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NFL 2024 Team Breakdown: Las Vegas Raiders


The Raiders locked in once Antonio Pierce was named their interim head coach last season. Now that he has cemented himself in that role, this team looks more fired up than ever. But did they do enough in the offseason to prepare for a playoff push?


Let's see where my 25th ranked team is loaded, and where they still need improvement.


Photo: Zach Bolinger/Associated Press

 

Strengths


  1. Deadly Pass Rush

  2. Improved Offensive Skill Players

  3. Gritty Offensive Line


Between Maxx Crosby, Christian Wilkins, Malcolm Koonce, and either John Jenkins or Tyree Wilson, this pass rush unit has a combined pressure rate of anywhere between 11.93% to 12.18%. For reference, the 49ers, one of the best pass rush units in the league last season, had a combined pressure rate of 13.75%, and the Giants, one of the worst, had a combined rate of 9.81%, with Dexter Lawrence accounting for over half of their total pressures. Also worth noting Wilkins and Jenkins were on the Dolphins last season, so putting these four to five pass rushers together should bring that rate up a full percentage point.


Losing Josh Jacobs isn't as bad as it seems, especially given he only had one great season from a production standpoint. The Raiders made the right call letting him go, which opened the door for them to pick up more playmakers. Through the draft, they added Brock Bowers and Dylan Laube, and through free agency, they added Michael Gallup, Jalen Guyton, Alexander Mattison, and Harrison Bryant. I'm expecting maybe one or two of these guys to make a game by game impact, but the other four to five guys will find their way to provide a spark when needed.


Two seasons ago, the Raiders came into the year with one of the worst offensive lines in the league. Fast forward to 2024, and two top 10 season-long finishes per PFF, they could make their way into the top 5. Kolton Miller just finished his 3rd year in a row with an 80+ overall blocking grade, Andre James has improved every year as the starting center, and Dylan Parham cut his pressure rate allowed from his rookie season by more than a half, dropping from 8.67% to 4.11%. Additionally, they drafted Jackson Powers-Johnson and Delmar Glaze, who posted 90+ and 80+ pass block grades respectively in their final college seasons. Thayer Munford Jr and Andrus Peat will each have a chance to compete for a starting spot as well.


Weaknesses


  1. Replaceable Level QBs

  2. Rushing Attack

  3. Inexperienced Secondary


Aidan O'Connell and Gardnew Minshew are fine quarterbacks, but they shouldn't be leading a franchise. Both were just above average, posting 64.6 and 60.6 passing grades respectively, and didn't have great overall production either, totaling 5,523 yards and 27 touchdowns on 833 attempts between the two of them. This comes out to 6.63 yards per attempt and a 3.24% TD rate - not bad, but not good either.


It pains me to say this, but from a rushing standpoint, this might be one of the weakest RB rooms in the league. Zamir White did a good job in the final few games of the season, but I don't believe he is a true 20-30 carries a game workhorse that he is made out to be. Despite having the 3rd most yards in the NFL through the final four games of the year, a lot of those yards came from wide open gaps against bottom half ranked run defenses. Alexander Mattison didn't produce in a full time starting role last year, Ameer Abdullah is on his way out of the league, and Dylan Laube was drafted to be a receiving option more than he was for his rushing ability.


I'm not saying this secondary is bad by any means - as this defense posted the 11th highest coverage grade last year, but that was helped by the pass rush. The projected starters have a combined 6,139 coverage snaps across 14 cumulative seasons. This comes out to about 438 snaps per player per year. For reference, from 2021 to 2023, 115, 114, and 110 defensive backs across the league played more snaps than the Raiders average respectively. In a conference full of pass heavy teams with top-tier QBs, they may find themselves in a hole if the pass rush can't get home.


Key Additions


  1. Christian Wilkins - Interior Defensive Lineman

  2. Brock Bowers - Tight End/Slot Receiver

  3. Jackson Powers-Johnson - Interior Offensive Lineman


Raiders desperately needed interior defensive line help, and they got it with Wilkins. He had somewhat of a slow start to his career, but he's become a top 10 interior defender over the past three seasons. His pass rush has been solid, as he's posted 70+ grades in that category in each of the past three years, but his run defense is where he makes his money. He's recorded 141 TFLs + Stops since 2021, and now he'll get to play alongside Maxx Crosby, who is one of the best run defenders in the league.


Brock brings a ton of versatility to the Raiders TE room. Despite being listed at that position, I'd expect the Raiders to run lots of 12 personnel (1 RB, 2 TEs, 2 WRs) with Brock being set at the wing/H-back, or being put out in the slot. He's got great athleticism and solid route running to do damage from any spot on the field.


JPJ falling to the Raiders was perfect for them. He was my highest graded interior offensive linemen in this class, and was a top 15 player overall for me. He's as nasty as they come in the run game, and he had full control of Oregon's OL in pass protection. He's smart, gritty, and brings some much needed meanness to the Raiders OL.


Dark Horse


Dylan Laube - Running Back


You all knew this was coming. Dylan's skillset is a great compliment to Zamir White's, and with Alexander Mattison as the clear rushing backup, plus Ameer Abdullah being the older and less effective version of Dylan, Laube has a shot for playing time right away. Come end of camp, Dylan will be their kick and punt returner, and their receiving back in passing situations. If Zamir doesn't pan out, Dylan may also be taking more carries away from him than anticipated.


Photo: Matt Aguirre/Las Vegas Raiders


Record


6-11


As of right now, the Raiders have the 10th toughest schedule across the entire NFL based on last year's records. According to my rankings, eight of their games are against top 14 teams, with five of those being against top 10 teams. They should win half of their divisional games, and the other three wins will come against some combination of the Panthers, Buccaneers, Saints, and Steelers. Maybe they steal a win against one of the top teams, but this roster is lacking real firepower outside of a few players.


 

Final Notes


If the Raiders miss playoffs, they should still keep Antonio Pierce around for at least two more seasons. Let him construct this roster how he wants, and go get a new franchise QB for 2025 and beyond. This team feels completely different with him running the ship.

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