So many different things can happen for the Oakland Raiders in 2014. Here are some bold predictions to explore the possibilities.
Derek Carr will replace Matt Schaub twice for injury reasons
Many are trying to make out a quarterback controversy between veteran Matt Schaub and rookie Derek Carr but the Raiders have made it clear from the beginning that Schaub is starting. However, fans will still see Carr on the field in 2014, but in not one but two relief appearances for the 32-year old who has a history of injuries dating back to his days in Houston.
Khalil Mack leads the team in sacks and is only one to crack double digits
Expectations should always be high for a first round NFL draft pick and that hasn’t changed for linebacker Khalil Mack. The Oakland Raiders coaches believe he will start right away and become a force for their rebuilding pass rush. This Mack will accomplish as a rookie. Not only will he collect double digit sacks, he will end the season as team leader in that category, even over veterans Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley.
Miles Burris and Sio Moore split time at weak side linebacker
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the Raiders off-season is the roster battle developing at weak side linebacker. Initially most assumed that second-year man Sio Moore would overtake that spot as Khalil Mack moved to the strong side. However, the transition was less than smooth, and in the midst of his struggles, Moore watched as forgotten man and former starter Miles Burris burst onto the scene. It’s unclear yet who has the advantage for the starting job, but many believe Burris has a really good chance to emerge on top. At the same time, that doesn’t mean Moore will be bench. If the competition goes that way, expect Oakland to alternate the two during games, specifically with Moore coming in as an extra pass rusher.
D.J. Hayden plays fewer games than in 2013 but records more INTs
Oakland Raiders fans are growing increasingly pessimistic about 2013 first round pick D.J. Hayden. The talented corner from Houston has a world of ability, but a fragile body that has betrayed him a number of times already. He played in only eight games last season and didn’t look too effective when he did. Fans should expect the hard times to continue. Hayden will miss even more games in 2014, but still tantalize them with his play by recording more interceptions.
Latavius Murray is the starter at running back by seasons’ end
Similar problems have bedeviled the Raiders at running back, specifically with Darren McFadden. He, along with the once-great but equally ailing Maurice Jones-Drew are expected to carry the Oakland ground attack throughout the season. Don’t count on that happening. In fact, it will be second-year man Latavius Murray who emerged in the second half of the season to become the starter, and fans will learn to love him.