By Ryan Ratty @RyanRattyNFL on August 29, 2014
The Oakland Raiders cleaned house over the offseason. The Raiders spent a lot of money in free agency, and they brought in rookies who could have an immediate impact. Now that the preseason is over, the Raiders can make their final cuts.
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If you have read my articles before, you know that I'm a huge fan of Khalil Mack. But if it were up to me, I wouldn't play him at the weakside linebacker. His versatility allows him to play the WILL linebacker and defensive end in the 4-3. Mack can sack the quarterback, pick off passes and make tackles in the backfield. He is a special player, and he has played well for Oakland throughout the preseason.
I thought Matt Schaub would be the starter for Week 1, but that was before the Raiders' Week 4 preseason game. In yesterday's game against the Seattle Seahawks, Carr had a terrific game. He even played well against the Seahawks' first-stringers. When asked, Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle said Carr's chances of starting are 100 percent.
Unlike years past, the Raiders have a decent offensive line heading into the 2014 NFL season. Because of that, Gabe Jackson will likely not get a lot of snaps in his rookie year, but that doesn't mean he won't start in his NFL career. Jackson is a mauler and he fits perfectly in the Raiders' zone scheme. It will be interesting to see how Oakland uses Jackson going forward.
Like Jackson, Justin Ellis will probably be a rotational player in his rookie season. The Raiders brought in Antonio Smith in free agency to pair with Pat Sims. Smith and Sims will be the starting defensive tackles with Ellis coming in and spelling either one of them. Ellis has a quick burst off the ball, and that will help him going forward.
After watching the Seahawks dominate with that tall, lengthy secondary, teams around the league started copying that trend and one of the copycats was the Raiders. While he is extremely raw and new to the position, Keith McGill is a 6-foot-3, 210-pound cornerback. That alone tells this coaching staff he could be a nice player after getting some tutelage.
T.J. Carrie is a hometown kid, and the Raiders like his ability to play in the slot. Because of injuries in college, Carrie lasted until the seventh round, and the Raiders were extremely happy to see him still there. Carrie is always around the ball at the end of plays, and that hasn't gone unnoticed. Carrie is a solid player, but there are more experienced players in front of him.
Shelby Harris was a top recruit coming out of college, but he ended up playing his collegiate football at Illinois State. Harris has a nice body to play defensive end in Oakland's 4-3, but he will need surpass people on the depth chart. He is extremely raw, and this coaching staff needs to find a way to develop him.
Jonathan Dowling is a nice player. Despite playing football at Western Kentucky, Dowling has a nice stature. He also has the ability to play cornerback and safety. At 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, Dowling has a nice weight distribution. He excels at turning his hips and does a nice job wrapping up too. The Raiders have good starters at the safety positions, so Dowling's role will be mainly special teams.
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