The Oakland Raiders suffered some bitter defeats late in the 2011 NFL season and missed their goal of an AFC West title and a playoff berth. There were many factors that led to this unceremonious demise: Defensive meltdowns at the most inopportune times, massive amounts of penalties and injuries to key players.

Since then, new owner Mark Davis has hired a position the Raiders haven’t had in a long time—a general manager. Reggie McKenzie was hired to take over the day-to-day football operations of the team. With this hire comes a lot of speculation.

After firing head coach Hue Jackson, many in Raider Nation wonder if any player or coach is immune to this “house cleaning.” Is Carson Palmer the quarterback for the foreseeable future? Will Tyvon Branch and Michael Bush be allowed to leave via free agency? And most of all, who will coach the team in 2012?

None of these questions will be answered before McKenzie is ready to divulge his plan. He’s interviewed a lot of candidates, but has yet to hire anyone to replace Jackson.

With all of this set aside, what can Oakland do to improve the team enough to compete at a high level in the future? What are the positions of need? Without draft picks and sitting $7 million over the salary cap, how can McKenzie get the players the Raiders need?

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