Entering the 2012 season, the Oakland Raiders will run a new offense with some fresh faces and certifiable playmakers. The Raiders have a new head coach in Dennis Allen, who will be looking to finally restore stability to an offense that has lacked it for quite some time now.
But Allen isn't alone; he'll have some pretty decent players to help him accomplish this feat. In addition to new quarterback Carson Palmer, all-star running back Darren McFadden is reportedly ready to go. McFadden was running like a man possessed before he had a season ending injury in week 7 of 2011.
And at center, the Raiders had spent a higher draft pick on former Penn State center, Stefen Wisniewski. The 6'3, 315-pound offensive lineman will be a strong presence as they look to situate the positions to his immediate left and right.
At wide receiver, guys like Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey showed some promise. They've displayed great speed and athletic ability, and if they could get in sync with their quarterback, Palmer, it could yield much stronger results than their 8-8 season in 2011.
The Raiders also have a few wildcards on the roster that could step in and play a role in 2012, big or small. To kick it off, the Raiders recently signed former Cal State Fullerton basketball player, Andre Hardy, to a free agent contract. The idea behind Hardy is that with some luck, he could become the next Antonio Gates - and the Raiders should know what the next Gates would look like since they were mauled by him for years.
This could provide a great safety net for Palmer when he's under pressure and the defense is keyed in on McFadden. With a large frame, he could be a crucial blocking tight end to help out an often struggling offensive line.
Another wildcard the Raiders have in their hand is Terrell Pryor. The former Ohio State star quarterback is still on the Oakland roster, and if used properly, could turn plays for the Raiders in 2012. Whether a package is designed for him or they completely change his position, the Raiders will give careful consideration to what they do with Pryor.
And while a lot of fans might've been frustrated with the loss of Michael Bush to the Chicago Bears; when one door closes, another opens up. McFadden will be the premier back, but a player that can become a decent complement to him is former draft pick Taiwan Jones out of Eastern Washington.
Jones is a flyer and could be used like a Darren Sproles. He's very athletic and has the potential to get big yards after catch as a target coming out of the backfield for Palmer. The Raiders have also added former Carolina Panther running back Mike Goodson, who I expect to step in and compete for the backup job.
With a full offseason to install new plays, get familiar with one another and begin to establish a flowing chemistry, the Oakland Raiders could be a much improved offensive unit in 2012. McFadden is a superstar and he will make Carson Palmer's just that much easier. Palmer was once a franchise quarterback, and can be again.
Palmer needs to gel with his speedster receivers and get their timing down, as well as trust. Lucky for the Raiders who are out a first and second round pick, the wide receiver class is deep in the 2012 NFL Draft. The Raiders can possibly add the missing element to their receiving corps with their first pick, with an underrated big bodied possession receiver in a later round.
Besides the offensive line, the Raiders have some key pieces to make things happen. What will be crucial for them, is if they're finally able to have some consistency. Time will only tell, but the Raiders could surprise a lot of folks in 2012 with a vastly improved offensive attack.