Oakland Raiders

3 Raiders primed to decline in 2017

TAMPA FL, - OCTOBER 30: Oakland Raiders strong safety Karl Joseph (42) during the NFL game between the Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on October 30, 2016 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire)
Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire

Until Christmas Eve when quarterback Derek Carr broke his leg, the Oakland Raiders were experiencing a magical season. They entered the final week of the regular season 12-3 and with a win would have locked up the No. 2 seed in the AFC. As it was, though, Oakland made its first playoff appearance since 2002.

It took the Raiders 14 years to build into a winner again. Fans who follow this team could see the gradual turnaround, but still, any squad that goes from seven to 12 wins in the span of one offseason is going to be subject to doubt.

Are the Raiders real contenders again or will 2016 prove to be an aberration?

If yours truly had to guess, it will be the former, but here are three Raiders players who could experience a decline in play during the 2017:

Jared Cook, TE

Cook had a good single season with the Green Bay Packers, and at his price, he was fantastic value for the Raiders, but it might still be unrealistic to expect the same type of season from the veteran tight end as he had last year.

The first reason is that Aaron Rodgers will no longer be throwing him passes. While Carr is an up-and-coming signal caller, he’s not yet at Rodgers’ level. Oakland had trouble involving tight end Clive Walford in the offense last year.

Second, Cook posted a career-best 79.0 player grade at Pro Football Focus in 2016. At age 30 he had a “career year” — not a “breakout year”, and there’s definitely a difference. In 2015, he finished with a career-worst 52.6 player grade at PFF.

Cook could certainly still be useful, but it wouldn’t at all be a surprise to see him regress slightly in all facets of his game.

Donald Penn, LT

Like many of Oakland’s players, Penn veteran was a rock last fall, but there are still concerns. Penn has been very consistent, posting strong player grades at PFF each of the last three years. In 2016, he reached his peak of 87.3, his best grade since 2008. Penn also made the Pro Bowl for the first time since 2010.

But now at 34, it’s hard to imagine him continuing to improve as he has each of the past three years. Normally at his age, offensive linemen begin to decline slightly. Penn also finished the year injured, missing the Wild Card game against Houston.

Penn hasn’t missed a single regular-season game in his 10-year career, but injuries are more common as one gets older. He can still be very good, but another All-Pro type season is wishful thinking.

Karl Joseph, SS

Honestly, it’s hard to pick a third Oakland guy for this category. The Raiders simply don’t have many potential one-hit wonders on their roster, and they actually possess quite a few players, such as the linebacker core, that can’t play much worse, making a decline almost impossible.

So for my third player, I went with the rookie safety. Joseph was solid during his first year, posting 60 total tackles, six passes defended and an interception in 12 games. He earned a player grade of 77.5 at PFF.

It will be interesting to see, though, how he continues to develop in his second year. Joseph missed four games because of a toe injury. A knee ailment also kept him from finishing his senior season at West Virginia in 2015.

If health continues to be an issue, Joseph will have trouble improving and could even see a slight decline.




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  1. Scott Thompson

    May 20, 2017 at 9:39 am

    Why chose Joseph when the guy who plays next to him is the obvious choice? Reggie Nelson is getting up there at a position which requires speed and he already began to show last year that he’s lost a step. Nelson will be very lucky to hold his starting job for the entire season, especially with a physical freak drafted in the 2nd round champing at the bit to replace him.


    May 19, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    I would have chosen Reggie Nelson as the guy that falls the most.

  3. David Kemp

    May 19, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    This is to Dave Holcomb.
    It is quite obvious you don’t know the RAIDERS.. If you recall linemen last for some time seeing that they take good care of themselves like what Penn is doing.. Penn right now reminds me of a Jackie Slater or Lincoln Kennedy… And as for you seeing Joseph on the decline, that is just stupid on your part. He is only in his second year and is learning a lot under Woodson who happen to be a HOFer… Cook is just 30 and his stats from the playoffs of last year go into identical stats that Gronk gets… Now here is someone that may be on the decline Sean Smith. He got burned day one and although he did pick things up on and off during the season, with the price he costs nobody will want him… Here is hoping he improves.
    Second is Seabass.. Sorry pops I have to say what is true. Seabees has an awful % rate.. Granted he has set the record for the most 50+ yard FG.. It is that time .. And third would be Howard Austin.. His rating sucks and his cost is off the charts.. Sharpe should take over from here…. So Dave this is to you do your study before you post garbage..

  4. Doug

    May 19, 2017 at 11:24 am

    I agree this a terrible article, I think its time for this guy to find a new job

    • Dave Holcomb

      Dave Holcomb

      May 19, 2017 at 1:26 pm

      Hey Doug,

      I’ve done so well here at FanRag, I actually will be starting a new editor job on June 1. Thanks for your concern. Btw, you used the wrong it’s.

      Your friend.

      – Dave

  5. X-raiderd1

    May 19, 2017 at 10:45 am

    You can’t tell it’s the off-season when stupid stories like this come out? Dave Holcomb your really reaching here, this article is garbage and you know it. Justwinbaby!

  6. Julio Amezcua

    May 19, 2017 at 10:32 am

    Worthless article! Joseph?? My two year old could say the same about Penn,Cook!!

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