In last year's draft, the Raiders selected Khalil Mack, an outside linebacker from the University of Buffalo, with the 5th overall pick, which substantially improved their defense. This year, the Raiders have the 4th overall pick and Mel Kiper has them picking Amari Cooper, wide receiver from the University of Alabama. Cooper is the probably the best receiver in the draft and definitely the most well-known because of his crazy skill and ability at the position. With young QB Derek Carr not having a great receiver, Cooper would fit in tremendously. Another receiver that would definitely help out, and could land in Oakland, is Packers WR Randall Cobb. Cobb is one of the biggest-name free agents and isn't a lock to stay in Green Bay by any means. Another free agent that wallstcheatsheet.com believes could end up in Oakland is Broncos TE Julius Thomas. Thomas was great the past 2 seasons with Peyton Manning passing to him for 43 receptions, 489 yards, and 12 touchdowns. Derek Carr is no Peyton Manning, but he could find a way to get Thomas the ball when needed. If the Raiders want to contend next year, I think they need to get at LEAST 2 of these 3 guys.
One of the biggest things that is a necessity in order for the Raiders to go above .500 is for the running game to live up to its potential. They have 2 running backs that used to be some of the best in the league: Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden. These 2 guys are great backs when they perform as they should and they could make opposing teams make the game plan be "stop the run". The Cowboys did that in the 2014 season with DeMarco Murray and they went 12-4 and almost got to the NFC Championship game, even though they were projected by most to win 4 or 5 games at most! So if those RB's do their job, pressure gets taken off of Carr.
With all of that in mind, I project the Raiders to go 6-10 in 2015 because I don't think they will be able to sign both free agents and I don't think they will have enough confidence to be that power-house offense that they have the potential to be.
-Blake McBride, MHS