Raiders building foundation of youth

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Despite criticism about the age of Oakland's free agent signings, after the 2014 draft, the Raiders seem to be building a nice base of young players.

Before the draft, the average age on the Oakland roster was 30.9 years old — not exactly what you want from a team that is "rebuilding". The good news for Raiders fans, however, is that despite that high number, there really is a wealth of young talent throughout the roster.

In looking at who Oakland has under the age of 27, the talent that should constitute the foundation of the roster for the next few years is probably better than many would expect (note: this isn't everyone, just the players who figure to be building blocks):

QB — Derek Carr (23)

RB — Latavius Murray (24)

WR — Denarius Moore (25), Andre Holmes (25), Rod Streater (26)

TE — Mychal Rivera (23), Nick Kasa (23), David Ausberry (26)

OL — Austin Howard (27), Gabe Jackson (22), Menelik Watson (25), Stefen Wisniewski (25)

DL — Jack Crawford (25), Justin Ellis (23), Stacy McGee (24)

LB — Miles Burris (25), Khalil Mack (23), Sio Moore (24)

CB — DJ Hayden (23), Keith McGill (25)

S — Tyvon Branch (27)

Now, obviously, there are plenty of names on this list who have yet to prove themselves — including some guys who haven't even played a game in this league. Don't let that overshadow the guys who have established themselves, though.

Howard, Wisniewski, Jackson and Watson on the offensive-line? Promising.

Mack and Moore anchoring the linebackers? Uh-huh.

Could Carr be the quarterback of the future? Lots of people are sure hoping so.

Now, there's two ways to interpret this piece: "the Raiders are set for the next ten years!" or "this roster might be more promising than many make it out to be!"

The truth is, my goal is to establish the second thought and not the first. There's no guarantee that Mack, Carr and Hayden pan out; there's also no guarantee that Branch and Wisniewski are still playing at a high level two or three years from now.

But sweat not, Raiders fans, underneath the facade of aging veterans is a base that you can be proud of. Now it's just time to hope most of these guys pan out.

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