The 2017 Oakland Raiders off-season has been filled with extravagant storylines. The team is being billed as the David to New England’s Goliath, the signing of a local legend has brought a new level of excitement to the city, and their quarterback is slowly becoming the face of the NFL.
The Raiders will spend the next few weeks assembling a team that will try to live up to the hype that has been surrounding them this off-season. With key additions on both sides of the ball, it will be interesting to see how the new Raider players will fit into what is considered, by many, to be a championship caliber roster.
Here are a few of the top storylines following the Raiders into training camp, the results of which will have a huge impact on this team and their quest for their fourth Lombardi trophy.
What Can Be Expected from Marshawn Lynch?
The signing of veteran running back, Marshawn Lynch, was one of the biggest moves in the NFL this off-season. Lynch will assume the lead back duties and fill the hole left by former power back, Latavius Murray.
While this arrangement looks good on paper, there is much to be seen from the 31-year-old Lynch. Videos surfaced on Twitter of the running back moving like the Marshawn of old, running with speed and agility. The question is: can he do it for a full season?
Lucky for the Raiders, he won’t have to. Second-year men, Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington will help shoulder the load. And with rookie Elijah Hood chomping at the bit, head coach Jack Del Rio will have the luxury of resting his new bell cow when needed.
At the conclusion of the 2017 preseason, the Oakland front office, as well as the entire Raider Nation, should have a good idea of what Marshawn Lynch has left, and what role he will play going forward.
Will Cordarrelle Patterson Win The Third Receiver Spot?
Taking a page out of former owner Al Davis’ book, Raider General Manager, Reggie McKenzie, went out and got a speedy receiver with the ability to stretch defenses and open up the deep pass. Patterson, however, has been sub-par as a receiver since entering the league in 2013.
As an All-Pro kick returner, Cordarrelle Patterson has the speed and vision to play at a high level. Racking up over 4,000 return yards and five touchdowns in four years, he enters camp as the favorite to take the third receiver spot from incumbent starter, Seth Roberts.
Working mostly out of three and four wide sets, the Oakland Raiders have found success as a pass first team. The addition of Patterson will help to improve the deep game and give Derek Carr another weapon to work with.
If Patterson can be the receiver Oakland hopes he can be, Carr could be throwing to three first-round picks (Cooper 2015, Patterson 2013, and Crabtree 2009) in an offense that may be one of the best in NFL.
How Will Obi Melifonwu Adjust To Playing a Linebacker/Safety Hybrid Position?
Newly inked safety, Obi Melifonwu, is arguably one of the most important additions the Oakland Raiders made this off-season.
Defensively, the Raiders have a lot of work ahead of them if they want to remain contenders in the AFC West. Their secondary has been bad for years, and with unanswered questions at the inside linebacker spot, Defensive Coordinator, Ken Norton Jr., has his work cut out for him.
Melifonwu, with his physical size and athletic ability, may be the answer to both of these problems. Standing 6’4″ and weighing 224 lbs., he moves well and will help in defending big receivers like Chiefs tight end, Travis Kelce.
If the young Connecticut product can adjust to his new role, the Raider defense will be one step closer to handling the tight end position in a tough AFC West.
Fans will get plenty of opportunities to watch the rookie this preseason, and if the hybrid experiment works, Raider Nation can count on seeing him for many years to come.