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NFL Oakland Raiders

5 Early Predictions for the Oakland Raiders’ 2014 Season

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5 Predictions for the Raiders' 2014 Campaign

Khalil Mack
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Raiders went into this offseason with a plan, and appear to have executed to the best of their abilities. While there are still plenty of people who are skeptical of their chances of contending in 2014, their free agency acquisitions and incoming draft class make them a team worth taking seriously.

With that in mind, here are five early predictions for the Raiders’ 2014 season.

5. Juron Criner will emerge as a playmaker

Juron Criner
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

5. Juron Criner will emerge as a playmaker

Juron Criner
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

For the last two years, the Raiders have been patiently waiting for Criner to translate his domination in shorts and a t-shirt to game day. It has yet to happen, and 2014 could be his final opportunity to prove to Oakland that he can get the job done. Already off to a strong start during OTAs, Criner should have enough experience and talent to take his game to the next level this upcoming campaign.

4. Latavius Murray will lead the team in rushing yards

Latavius Murray
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

4. Latavius Murray will lead the team in rushing yards

Latavius Murray
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

With two injury-prone veterans ahead of him on the depth chart, it’s only a matter of time before Murray sees the field for the Raiders. When he finally gets an opportunity, Oakland will have no choice but to give the sophomore considerable reps. Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew might be the established talents, but Murray is ready to emerge as a star in 2014.

3. Lamarr Woodley will lead the team in sacks

Lamarr Woodley
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

3. Lamarr Woodley will lead the team in sacks

Lamarr Woodley
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Having lost Lamarr Houston this offseason, the Raiders will be looking for another defensive end to emerge as their top pass rusher. While Justin Tuck might seem like the logical option at right end, Woodley should see the most success in terms of tormenting opposing passers. Woodley is an underrated talent who has the size/speed combo to lead the Raiders in sacks in 2014.

2. Derek Carr will be starting by Week 4

Derek Carr Raiders
Getty Images

2. Derek Carr will be starting by Week 4

Derek Carr Raiders
Getty Images

The Raiders have made it clear that they plan on having Matt Schaub under center come Week 1. However, the veteran simply doesn’t have what it takes to hold off an up-and-coming talent like Carr. After the first few interceptions – and subsequent losses – Schaub will be forced to the bench in favor of the rookie quarterback. It will happen before Week 4; you heard it here first.

1. Khalil Mack will make the 2014 Pro Bowl

Khalil Mack
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

1. Khalil Mack will make the 2014 Pro Bowl

Khalil Mack
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

When Mack slid to the Raiders at No. 5, it was obvious they were getting a huge steal. The Buffalo product has legitimate top-pick talent, and shouldn’t take long to start showing it off to the rest of the NFL. Because of his elite athleticism, outstanding instincts and polished technique, Mack will quickly prove to be one of the top playmakers in the NFL, which will land him a trip to his first Pro Bowl – as a rookie.

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.