The Seahawks head into their final preseason game on Thursday so I traded scouting reports with SBNation's Raiders blog, Silver and Black Pride, and got some great nuggets from lead writer Levi Damien. Here's what Levi had to say about the state of affairs in Oakland - huge thanks to him for getting me some in-depth answers.
My questions in bold, Levi's answers follow.
DK: Obviously the big story in Oakland is that Terrelle Pryor may have put himself in a position to grab the starting job at QB over Matt Flynn. How has Pryor looked to you and if you were choosing, which QB would you go with?
Pryor has look considerably better than he had last season. He hired several quarterback coaches this off-season to work on his mechanics and his throws looks night and day to what they did at the end of last season when they constantly fluttered.
The questions which remain now are his ability to hang in the pocket and go through his reads. He still has a tendency to lock onto receivers and when that receiver can't break open, flee the pocket and improvise. That worked against the Bears' second team defense and Pryor had a big game, but as we all know, this is a pass first league and if it's not a read-option play, going through reads and progressions is key.
I am still uncertain who I would go with. I have said from the beginning that the coaches had Matt Flynn pegged as the starter and were willing to ride out his early struggles and give him a chance because Reggie McKenzie vouches for him from his time in Green Bay. That still sounds like the plan, but another good performance by Pryor Thursday could give Flynn a very short leash.
They have already said Pryor is earning more and more time in the offense with his play. They want to make sure he is ready before they roll him out as the starter.
What positional group or groups are strongest for the Raiders? Which group looks to be the weakest?
The linebackers and secondary look the strongest and deepest. You wouldn't have known it by how the defense played last week against Chicago, but much of that has to do with the defensive line issues. The Raiders have no pass rush to speak of and the secondary is struggling because of it. They can't cover forever and know they won't get any help from a pass rush.
In the Saints game there was a play in which Drew Brees had 12 seconds to throw. He eventually found a receiver for a touchdown. Aside from the defensive line, the offensive line is also quite weak with the injury to Jared Veldheer and the uncertainty at the guard positions. You can throw in the tight ends as well. No telling where this team will get help at tight end.
How has the 2013 Draft class fared thus far in the preseason - will there be any major contributors in their first season?
The team's first round pick, D.J. Hayden has looked very good. He was wearing a red non-contact jersey through most of camp but even before that, he looked good. He made his first start last week against the Bears and after a slow start against Brandon Marshall, he had a nice pass break-up and then didn't give up any catches after that. Third round pick, Sio Moore, has all the intangibles you want from a player. He has been pegged as the team's starting weak side linebacker since day one and hasn't looked back.
On the negative side, Tyler Wilson has played so poorly he hasn't seen the field in preseason and looks to be in danger of being cut in favor of undrafted free agent rookie, Matt McGloin. Wilson will play in this game and I expect he will be quite nervous knowing his job may be on the line with every pass. The team likes Menelik Watson but he was injured all of camp, returning on the last day. The team drafted him as a right tackle but he will be starting at left tackle against the Seahawks -- the first time he has EVER played that position (see: Offensive line as weak area).
Do you expect that the Raiders will play starters deep into this game?
A lot of the "starters" will play quite a bit. I used quotation marks because there are a few players who are filling in this week and aren't really the starters. This team has a lot of young players who need to see extra time so they will stay out on the field for a while. I would think some of the more veteran starters will either not play in this game at all or only see a series or two with the rest of them playing the entire first half.
What's your overall outlook for Oakland this year? Is it a rebuilding year? Do you think they can challenge in the AFC West?
It is indeed another rebuilding year. They won't be challenging in the AFC West this season. They're just trying to improve from last season and discover a few more good young players to keep as the foundation for the future.
Thanks again to Levi for the scouting report. Make sure to head over to Silver and Black Pride to learn more about the Raiders in anticipation for Thursday's game.