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Five Questions As The Oakland Raiders Head Into The Offseason


The season is over for the Oakland Raiders – as well as for 27 other teams – and as such, it's time to look ahead to the offseason.

Even though the Silver and Black went 12-4 in 2016, ending their 14-year playoff drought in the process, there are a plethora of questions surrounding Head Coach Jack Del Rio's team as the group prepares for 2017.

Now, with a few weeks before Super Bowl LI kicks off in Houston, let's take a look at some of those questions.

1. Will Derek Carr be ready for the Offseason Workout Program?

It's no secret that the tone and tenor, as well as the on-field play of the Raiders, changed in the days after Derek Carr broke his fibula against the Indianapolis Colts.

Although the Raiders eventually did beat the Colts, that Week 16 game was the last time the Silver and Black would taste victory in 2016, as they lost their regular season finale to the Denver Broncos, and then fell to the Houston Texans in the Wild Card round of the playoffs the following week.

Plain and simple, the Raiders looked like a different team with No. 4 under center, and understandably so; before his season was cut short, Carr was in the midst of a potential MVP season, and that type of production is hard to replicate.

The Raiders starting quarterback addressed the media following the loss to the Texans, and while he wouldn't put a firm timeline on his return to football action, he did give every indication that his recovery was on schedule.

The Raiders will likely begin their Offseason Workout Program in late April, so keep an eye on "DC" to see how much he's able to participate.

2. Where will the Raiders go at No. 24?

As a result of their 12-4 record in 2016, the Raiders will be selecting No. 24 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft, the latest the Raiders have picked in the first round since 2003.

Thankfully for General Manager Reggie McKenzie, the Raiders have a franchise quarterback, a dominant edge rusher, and a strong nucleus of young players already wearing Silver and Black, so without any glaring weaknesses on the roster, it'll be interesting to see what he elects to do at No. 24.

That perceived flexibility in the latter part of the first round is why there are a plethora of players being linked to the Raiders at No. 24 in recent mock drafts, from Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham to Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore.

Between now and the first day of the Draft, analysts' assessments and predictions will no doubt change, but I, along with the rest of Raider Nation, will be interested to see what the Silver and Black do with the No. 24 overall pick.

3. Who will the team add in free agency?

It's become one of the recipes for success in the NFL in recent years; build through the draft, and supplement through free agency, and it's a recipe that Reggie McKenzie has executed nearly to perfection as of late.

Over the past two seasons in particular, the Raiders general manager has done a good job of supplementing the talent already on the roster by finding valuable pieces to add via free agency; look no further than Bruce Irvin, Reggie Nelson, Kelechi Osemele, and Rodney Hudson for evidence of that.

While the Silver and Black likely won't be big spenders in free agency this offseason, McKenzie will assuredly scour the NFL landscape and bring in some players who he believes can help the Raiders on game day.

Who will those players be? Only time will tell, but free agency does open up March 9.

4. Will things look any different with Todd Downing as offensive coordinator?

After two seasons as the Raiders quarterbacks coach, Todd Downing got a promotion this offseason, and will enter 2017 as the team's offensive coordinator, taking over for Bill Musgrave who is now the quarterbacks coach for the Denver Broncos.

In his first two seasons on the Raiders coaching staff, Downing has been influential in the development of Derek Carr, and common knowledge would suggest that the offense won't change too much with Downing at the helm.

However, the Raiders new offensive coordinator will certainly look to add some wrinkles of his own into the game plan, and it'll be interesting to see how Downing takes an offense that finished in the Top 10 in the NFL and puts his own spin on what Derek Carr and Co., do in 2017.

While it remains to be seen when Downing will get No. 4 back into the fold at full strength, make sure you keep an eye on the Raiders offense in the next few months.

5. How will the team build off its first playoff appearance since 2002?

The Silver and Black made it back to the playoffs in 2016, for the first time since 2002.

Granted, the team's return to the postseason didn't end quite like it would have liked, but the fact remains, the Raiders took a step forward in 2016, a big one.

After being shut out of the postseason tournament for 14 years, Head Coach Jack Del Rio got his squad back into the dance in 2016, officially putting the Raiders back on the map in the process.

With a healthy Derek Carr back in the saddle come 2017, the Raiders will be a trendy pick to return to the postseason, but as Coach Del Rio likes to say, the foundation of any team is built in the offseason.

That being said, I'll be excited to see how the team looks when they report back to work for the Offseason Workout Program.

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