When studying the Raiders starting roster from last week, I noticed something rather interesting. That being the complete lack of top draft talent among the skill positions. In fact, most of them weren't drafted at all.
Here is what the Raiders lineup looked like the past two weeks at the skill positions and where they were drafted (if at all):
QB Matt McGloin - undrafted
RB Rashad Jennings - 7th round (FA 13)
FB Marcel Reece -- undrafted
WR Rod Streater - undrafted
WR Andre Holmes - undrafted (FA 13)
TE Jeron Mastrud - undrafted (FA 13)
TE Mychal Rivera - 6th round
Three of these players entered the league with the new regime - Matt McGloin, Rod Streater, and Mychal Rivera - with Marcel Reece being an original Raider as well.
McGloin of course being the best story as a try out player who worked his way up from essentially fifth string to starter. Streater was the first standout undrafted free agent for the new regime. He broke out as a rookie too.
Reece is a Pro Bowl fullback for this team and he just signed a big extension. He began his career as a tight end prospect as a former college wide receiver. He found his niche when he was tried as a fullback and has never looked back.
A player such as Andre Holmes is getting his first chance to start in the NFL. He began his career in Dallas where he spent the past two seasons and collected just two catches in that time. He is now starting in place of the injured Denarius Moore (a fifth round pick) and his 7 catches for 136 yards last week against his former team in Dallas shows he is worthy of the shot he is being given.
If you think 2 catches in two season isn't a lot, consider that Jeron Mastrud had one catch in three years in Miami. He hasn't taken the league by storm this season but he has five times as many catches as he had coming in. Which is to say he has five catches. Sixth round pick, Mychal Rivera starts opposite him as the receiving tight end. All this because the planned starter was lost for the season. That is, of course, former seventh round pick, David Ausberry.
Jennings has also proven he is worthy of his playing time. Since filling in for the injured Darren McFadden week 7, he has been nothing short of a revelation. He was second in the NFL in rushing yards over the month of November, behind only Adrian Peterson. This after being relegated to back up duties behind Maurice Jones-Drew in Jacksonville the first four seasons of his career.
Some of these players are starting simply for lack of viable options. But most of them have very much earned their starting jobs and it is a credit to the Raiders scouting and coaching that they were uncovered and given a real shot to contribute at the NFL level.