon Kindley, Shane Lemieux, Tyler Biadasz, and Nick Harris.
Defensive Line / Edge Rush
DE: The Raiders started two rookies at defensive end in 2019 - Maxx Crosby (pick #106) and Clelin Ferrell (pick #4). Crosby turned out to be one of the best rookie defenders in the league, finishing the season with 10 sacks. Ferrell was less productive but still posted solid numbers (4.5 sacks). Both players figure to be long term starters for the Raiders. Arden Key, a 2018 3rd rounder has yet to blossom into a productive rusher (3 sacks in 2 seasons), 2020 will be make or break for him. Benson Mayowa finished the season with 7 sacks, though he is set to hit free agency.
DT: After an exciting rookie year in 2018, Maurice Hurst had a rather underwhelming season in 2019. P.J. Hall, also a 2018 rookie, started 12 games but only produced 1.5 sacks. Johnathan Hankins was solid in his nose tackle role. The Raiders don't necessarily need to address DT, but they could certainly stand to upgrade the spot.
Need Level: Mild
Raiders Defensive Line Free Agency Preview: The Raiders could go after a big fish like Chris Jones, Arik Armstead, DJ Reader, Leonard Williams, and Javon Hargrave - any one of them would be a massive upgrade. More affordable options like Maliek Collins (who has a history with Raiders DL coach Rod Marinelli), Michael Brockers, Quinton Jefferson, and Timmy Jernigan could also be considered. Veterans Robert Quinn, Adrian Clayborn, and Mario Addison could garner interest as rotational DEs.
Raiders Defensive Line Draft Preview: Derrick Brown would be a tempting option if available at #12 overall, other top DLs include Javon Kinlaw, Ross Blacklock, and Neville Gallimore.
The Raiders opened the season with Tahir Whitehead, Vontaze Burfict, and Marquel Lee as their starting linebackers. Whitehead (who the Raiders just cut on March 9th) filled the stat sheet with tackles but saw his playing time reduced late in the year due to coverage struggles. Burfict (a 2020 free agent) appeared to be playing quite well before an illegal hit in Week 4 led to a year-long suspension. While Lee, who entered the season with high expectations after an impressive 2018 season, ended up playing in only 5 games due to injury. Needless to say this unit will likely look much different in 2020.
Need Level: Very High
Raiders Free Agency Preview at Linebacker: The free agent LB class is highlighted by Corey Littleton (a 2019 Pro Bowler) and Joe Schobert. Other solid free agent options include Nick Kwiatkowski, Blake Martinez, Christian Kirksey, Nick Vigil, Sean Lee, and Alec Ogletree. Vigil previously played under Raiders DC Paul Guenther in Cincinnati, while Lee played under Marinelli in Dallas.
Raiders Draft Preview at Linebacker: Isaiah Simmons, a LB-S hybrid, is a true impact defender who could help this defense take the next step, but it is hard to imagine the Raiders being able to select him without moving up in the draft. Other LBs likely to receive consideration are Patrick Queen, Kenneth Murray, and Zack Baun.
CB: 2019 2nd rounder Trayvon Mullen grew strong and stronger as his rookie season wore on and he will almost certainly enter the 2020 season as a starting CB. After Mullen however there is a lot of uncertainty. Daryl Worley, a 2020 free agent, played at a passable level last season and could be brought back to start somewhere in the secondary. 2019 4th rounder Isaiah Johnson didn't play much as a rookie (in part due to injury) but figures to get more of an opportunity in 2020. Keisean Nixon, a 2019 UDFA, flashed upside in limited snaps and also figures to get an extended look this upcoming offseason.
S: Jonathan Abram (2019 1st rounder) seemed destined for stardom after a strong training camp/preseason, but a Week 1 injury ended his season before it began. Expensive 2019 free agent signing Lamarcus Joyner ended up playing more nickel CB (a role in which he struggled) than safety in 2019 - perhaps the Raiders will move him back to his more natural position after a rough year. Former first rounder Karl Joseph finally broke through in 2019, but he is set to enter free agency. It remains to be seen if the Raiders will retain him.
So in review, the Raiders need to fill a starting spot at cornerback and safety (assuming Joseph leaves) and increase depth across the secondary.
Need Level: High
Raiders Defensive Back Free Agency Preview: Byron Jones is the prize gem of the free agent cornerback class, but there will be a lot of competition for his services. Other logical fits include: James Bradberry, Chris Harris, and Bradley Roby. Potential buy lows include Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby (two injury prone Eagles CBs who are talented when healthy). The Raiders could also kick the tires on big name older vets like Josh Norman and Aqib Talib. Options at safety include Ha Ha Clinton Dix, Devin McCourty, Damarious Randall, and Tony Jefferson.
Raiders Defensive Back Draft Preview: The Raiders will not be in a position to select top CB Jeffrey Okudah (unless they trade up). Meaning prospects like Trevon Diggs, Kristian Fulton, and C.J Henderson are more likely targets. Top safety prospects include: Grant Delpit and Xavier McKinney.
Daniel Carlson only hit on 73% of his FGs in 2019 - he will need to earn the starting kicker job this offseason. UDFA punter A.J Cole ranked 5th in the league in terms of punts inside the 20, needless to say he has the job locked down.
Need Level: Mild
Raiders Special Teams Free Agency Preview: Greg Zuerlein and Dan Bailey are the best kickers on the market. Both are accomplished vets who have been hampered by injuries in recent years.
Raiders Special Teams Draft Preview: Selecting a kicker on day 3 of the draft is an option, this year's top kicking prospect is considered to be Rodrigo Blankenship.