Expectations aren’t high for the Las Vegas Raiders in 2023. NFL.com has them ranked as the 22nd-best team in the league. That would keep them far out of the playoff race. However, it’s possible that the Raiders are being underrated.
A big reason why they may actually surprise some people is due to wide receiver Davante Adams and defensive end Maxx Crosby. They are both top-five players at their positions. While it takes more than two players to make a team, they are excellent building blocks. Former NFL linebacker A.J. Hawk is higher than most on the Raiders heading into 2023 and a big reason for that is Crosby and Adams. He was recently at the Kentuck Derby where he spent some time with Adams where the star wide receiver had some strong things to say about Crosby, which stuck out to Hawk.
“I listened to Davante talk about Maxx Crosby at the [Kentucky] Derby – somebody asked him about it when I was sitting there with him,” Hawk said on a May 11 episode of the “Pat McAfee Show.” “Davante was like … ‘[Crosby’s] one of the best teammates I’ve ever been around ever in my life,’ and he talked about how ‘he loves every aspect of football, he is obsessed with all of it.'”
Are Raiders Being Underrated?
The Raiders finished with the seventh-worst record in the NFL last season so their being ranked at No. 22 is an improvement. However, is the team really that bad? They had no business only winning six games last season. They had three players get named First-Team All-Pro, and that wasn’t even including Crosby.
Running back Josh Jacobs led the NFL in rushing yards while Adams led the league with 14 touchdown receptions. The biggest reason the Raiders were bad in 2022 was that they couldn’t close out games. They only lost two games by more than one score. They had a chance to win almost every game they played. Have the Raiders done enough this offseason to turn some of those close losses into wins? The team added a quarterback who is more familiar with Josh Mcdaniels’ system in Jimmy Garoppolo and added some interesting pieces in the draft. The defense is still a major concern but the offense should be better this season. While Las Vegas isn’t close to competing for a Super Bowl, they should be in the playoff mix toward the end of the season.
Raiders Can’t Tank
Next year’s draft has some elite quarterback talent. USC’s Caleb Williams is considered one of the best prospects in years and there will be teams that consider tanking for him. Garoppolo isn’t the long-term option at quarterback for the Raiders so they will eventually need to find a young one. However, they have too much good veteran talent to even consider tanking for Williams.
It’s going to take 14 to 18 losses to be in the range to get the quarterback. The Raiders offense will be too good for them to reach those levels. Perhaps if the season goes off the rails early, the team will consider trying to improve their draft position but it’s hard to imagine them picking in the top-five next year.