Have Raiders upgraded from any ‘worst of the worst’ starters from 2022?

We knew the Raiders were bad last season. How bad? Well, four starters named ‘worst of the worst’ bad.

Back in February, Football Outsiders put together their list of the worst at every position group in the NFL and the Raiders were quite well represented on that list.

That begs the question as to whether or not the Raiders have either moved on or upgraded from any of those starters. Well, let’s take a look.

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Alex Bars was named the worst double-digit starting interior lineman in the NFL, noting he had an astounding 38 blown blocks last season.

“He really shouldn’t be a starter; he lacks the quickness and the timing you would like from an every-game starter. But lacking other options, the Raiders gave him 14 starts and, well, there were moments where he was just completely blown off the field. While he generally improved over the course of the year, he still hadn’t reached competent starter levels by the end; Chris Jones blew him away to the tune of eight pressures and a pair of sacks in Week 18. You can live with Bars as a spot starter or a bench guy, but he was the worst lineman to start double-digit games in 2022.”

Bars was re-signed this offseason, but the team has to be hoping that one of the other linemen as competition at right guard can outplay him to take the job. Competitors include recent signing Greg Van Roten, former Broncos practice squad signee Netane Muti and undrafted rookie McClendon Curtis.

Moving across the line, the Raiders have plenty more issues. Namely with their top free agent signings of last offseason. Two made the list too as a “big free-agent signing, little production.” First up was DT Bilal Nichols who signed a two-year, $11 million deal and was a complete non-factor last season.


“Nichols was brought in to Las Vegas to provide some semblance of an interior pass rush, which never materialized—just 1.5 sacks and 18 hurries on the year. That might be OK if Nichols was solid against the run, but Nichols didn’t provide much of an impact there either, routinely getting pushed around or creating a seam and a running lane. Honestly, the best way to word Nichols’ impact on the 2022 season is “non-existent”; not exactly what Las Vegas was hoping for from their second-biggest free agent acquisition of the year. Hey, how did that biggest acquisition work out again?”

That biggest acquisition was Chandler Jones who signed a three-year, $17 million deal and for much of the season was basically invisible.

“One three-sack game against the Chargers in December saved Jones’ year from being a complete bust, but 4.5 sacks is still the lowest sack total for Jones in a year he played more than five games, and his 15 quarterback hits are the fewest since he left New England in 2015. Jones had a pressure rate of just 10.3%, which was 92nd out of 270 players with at least 100 pass-rushers, per SIS charting. There were some potential warning signs from 2021 in Arizona, in retrospect—his hurry rate had fallen dramatically, and his pressure rate had dipped too, even if the sacks were still there—but for Jones not even to hit five sacks? For Jones to have 12 games where he didn’t reach the quarterback once? Almost unthinkable. . . He has $16 million in guaranteed money next season, so the Raiders are stuck hoping that the 33-year-old can figure out a way to make things work next year.”

Yeah, the Raiders are stuck with Jones for this season. Best case scenario is rookie top pick Tyree Wilson can rotate in and keep Jones fresh, hopefully getting the most out of him.


As for Nichols, the Raiders are seemingly hoping for the emergence of one of the DT’s they have drafted the past two years. The highest drafted being Byron Young who was selected at pick 70 in the third round this year. The other is Matthew Butler who was selected in the fifth round of the 2021 draft.

The wild card here could be former Chargers first round pick Jerry Tillery who was claimed off waivers midway through last season, but didn’t do much outside of the one game against his former team.

And finally, there’s the safety spot where Tre’von Moehrig made an appearance. After a decent rookie season in 2021, Moehrig fell off a cliff in his second season.

“Moehrig looked lost in the Raiders’ secondary, over-thinking and reacting late. Moehrig allowed a 137.5 passer rating in coverage and was possibly just asked to do too much. He was going to be the centerpiece of Patrick Graham’s secondary; instead, he constantly found himself out of position or just making the wrong decision.”


It would be surprising if the Raiders were to give up on Moehrig after a down season. The Jim Thorpe Award winner was the team’s pick at 43rd overall in the 2020 draft. Granted that was the previous coaching staff, but you’d have to think they will give him at least part of this season to see if he can step up.

The team added Marcus Epps to start at the strong safety spot. They also signed Jaquan Johnson, drafted Christopher Smith II in the fifth round, and have 2022 undrafted safety Isaiah Pola-Mao who showed some potential as a rookie last season.

So, the answer is they have not moved on from any of these starters. They brought in competition at each position, but no clear upgrades. So, in each case they’re either they’re hoping for someone else to step up or for that player to improve.

Story originally appeared on Raiders Wire