Mayock: Raiders have 'huge challenge' in AFC West

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Oakland Raiders finished dead last in the AFC West with a 4-12 record in 2018. Since the Raiders last won the division in 2002, the franchise has finished fourth seven of 16 seasons, and better than third one single time.

Speaking at the NFL Scouting Combine, new Raiders general manager Mike Mayock knows his team has a steep hill to climb to pass the Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers, and Kansas City Chiefs.

Mayock pointed out the dynamic playmakers within the division the Raiders must face twice a year. The first-time GM said moving up in the division is the first step in making the Raiders relevant in 2019.

"I think our division from a playmaker perspective, might put more pressure on the defense than any other division in football," Mayock said. "To the point where in my office, the first thing I did when I went in is I had them take all the blinds down and everything else, and I've got an entire wall just of the AFC West. Their rosters, their practice (squads), everything, depth charts, all up on one wall, magnetic names, just to reinforce to me every day the challenges we have."

The Chiefs sport Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill on offense, and playmakers like Dee Ford on defense. The Chargers boast perennial Pro Bowl QB Philip Rivers, Keenan Allen and Melvin Gordon on offense and Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram and Derwin James, et al. on D. The Broncos have Von Miller and Bradley Chubb on D and young playmakers like Phillip Lindsay on offense.

Mayock believes the talent the Raiders will face in the division is the best in the entire NFL.

"You start talking about Mahomes and Kelce and Tyreek Hill. Just the entire division, when you look at the depth charts on both sides of the ball, with their rosters," Mayock said. "We've got a huge challenge ahead of us. I think we probably face some of the best edge rushers in football, on the other side of the ball. You talk about what Kansas City has had. You talk about what the Chargers have. You talk about that monster in Denver. We are very aware of the challenges in our division. We think it might be the most significant in the league."

From a talent perspective, the Raiders are well behind their division rivals. Mayock knows he must help close the gap this offseason if Oakland is going get out of the AFC West cellar.

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