PHOENIX -– During last year’s NFL owners meetings, Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie and then head coach Dennis Allen were routinely asked to identify their franchise foundation pieces.
No matter how many times it was asked, the inquiry was met with hesitation. Tough to blame them. It’s hard to respond without an answer.
They typically sauntered through the roster, dropping Mychal Rivera and Sio Moore when grasping at straws.
That was before last year’s NFL draft, before the 2013 class came into its own.
McKenzie and new head coach Jack Del Rio won’t have a tough time with that answer this week. They’ll certainly be asked at the NFL owners meetings, which runs though Wednesday at the Arizona Biltmore hotel.
They’ll have an answer this go-round. They have a quarterback in Derek Carr, a pass rusher in Khalil Mack and quite a few young contributors. Nearly half their projected starting lineup has three years experience or less, and just seven are over 27.
The Raiders still have holes to fill, some with talent they couldn’t reel in during free agency. Others, like a right guard and a receiver, they plan to draft. They need an influx to compete next season, but there is optimism about the franchise’s future with groundwork pre-laid.
Let’s take a look at young players the Raiders are counting on to contribute next season.
Major contributors with 3 years experience or less:
QB Derek Carr
RB Latavius Murray
RB Trent Richardson
WR Rod Streater
OG Gabe Jackson
TE Mychal Rivera
DT Justin Ellis
SLB Khalil Mack
WLB Sio Moore
CB DJ Hayden
CB TJ Carrie
CB Keith McGill
P Marquette King