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Raiders Vs. Chargers: Rookies May Have a Big Impact in Opener

The Oakland Raiders entered the off season with little hope of making an impact on the team through the draft. Due to various trades, the Raiders had no picks until the fifth round and only two picks overall. Then the Raiders received three compensatory picks for free agents lost during the previous off season, including the highest compensatory pick given, a third rounder. During the draft, the Raiders picked up one more pick by moving back ten spots in the fifth round. The Raiders still had no picks until the last pick in the third round, and only 6 picks in all, and yet Reggie McKenzie has put together a rookie class where at least three players will likely play a significant role in the season opener against the San Diego Chargers.

With the injuries to the receiving corps, the Raiders are thin at the position for the opener. Jacoby Ford will not play in the game and even though Denarius Moore will be suited up, he likely will not be ready to play a significant number of snaps after missing the entire pre season. Because of this, the Raiders signed free agent wide receiver Derek Hagan, who Raiders fans will remember for his stint with the Raiders last season. But since he just signed with the team, he is not familiar with the offense yet and is likely more of a depth signing for week one. Because of that, the Raiders will need production from their two rookie wide receivers, Juron Criner, and undrafted free agent Rod Streater.

Criner is a talented receiver who fell to the Raiders late in the draft because of a poor 40 time and some personality concerns. He is good sized, has great hands and runs good routes. Rod Streater is an undrafted free agent who was the star of the team in the pre season. In every game but the last one, where he was pulled after only one series, it seemed ilke Streater's name was being called on every other pass attempt. He had good chemistry with Palmer and put up some solid numbers. If the Raiders want to get a win in week one, they will need some production from these guys.

The other rookie who is likely to have a big impact on the game is outside linebacker Miles Burris. As the Raiders second pick of the draft, Burris was taken in the fourth round in an attempt to solidify the second worst part of the Raiders defense. While Burris was drafted with thoughts of him being a starter of the future, an injury to Aaron Curry has made him the starter of today. But that did not faze Burris one bit. He stepped up to the plate and had a very impressive pre season for the Raiders, leaving little concern over the absence of Aaron Curry.

For as little as he was given to work with, Reggie McKenzie deserves a lot of credit for finding three rookies capable of contributing from the get go this season.