NFL Oakland Raiders

6 Oakland Raiders Facing Make-or-Break Seasons in 2014

6 Raiders Who Must Step Up in 2014

Darren McFadden
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into 2014, the Oakland Raiders themselves are facing a make-or-break season. With the jobs of GM Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen both on the line, it’s imperative for this team to display considerable improvement from 2013. Part of that is having several players step up and be more productive than they have in recent years.

With that in mind, here’s a look at six Raiders players facing make-or-break seasons in 2014.

QB Matt McGloin

Matt McGloin
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

QB Matt McGloin

Matt McGloin
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout a turbulent rookie season, McGloin showed some upside. While he’ll likely never belong in a starting role, he has the potential to develop into a quality backup. With Matt Schaub now in the mix, he’ll have an opportunity to do just that. In 2014, look for McGloin to hone to his abilities as an NFL passer and be a reliable step-in if Schaub falls to injury. If he doesn’t, it might be the end of the road in 2015.

WR Juron Criner

Juron Criner
Getty Images

WR Juron Criner

Juron Criner
Getty Images

When the Raiders spent a 2012 fifth-round pick on Criner, he seemed like a huge steal. He put on a show during rookie training camp, but failed to transition that explosiveness to game days. Injuries marred what should have been an outstanding 2013 season for him, which has Criner in a tough situation in 2014. First he has to make the roster, and then he has to show that he can live up to his potential.

OLB Miles Burris

Miles Burris
Getty Images

OLB Miles Burris

Miles Burris
Getty Images

Due in large part to injuries, Burris started his entire 2012 rookie season, but was underwhelming at the outside linebacker position. He was expected to come back better in 2013, but a surprise knee surgery forced him to miss most of the season. While considered a valuable depth option, Burris must prove that he can stay healthy and be productive this season or the Raiders might be forced to sever ties.

TE David Ausberry

David Ausberry
Getty Images

TE David Ausberry

David Ausberry
Getty Images

Heading into the 2013 campaign, Ausberry was expected to be the starting tight end. Instead, a significant shoulder injury ended his season before it began. Now healthy, he’ll be looked upon to make another push for the starting gig. However, if he can’t beat out sophomore Mychal Rivera and earn a prominent role in the Raiders’ offense, Ausberry could be leaving Oakland next offseason.

CB D.J. Hayden

D.J. Hayden
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

CB D.J. Hayden

D.J. Hayden
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, it’s only been one season. However, first-round draft picks are expected to make a significant impact quickly, and the Raiders don’t have time to be patient. Hayden showed little promise during his rookie season, eventually hitting IR with a groin injury. Before being shut down, though, the Houston product struggled to adjust to the physicality of the NFL. Either he steps up in 2014 or the Raiders start to gauge his trade value.

RB Darren McFadden

Darren McFadden
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

RB Darren McFadden

Darren McFadden
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This offseason, the Raiders handed McFadden a one-year “prove it” deal. After six up-and-down seasons, they’re giving the former first-round pick one more opportunity to show that he can be the workhorse in Oakland. He’ll have to compete for touches with Maurice Jones-Drew, but if McFadden can stay healthy and productive, he could re-assert himself as the starter for the foreseeable future.

Gil Alcaraz IV is the Director of Content for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @GilAlcarazIV, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.