Dec 15, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders wide receiver Rod Streater (80) runs with the ball after catching a pass against the Kansas City Chiefs in the first quarter at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland Raiders: 3 Players Who Need To Step Up Big Time

After another disappointing season in 2013, the Oakland Raiders are hoping some of the core players start to step up their game in 2014. With more than $60 million in cap space and a full complement of draft picks, the Silver and Black are all but ensured of another tumultuous off-season. Last Season saw as many as 10 new starters on defense. This season the whole team may see more turnover as the organization tries to increase the overall talent level. Lets examine three players who need to take their game to the next level:

1. Rod Streater, WR

Streater entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Temple in 2012. In the previous two seasons, Streater has shown that he is an NFL level talent. He followed a decent rookie campaign in which he had 39 catches for 584 yards, with a 2013 season in which he compiled 60 receptions and 888 yards. At his current pace, Streater should reach the 1,000-yard mark easily next season.

Known in locker room as a hard worker and a good character guy, Streater figures to terrorize defenses for years to come. An honor roll student in the classroom and an athletic freak on the gridiron, the former Temple Owl has all the measurables to succeed in Oakland.

Streater shows extremely good hands and is an asset in run blocking, but his sub 4.4 40-time means he is a home run hitter on any given play. Perhaps the scariest part is that he played well with unreliable signal callers under center.

2. Tyvon Branch, S

With Darren McFadden off the books and before the Raiders sign any big free agents, the highest paid player on the roster is strong safety Tyvon Branch. After a season that saw him being placed on injured reserve, Branch figures to come back strong. The leg injury against the Jacksonville Jaguars that ended his season appeared to be minor at the time, but it shut him down at every comeback attempt.

Branch is a prototypical modern day safety that can cover the seams and be an enforcer in the tackle box. His versatility was greatly missed in the secondary where backup Brandian Ross couldn’t hold his own. The envisioned pair of Charles Woodson and Branch at safety lasted less than two games. A rejuvenated and hungry Branch would be a great help to the ailing Raider secondary.

3. D.J. Hayden, CB

Hayden had about as horrible a 12-month span as you could as a football player. After suffering what could have been a fatal accident in practice in college, the former Houston product finished his first NFL season on injured reserve. After a game against the Philadelphia Eagles in which he gave up three touchdowns, Hayden went down for the season with a Sports Hernia.

In my opinion, Hayden will be a very good player in the pros even though many fans have already classified him as a bust. I love the tenacity with which he plays and I believe the rest of his game will eventually develop, but he does have to win over a lot of fans’ respect. In the span of next season, I see him growing close to the potential scouts forecast before the last draft.

For the Silver and Black to finally turn the corner, every player on the roster will have to play their part. It is vital that the aforementioned three players live up to their potential. 2014 may be another losing season for the Raiders, but the light is finally visible at the end of the tunnel.

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Tags: Oakland Raiders

  • Kevin Lurker

    Hayden will be fine. Most in the Nation will enjoy his 2nd year. These are all core players!

  • chucka1122

    These guys have to step up!!! Hayden especially, I was really hoping the Raiders would go d-line, and Hayden has not proved me wrong yet. The Raiders got nothing out of him or the 2nd round pick Watson either. For the Raiders to improve, they need these players to give them something, huge disappointment last year!!!

  • George McHugh

    Hayden tenacious? Maybe if you consider chasing the play after being lost at the snap tenacious. Injuries aside, DJ was lost and usually out of position at every snap. HE is easily beaten and then can be seen struggling to chase the play. He was usually the opposing QB’s target on 3rd & long when on the field and usually gave up the 1st.

    Hayden has also shown repeatedly that he is an atrocious tackler. He often misses entirely in the open field and needs help to bring a runner down. These are not injury related deficiencies. They are fundamental flaws. He gets burned nearly every time he is targeted. Like Relondo McClain, when he is on the field a big play against the D is only a snap or two away. Keep him off the field.

    • Joey

      Umm are play and record was a lot better when DJ was not injured. He got hurt and we soon enliminated our chances of playoff hopes

      • netraider

        Did you actually watch his play? He was an easy target for opposing QBs to pick up a sure first down. He was horrible.

        • Ecade

          I can tell you never played the game you seem to think its easy to come in as a Rookie and Play corner , it takes time he will be a very good player for the Raiders . People who have never competed in their life are so quick to call players bust ..

          • netraider

            You know so much about me. Amazing.

            I have been involved with the game for more than 30 years. I know what I saw when he was on the field.

            CB requires a tough transition to succeed at this level. To succeed a player need the basic instincts and skills that can be coached. DJ showed an appalling lack of basic skills and was a liability when on the field. He performed noticeably worse than other in his position (rookies) and CBs behind him of the depth chart.

            How do you explain his inability to tackle in space?

            Anyway, this debate is meaningless. The season will provide the answer. I would love to see him succeed, but planning on it is wishful thinking. Be prepared for the worst and hope for the best.

            Go Raiders

          • Ecade

            You been around the game I actually played the game in D1 and NFL and DJ will be a very good player , he had a rough year last season with no training camp and he had a few injuries , just sit back and watch this guy will be a solid corner this year and a Pro bowl player in a few years ..

  • George McHugh

    Seriously. Watch the 2013 tape on DJ Hayden. He is beaten nearly every time he is targeted. It did not take long for opposing QBs to see him as the weak link. When he was on the field his play was horrible.

    • Ecade

      One season he will bounce back after a full training camp , go back and Watch Asomugha Rookie season he was burned on every play also and he turned out to be a Pro Bowl player corner is the hardest Position to play it takes a little time ..

      • netraider

        We’ll see soon enough.

  • James Whitener

    “Tenacity” – I checked the definition and one of the entries wasn’t insisting on getting burned on every single play.

    He’ll be gone in 2 years, hopefully this year.

    • Ecade

      I see you know nothing about Football you will eat crow , Hayden will have a very good year ..

  • Eric Kench

    The fact that D.J. Hayden hit the weight room this offseason is an indication that he won’t be a bust if he can help it. I was very concerned about his psychological state after a near death experience on the practice field. But being a weightlifter myself I can tell you that it does wonders for your confidence and self assurance. He’ll bounce back.

  • B Christopher

    The guys you list up here could be superstar pro bowl players on any other roster. It is difficult to be an outstanding player on a subpar team. The Raiders front office has given all of these guys, McFadden included, a full compliment of talent to play with. When you surround great players with talent, EVERYONE’S TALENT RISES HIGHER. When a great talent only had to focus on their specific piece of the puzzle, they can and will do a better job. I whole-heartedly expect the Raiders to lead the lead in multiple defensive categories over the next few years. We have an extremely talented group of defenders assembled, and smart, capable, young, enthusiastic coaches to coach them up. Both Allen & Tarver have their guys now.
    Expect greatness! JUST WIN BABY!