ESPN ranks Las Vegas Raiders roster towards the bottom of the NFL

Jul 5, 2023, 12:16 PM

George Pickens #14 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is tackled by Maxx Crosby #98 of the Las Vegas Raider...

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - DECEMBER 24: George Pickens #14 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is tackled by Maxx Crosby #98 of the Las Vegas Raiders in the third quarter at Acrisure Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gaelen Morse/Getty Images)

(Photo by Gaelen Morse/Getty Images)

The Las Vegas Raiders are going into the 2023 season with much different expectations than last year.

After acquiring star receiver Davante Adams in the offseason, many predicted the Silver & Black to contend with the Kansas City Chiefs for the top spot in the AFC West. That, however, did not play out as many predicted. While Adams and Raiders running back Josh Jacobs saw individual success, the team struggled, finishing the year with a 6-11 record.

Following the season, the Raiders released longtime quarterback Derek Carr and replaced him with Jimmy Garoppolo. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback fractured his foot in Week 13 against the Miami Dolphins. Garoppolo would miss the team’s OTA’s as the 31-year-old gunslinger works his way back from surgery.

“I have no anxiety. You guys might have anxiety, I don’t have any anxiety,” McDaniels said at the time about Garoppolo’s health and if there’s any concern the foot doesn’t heal before the start of the 2023 season.

Where does the Raiders roster rank?

With the draft and free agency well behind us and training camps weeks away from starting, ESPN football analysts Mike Clay and Seth Walder took the time to rank all 32 rosters in the NFL.

And while ESPN ranked Las Vegas towards the bottom at 21st, they were able to find some bright spots, specifically with the edge rushers.

Maxx Crosby (37.5 sacks during his first four seasons) has emerged as one of the league’s best pass-rushers. Chandler Jones, 33, wasn’t quite as dominant as usual in 2022, but he’s still a difference-maker. Even if Jones takes another step back, waiting in the wings is first-round rookie Tyree Wilson.

Walder goes on to say that Wilson could be the team’s X-Factor.

If he can burst into the NFL with immediate production, he and Crosby would make a tough duo for opposing quarterbacks.

So if the edge rushers are the strongest units, what are the weakest? No, it’s not the quarterbacks, Clay and Walder go back to the defense.

The rest of the defense. The Raiders finished 30th in defensive EPA last season (last against the pass), and it’s possible the unit may be worse in 2023.

Preseason rankings may change a few more times until the first whistle blows in September. Until then, the Las Vegas Raiders will have plenty of doubters to prove wrong in 2023.

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