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NFL Oakland Raiders

Predicting 5 Surprise Starters for the Oakland Raiders in 2014

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5 Raiders Who Will Get Unexpected Starts in 2014

Latavius Murray Raiders
Getty Images

Similar to last season, the Oakland Raiders will be forced to rely on some under-the-radar players to see starts in 2014. Whether it’s due to injuries or disappointing play from the current starters, these players will get an opportunity to prove their worth. That’s why depth has become such an important part of a playoff-caliber team in the NFL.

Here’s a look at five players who could see surprise starts this upcoming campaign.

Juron Criner

Juron Criner
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Juron Criner

Juron Criner
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into training camp, the Raiders still haven’t figured out who their No. 1 receiver will be in 2014. Their most talented pass-catcher, Denarius Moore, is already on the trading block, and James Jones is better suited for a complementary role. Criner has been a disappointment in his first two years with the Raiders, but an outstanding showing during OTAs could translate to some early-season starts.

DT Justin Ellis

Justin Ellis Raiders
Getty Images

DT Justin Ellis

Justin Ellis Raiders
Getty Images

Ellis still has a long way to go before he’s ready to start, but he might be thrust into a starting role sooner than expected. With Antonio Smith still working his way back from injury, the Raiders could be looking for a young player to earn snaps. Considering his impressive size and ability to anchor the defensive front, Ellis has the tools to sneak in a few surprising starts this season in Oakland.

G Gabe Jackson

Gabe Jackson
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

G Gabe Jackson

Gabe Jackson
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Even though the Raiders upgraded their offensive line as a whole this offseason, there are still some unanswered questions heading into training camp. Khalif Barnes is currently slated as one of the starting guards, but is getting all the pressure he can handle from Jackson. The rookie has the strength, technique and athleticism to be a starter in the NFL, and could push Barnes out of the starting job sooner rather than later.

OLB Miles Burris

Miles Burris
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

OLB Miles Burris

Miles Burris
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Early reports out of Oakland have Burris pushing 2013 starter Sio Moore for serious snaps. While he missed most of last year due to injury, Burris was a starter during his rookie 2012 season and clearly has the talent to hold down the job. Moore might be a better athlete and pass rusher, but Burris could still give him a run for his money and edge him for the starting job before September arrives.

RB Latavius Murray

Latavius Murray
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

RB Latavius Murray

Latavius Murray
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not going to happen right away, but Murray stands an excellent chance of starting eventually in 2014. With injury-prone veterans Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden ahead of him on the depth chart, Murray will get an opportunity to prove his worth at some point this season. The sophomore has all of the tools to be a stud, and assuming he can stay healthy, should emerge as a playmaker for the Raiders.

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.