Oakland Raiders: Which Rookies Will Have The Biggest Impact in 2013?


September 29, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles wide receiver Rashad Greene (80) is congratulated by offensive linesman Menelik Watson (71) after they scored a touchdown against the South Florida Bulls during the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Before the 2013 NFL Draft began, Oakland Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie had plenty of needs to fill. A team desperate for a culture change, McKenzie knew he had to hit on every pick. Whether it was reaching for first-round pick cornerback D.J. Hayden or drafting the best player available in linebacker Sio Moore, the Raiders came away with some very intriguing prospects.

So with the Oakland Raiders now stocked with 10 draft picks from the 2013 NFL Draft, which players will have the biggest impact?

I have identified two rookies who I feel will have the biggest impact in 2013. And although the players may surprise you, I believe they will not only “wow” the Raider Nation but be a solid contributor for the Silver and Black for years to come.

Conventional wisdom tells us to go with the high-profile first-round pick when predicting the rookie who will have the biggest impact. However, I believe it’s their second-round pick that will turn some heads.

Yes, I am talking about offensive tackle Menelik Watson. A player that was sky-rocketing up draft boards, Watson is a behemoth of a tackle. At 6-foot-5, 315 pounds, Watson has the big bodied frame to be a very productive tackle in the NFL. A former basketball star, Watson has the agility and athleticism to stay with speed-rushers, while possessing the frame to hold off a bull-rush. The only knock on Watson is his age, as he will turn 25 years-old in his first season. Watson should push tackles Khalif Barnes and Alex Barron, as I expect him to win out the right tackle position opposite of Jared Veldheer.

May 11, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders linebacker Sio Moore (55) runs a drill during rookie minicamp at the Raiders team headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Another rookie poised to have an impact rookie season is third-round pick linebacker Sio Moore. A tackling machine, Moore will be a perfect fit along with outside linebacker Miles Burris. Two hard-nosed players, they will quickly form one of the best young linebacker tandems in the NFL.

A heady player, Moore is as disciplined as they come as he rarely misses a gap assignment. In addition to his smart play, Moore has a non-stop motor to play sideline-to-sideline, a trait that McKenzie covets. Moore should contribute immediately, as I predict him to have a stat line around 75 tackles and 3.5 sacks.

Whether these rookies pan out or not, they clearly have the potential to be great players in this league as McKenzie has the Raider Nation in the right direction.