Since Jon Gruden took over for his second stint as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, the team has steadily improved.
They won four games in 2018, seven games in 2019, and eight games in 2020.
Generally speaking, they are headed in the right direction, after many wondered what the organization was doing when they traded All-Pro linebacker Khalil Mack at the start of Gruden’s tenure.
The next step for Las Vegas will be to finish the regular season strong, after stumbling to the finish line last year.
The Raiders are amongst a group of teams who figure to vie for Wild Card spots in the AFC in 2021.
As we approach one month from the start of training camp, here are three questions the Raiders should look to answer this preseason.
3. Should They Extend Darren Waller Now?
The Raiders truly did an amazing job unearthing an all-world talent at tight end.
Darren Waller had some personal demons to overcome during the first couple years of his NFL career.
While with the Baltimore Ravens, he could never really get on the straight and narrow.
Waller’s career was very much in jeopardy as he bounced around from the reserve suspended list to the practice squad.
But Las Vegas took a chance 6-foot-6 athletic specimen, and he has done nothing but excel on and off the field for them.
Waller is owed over $6 million in each of the next three seasons, but will likely not want to play at that salary for much longer given his production.
What’s next for @Rackkwall83 in 2021?
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) March 5, 2021
2. Will The Defense Improve Enough?
Last year, Las Vegas’ defense finished in the bottom 10 in the NFL in passing yards allowed, rushing yards allowed, and penalties committed.
That’s not a good recipe for success, and that unit’s production will need to be far better this season.
They have some pretty stiff competition in their division, which won’t make that task easy, but the Raiders can’t afford to be a sieve on defense again.
The team signed pass-rushing mercenary Yannick Ngakoue this offseason, who will be relied on heavily to get pressure on the quarterback.
They also selected promising safety Trevon Moehrig in round two of the 2021 NFL Draft, who the Raiders will pair with ascending third-year safety Johnathan Abram.
The tandem will be counted on to help keep everything in front of them in 2021.
1. How Will Kenyan Drake Be Used?
In one of the most eyebrow raising moves of the postseason, Las Vegas signed running back Kenyan Drake to a two-year deal worth $11 million guaranteed.
The price tag, and the ensuing comments from the organization led some to believe that they were hedging their bet with workhorse running back Josh Jacobs.
Will Las Vegas use Drake in a 50/50 timeshare with Jacobs, with whom the team invested a first-round draft pick in 2019?
Or will Jacobs still be the focal point of the rushing offense, with Drake coming in sparingly?
— Kenyan Drake™ (@KDx32) June 14, 2021
In a third scenario, the team has hinted Drake was signed to be used primarily as a receiver, which is a bit suspect considering the young talent Las Vegas has with that group already.
It will be fascinating to see what ends up happening with Drake this preseason.NEXT: Are Raiders As Loyal To Derek Carr As He Is To Them?