Whether it’s 2021, 2001, or 1981, the Raiders franchise is not known for sitting back and waiting for things to happen.
Whether they are based in Las Vegas, Oakland, or Los Angeles, Davis family-led ownership has always made it a point to be aggressive in free agency or the draft in hopes of landing a true difference-maker.
Sometimes that dogged pursuit of talent has worked out, such as their willingness to sign 39-year-old wide receiver Jerry Rice, who was on the Raiders’ 2002 team that made the Super Bowl.
Other times, it has left the franchise with egg on its face, such as when they selected Darrius Heyward-Bey with the seventh overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.
No team bats a thousand when it comes to roster maneuvering in the offseason, but let’s take a look at three aspects of the Raiders’ offseason that they might be regretting at this point and time.
3. Gutting the Offensive Line
It’s not especially exciting to talk about, but one of the biggest factors contributing to success in the NFL is the play of an offensive line.
Las Vegas’ protective unit up front was one of the more talented units in the league in 2019, but had a tough time staying healthy in 2020.
The Raiders traded Hudson to the Arizona Cardinals, and shipped guard Gabe Jackson to the Seattle Seahawks.
Both had been pillars of the unit for several seasons, and the lack of that experience of front might come back to bite the team.
2. Drafting Alex Leatherwood
Muscle up front 💪
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) April 30, 2021
Las Vegas’ efforts to shed salary and retool their offensive line led them to make one of the more curious selections during the 2021 NFL Draft.
With the No. 17 overall pick, the Raiders took University of Alabama offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood.
It’s not so much that Las Vegas decided to take the prospect; he had a nice college career with the Crimson Tide and played against the highest level of competition.
According to many analysts, Leatherwood was likely supposed to go in the middle of the second round, so investing such precious draft capital in him was a bizarre move.
It seemed like the Raiders knew they needed to upgrade their offensive line after parting with veterans, but made a seemingly desperate attempt to plug that hole.
1. Signing Kenyan Drake
— Kenyan Drake™ (@KDx32) March 20, 2021
This transaction might not be just the biggest regret for the Raiders; it might be the most regrettable transaction for any team in the NFL this offseason.
That’s not to say that Kenyan Drake isn’t a good player, or doesn’t bring valuable skills to an NFL offense.
He was probably underutilized in Adam Gase’s offense with the Miami Dolphins, and likely got a little bit too much criticism as the lead back of the Arizona Cardinals.
But to sign him to a two-year deal worth $11 million guaranteed when Las Vegas has one of the most durable and promising young running backs in the league with Josh Jacobs doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Las Vegas has played up Drake’s versatile skill set, including reports that they plan to use him as a receiver.
It’s hard to see a path where Drake is worth the contract as a backfield contributor, or a reception hog.