The start of the 2021 NFL regular season is nearly here. All 32 teams are currently preparing for their last few preseason games and the subsequent challenging roster cutdowns. Of those 32 teams, few have been more discredited and discounted more than the Las Vegas Raiders. The Raiders have been trending upwards since the arrival of Jon Gruden, but are still constantly underestimated year to year. As of this moment, most sports betting websites predict the Raiders to finish near the bottom of the league. This ridiculous notion will prove to be false by season’s end. The Raiders will make the playoffs this year. Here are the reasons why:
Reasons Why the Las Vegas Raiders Will Make the Playoffs
Arrival of Gus Bradley
The biggest off-season acquisition was not a player, but a defensive coordinator. After flaming out as a head coach with the Atlanta Falcons, Gus Bradley is in Oakland with something to prove. Less than a decade ago Bradley, along with Pete Carroll, helped create the Legion of Boom in Seattle. He now looks to do the same thing in Las Vegas with a young secondary that is itching to take the next step. With all the high draft picks invested into the secondary, it is no wonder why Bradley took this job.
A high-ceiling secondary is not all that the Raiders have to offer on defense. Yannick Ngakoue and Maxx Crosby have the potential to be the Raiders first simultaneous 10+ sack players since 2006. The last Raiders to accomplish this feat were Warren Sapp and Derrick Burgess. Mix in the veteran experience of guys like Gerald McCoy and Cory Littleton, and the Raiders have the makings of a top-tier defense for the first time in two decades. Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert may have something else to say about that though. Thankfully, the Raiders get to play the lowly Denver Broncos twice a year.
2021 Draft Class
Mike Mayock has drawn a lot of criticism over his last few draft classes, and understandably so. Mayock has frequently shown that his draft board drastically differs from media pundits like Mel Kiper and Todd McShay. This has led to a lot of eye rolling from casual consumers throughout all fan bases. Yet, this most recent draft class has the makings of something special.
The Raiders essentially stole Trevon Moehrig in the second round, but it all starts with first-round pick Alex Leatherwood. Many people scoffed at the selection of Leatherwood as players like Christian Darrisaw and Tevin Jenkins were still on the board. Fast-forward to today where Leatherwood has looked dominant throughout the entirety of training camp and joint team practices. Meanwhile, both Darrisaw and Jenkins have been riddled with injuries since being drafted last April. Darrisaw just had groin surgery, and the Minnesota Vikings reportedly believe he will not be ready for the start of the season. Jenkins just had back surgery which has put his entire rookie season in jeopardy. Even though it is still early, that Leatherwood pick is looking better and better by the day. He is poised to help bulldoze a path for the Raiders to run right into the playoffs this winter.
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