In Hindsight, Raiders' 2017 Offseason Was a Problem

Draft and free-agent classes didn't produce as expected and the parting with offensive coordinator Musgrave proved fatal to Oakland's chances

At the time, the Raiders’ draft class of 2017 looked pretty good. Oakland needed help in its secondary, so its No. 1 pick of cornerback Gareon Conley and No. 2 pick of safety Obi Melifonwu appeared on the money.

As we know now, however, neither pick helped a team that tumbled from 12-4 in 2016 to 6-10 in 2017.

Now, ESPN’s Mike Sando has re-graded the offseasons of every team from before the 2017 season and given the Raiders a D for their most recent draft and moves in free agency, tied for worst in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos. Before the 2017 season, Sando had given the Raiders a B-minus for their offseason decisions.

It turned out the most damaging part of the Raiders’ offseason was cutting ties with offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. Under his successor, Todd Downing, the offense was consistently much worse.

Wrote Sando: “The Raiders’ offseason included firing offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and using a first-round pick on cornerback Gareon Conley, who was facing a rape allegation (a grand jury declined to bring charges just as training camps were opening). Shin troubles limited Conley to two games, making his rookie season a wash. Second-round safety Obi Melifonwu also had trouble staying on the field, and by Thanksgiving, the Raiders had a new defensive coordinator. They finished last in Total QBR allowed.” (QBR is ESPN’s version of quarterback rating.)

Levi Damien of SB Nation noted that he, too, probably had been too optimistic in his initial grades for the Raiders’ offseason moves before the 2017 season. He had given the Raiders a B-minus for their actions in free agency and a B for the draft.

“That too may have been a bit generous,” wrote Damien. “Mainly because I let them off too easily for not signing anyone on the defensive side of the ball in free agency. My grades, being that they focused specifically on free agency and the draft, didn’t factor in coaching.”

Other Raiders draft picks included defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes in the third round, who did play regularly. But fourth-round pick David Sharpe (offensive tackle), linebacker Marquel Lee, safety Shalom Luani, offensive tackle Jylan Ware, running back Elijah Hood and defensive tackle Treyvon Hester made no or little impact.

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