Football is finally back! It all starts tonight for the Raiders as they travel to the midwest to face the Minnesota Vikings. The results in the scoreboard don't count for anything, but the results on the field very much do.
What we are all most excited about is most definitely finally getting to see this year's draft class. It is a very interesting year for Raiders rookies with each one of them creating some intrigue at one time or another this off-season. In fact, each draft pick this year is making a strong case so far to make the roster. I don't remember the last time that could be said about a Raiders draft.
First and foremost there are the top two picks for the Raiders draft that every single Oakland fan in The Nation is looking forward to seeing, LB Khalil Mack and QB Derek Carr. These two players are finally going to get to show what they are made of to everybody instead of just talking about it.
Expectations are extremely high for both Mack and Carr, but they seem ready for the challenges ahead. It will be exciting to see what they bring to the table in their first game action in the NFL. Khalil Mack might not play all that much with him already being a starter on the defense, but expect to see a fair amount of action from Derek Carr leading the offense.
Along with Derek Carr's second team will be 3rd round pick Guard Gabe Jackson. Even though Mack and Carr are the two that will garner the most intention, many of us are very excited to see what Big Gabe is going to do. He has the size and strength to play in this league, though he is still battling to be able to start as a rookie. The preseason games will mean a lot towards Gabe's chances of winning a starting spot along the offensive line.
On the defensive side there is 4th round pick DT Justin "Jelly" Ellis who will be garnering the most attention on the 2nd string defense. There have been rave reviews about Jelly throughout training camp so far with him really being a rock in the middle of the line. Now is his time to show that it's not just talk and that he can back it up in a game against a different NFL team instead of just against his own teammates in practice.
Fellow 4th round pick CB Keith McGill on the other hand is unlikely to play with a groin injury that has kept him from practicing as of late. Keith has actually had the least amount of press about him so it would be nice to get to see him in action but most likely we will have to wait for that. It will be a setback for McGill if he can't play because 7th round rookie T.J. Carrie has already been surpassing him as one of the biggest surprises in camp so far.
Speaking of T.J. Carrie, we just might see a fair amount of him tonight. He is the starting punt returner and also the 2nd string LCB today behind Carlos Rodgers because D.J. Hayden is going to be out still recovering from his foot fracture. After hearing about nice plays from T.J. almost every day of training camp so far it will be very important to see if he can bring that to a game situation too. I am certain the coaching staff is going to key in on his performance tonight.
Besides T.J. there will also be fellow 7th round picks Shelby Harris and Jonathan Dowling. Shelby is listed as the #2 RDE behind LaMarr Woodley and has been doing well as of late in practice. After missing all of last season in college due to behavioral issues, you know he is ready to hit somebody!
As for Jonathan Dowling, he will be backing up SS Tyvon Branch tonight. He is actually listed as 3rd string on the depth chart but Usama Young has not been able to practice yet in training camp and remains on the team's PUP list. Jonathan was actually called the biggest steal of the draft by the legendary Gil Brandt, those are some big words for the 7th rounder to live up to but he gets his first chance to do so tonight.
Of all these rookies who do you think is likely to have the best game? Let me know in the Poll Question down below!