Predicting the Oakland Raiders’ 2014 Starters

Predicting Who Will be the Raiders' Starters in 2014

Denarius Moore
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2014 NFL season only a few months away – sounds way worse than I thought it would – it’s about that time when we begin looking at what the rosters could look like. The Oakland Raiders certainly upgraded this offseason, but are still seen as a team on the mend.

Here’s an early look at what the Raiders’ starting lineup could look like when September rolls around.

QB: Matt Schaub

Matt Schaub
Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

QB: Matt Schaub

Matt Schaub
Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

As much as fans would like to see the Raiders go with rookie Derek Carr as their starting quarterback, it’s not going to happen. Oakland must be patient, which means starting offseason acquisition Schaub is the most likely scenario. He’s an experienced starter who can keep the seat warm until Carr is ready.

RB: Darren McFadden

Darren McFadden
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

RB: Darren McFadden

Darren McFadden
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

While he certainly seems like a less-than-ideal option to start, he makes the most sense. When healthy, he’s an upper-echelon runner with elite speed and explosiveness. McFadden is also familiar with the offense. Don’t think for a second that you won’t see plenty of Maurice Jones-Drew, though.

WR: Denarius Moore and James Jones

James Jones
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

WR: Denarius Moore and James Jones

James Jones
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

There are still some concerns at wide receiver, and changes could easily be made before the season starts. As it looks right now, though, the Raiders’ best bets are Moore and Jones, with some Rod Streater thrown in for good measure. Don’t be surprised if undrafted rookie Mike Davis earns a role as well.

TE: Mychal Rivera

Mychal Rivera
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

TE: Mychal Rivera

Mychal Rivera
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Rivera is coming off an outstanding rookie season, and might just be the Raiders’ most well-rounded tight end. David Ausberry could certainly push for some playing time, but Rivera should be Oakland’s top tight end by the time the regular season rolls around.

OT: Donald Penn (LT) and Austin Howard (RT)

Donald Penn
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

OT: Donald Penn (LT) and Austin Howard (RT)

Donald Penn
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Both offseason acquisitions, Penn and Howard appear ready to bookend this rebuilt offensive line. Penn is a short-term answer who lacks the athleticism to routinely shut down speed rushers. Howard is a solid run blocker, but also needs work in pass protection. Both could be replaced if their seasons start poorly.

G: Tony Bergstrom (LG) and Gabe Jackson (RG)

Gabe Jackson
Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

G: Tony Bergstrom (LG) and Gabe Jackson (RG)

Gabe Jackson
Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Bergstrom, the only semi-reliable returning guard for the Raiders, should have the starting job in the bag at this point. Jackson will battle with veteran Kevin Boothe on the right side, but has the potential to push the offseason acquisition to the bench. It will be a fierce battle that I see Jackson winning.

C: Stefen Wisniewski

Stefen Wisniewski
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

C: Stefen Wisniewski

Stefen Wisniewski
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

As of this moment, the Raiders don’t even have a clear-cut backup for Wisniewski. He’s the only established starter on this line, and should help keep the group together heading into 2014.

DE: Lamarr Woodley (LE) and Justin Tuck (RE)

Justin Tuck
Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

DE: Lamarr Woodley (LE) and Justin Tuck (RE)

Justin Tuck
Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

The Raiders spent big money rebuilding the defensive line this offseason. Free agency additions Woodley and Tuck will get the opportunity to prove their worth as the starting defensive ends, but don’t be surprised to see plenty of C.J. Wilson early on as Oakland looks to establish a reliable rotation.

DT: Antonio Smith (3T) and Pat Sims (NT)

Antonio Smith
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

DT: Antonio Smith (3T) and Pat Sims (NT)

Antonio Smith
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

The veteran Smith will have no trouble locking down the starting three-technique job. His only competition is Ricky Lumpkin, who simply isn’t a threat. The nose tackle job, however, is completely up for grabs. Sims is the favorite, but Stacy McGee and rookie Justin Ellis will push hard for playing time.

OLB: Sio Moore (Sam) and Khalil Mack (Will)

Khalil Mack
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

OLB: Sio Moore (Sam) and Khalil Mack (Will)

Khalil Mack
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

It’s still unclear how the Raiders plan on shuffling the linebacking unit with Mack now in the mix. My guess is Kevin Burnett gets moved inside, which will allow Moore to stay on the strong side while Mack takes over on the weak side. Miles Burris should also see some snaps as a quality reserve.

MLB: Kevin Burnett

Kevin Burnett
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

MLB: Kevin Burnett

Kevin Burnett
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

This is assuming the Raiders make the move to bump Burnett inside. However, there’s a significant chance they choose to keep Nick Roach at middle linebacker instead. Still, Burnett was the better player in 2013 and offers the veteran leadership the Raiders defense needs moving forward.

CB: D.J. Hayden and Carlos Rogers

D.J. Hayden
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

CB: D.J. Hayden and Carlos Rogers

D.J. Hayden
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After spending the end of his rookie season on IR, the Raiders will be looking for big things from Hayden in 2014. He’ll start on one side while Carlos Rogers is likely to earn the other starting job. Tarell Brown will certainly be in the mix as well, but expect Rogers’ experience to prevail when all is said and done.

FS: Charles Woodson

Charles Woodson
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

FS: Charles Woodson

Charles Woodson
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Unless the veteran lost a significant step this offseason, Woodson will be the starting free safety. He provides strong leadership in the secondary and is a fan favorite. The Raiders will sprinkle in some Usama Young, but it’s Woodson’s position as of now.

SS: Tyvon Branch

Tyvon Branch
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

SS: Tyvon Branch

Tyvon Branch
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Finally back from a season-ending ankle injury, Branch will be looking to re-assert himself as the enforcer of the Raiders secondary. He’s primed for a huge bounce-back season on the backend of an improved Oakland defense. His backup, Brandian Ross, better get comfortable on the bench.

Special Teams

Sebastian Janikowski
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Special Teams

Sebastian Janikowski
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Sebastian Janikowski is the starting kicker, plain and simple. Marquette King returns for his second season as the starting punter, but might get a subtle push from Daniel Zychlinski during camp. Jon Condo is back as the long snapper, and Taiwan Jones and Greg Jenkins figure to handle return duties.

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.


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