2019 NFL Power Rankings:
No. 19 Oakland Raiders
The Hard Knocks juice is potent. Not going to lie, I've been drunk off "knocking on wood," AB's lust for family time and everything silver-and-black. The shenanigans won't cloud me from my better judgment. The second time I drank, a 16-year-old dumbass me, downed 22 shots of Patron at my boy Jakey's. I'm a big man who can handle my drank with the best. With that said, I see all the shiny toys in Jon Gruden's holster. Been hypnotized by big-named acquisitions during "Chuckie's" attempt to assemble a FOOTBALL CLUB. I'm just not there on Derek Carr.
I went into Hard Knocks open-minded. Honestly thought nothing of the hoopla surrounding Carr in 2018. Didn't take much stock into him crying nor teammates turning on him in the fashion Miko Grimes described. If any of those rumors had validity, I didn't care. However, watching him interact on HBO said a lot. There's plenty going on behind-the-scenes. That doesn't supplement the fact that Carr doesn't seem like Gruden's guy from a personality standpoint. I find Carr to be a nice guy, but that's where it stops. Leader of men and nice aren't the antithesis of one another, but neither are they similar. There's a grey area, between hardass-and-diplomat respected quarterbacks understand. Don't feel that at all with Carr. He's got a battering ram in Josh Jacobs, a gold jacket lock in Antonio Brown, massive targets in Tyrell Williams and the Alameda darling of Hard Knocks Keelan Doss at his disposal. What's he going to do with all that funk?
I'm in love with this defensive unit. When you think of football players, you think of some of the guys on the Darkside in "The Town." The Raiders had a plan when they traded away Amari Cooper to the Cowboys and All-Pro Pass Rusher Khalil Mack to Chicago. That plan may not have reaped instant results, but that wasn't the point. The point was to address multiple issues and work on creating a dynamic group for several years to come. If that means trading a generational talent like Khalil Mack, then damnit, pay to play. I remember Gruden gushing over Arden Key when he was at LSU. There's a reason why. The combination of bend, power, and speed, Key possesses is rare. He's a freak of fucking nature and going to be a problem once he puts it all together.
Now, I still think Oakland reached for Clelin Ferrell at No. 4, but I get the pick. At worst, he'll be an active force against the run. High-motor players with strong character and a championship background usually stick around in the NFL. Say what you want about Vontaze Burfict. His leadership, football IQ, and importance to a defense can't be questioned. If he played in any other era, we'd be talking about 55 in the same reverence of guys like Mike Ditka. For health reasons, the rules changed, so Vontaze is judged differently than his predecessors.
The backend features two of my favorite players. Hitman Karl Joseph and Lamarcus Joiner. Both got off two slow starts in their careers, but have turned into monsters. There's no DB like a DB from Florida. These two embody the grit from Gold Mouth Dawg, USA.
Offensive Players to Watch: Derek Carr, Josh Jacobs, Hunter Renfrow, Darren Waller
Defensive Players to Watch: Karl Joseph, Maurice Hurst, Clelin Ferrell, Gareon Conley
Fantasy Players to Watch: Antonio Brown, Josh Jacobs (middle rounds), Hunter Renfrow,
Verdict: I want to be that guy who puts Chuckie in the playoffs in Year 2, but I can’t. I’d be lying and that’s not my ministry.. It’ll be a nice building block and the Raiders will build excitement heading into Las Vegas. 8-8