Ever since May 8th, Raider fans have been itching to see their draft picks in action. On Friday, the rookies played in their first NFL game. How did they fare in the team's 10-6 loss to the Minnesota Vikings?
Khalil Mack, OLB, #52 (1st round)
The fifth overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft came into the game with high expectations. He has already been compared to Pro Bowl linebacker Von Miller and is a favorite to win Defensive Rookie of the Year. In his first NFL game, Mack did not live up to the hype. While the Buffalo alumnus did not play terrible, he certainly could have performed better. At times, it was evident how talented he is.
One play that comes to mind is when he shed a block and teamed up with Sio Moore for a tackle in the backfield. But most of the game, Mack struggled getting off his blockers and did not make much of an impact.
Mack finished the night with two tackles including one for a loss.
While it was only the rookie's first game in the pros, he will be expected to perform much better when the regular season rolls around in a month.
Derek Carr, QB, #4 (2nd round)
I thought Carr played pretty well Friday night. His arm strength was tremendous and he showed nice accuracy throughout the game. I was also impressed with how Carr went through his reads. He was not afraid to check it down to the runningback or tight end. Carr was ok with taking a five yard gain instead of risking a throw to a covered receiver which is a good quality for a quarterback.
His one 'bad' play came in the second quarter when he rolled out left and threw a hard ball slightly high to Jamize Olawale. Instead of catching to ball, Olawale tipped it off his hands right into a Vikings defender. While Carr's throw could have been lower, it was catchable and should have been a six yard completion.
Throwing high on checkdowns had been a problem Carr faced in training camp. It carried over to the game where he threw two checkdowns a little high. One was completed, the other was picked off.
Carr primarily operated out of the shotgun. This does not come as a surprise as he mainly played in the shotgun at Fresno State. But he will eventually have to learn to consistently take more snaps under center.
Carr ended up going ten for sixteen for a total of 74 yards and one interception. Three of the incompletions were dropped balls.
Gabe Jackson, OG, #66 (3rd round)
The left guard from Mississippi State was the most consistent rookie (and maybe Raider) on the field. His pass protection was flawless and he did not give up a sack. Jackson also showed he is an efficient run blocker. He has impressive speed when pulling and created some nice holes for Latavius Murray and Kory Sheets.
Now granted, he was competing against the Vikings second string defense. But he also had about as good of a performance as you can ask of a lineman. Watch out Khalif Barnes, Gabe Jackson is coming for your starting job.
Justin Ellis, NT, #78 (4th round)
"Jelly" did not see much playing time because he sustained a concussion late in the first quarter. He was trying to dive on a fumble when Vikings left tackle Matt Kalil dove on him. Kalil's shoulder pad nailed Ellis' helmet.
The same play also happened to be Ellis' best on the night. He did a great job of pushing the offensive lineman backwards into the pocket. Ellis then got around him and was about to sack Bridgewater when fellow rookie Shelby Harris got to the quarterback and forced the fumble. It was the play of the night as both rookie defensive lineman dominated the Vikings starting offensive line.
Keith McGill, CB, #39 (4th round)
McGill sat out the preseason opener with a groin injury.
T.J. Carrie, CB, #38 (7th round)
Entering training camp with low expectations, Carrie impressed both the fans and coaches. He worked his way into the second string and replaced injured cornerback D.J. Hayden on Friday. Based off his performance against the Vikings, maybe he should be on first string.
Carrie made two excellent plays at left cornerback. The first was a 15 yard out that Carrie got to just in time to deflect the pass.
The second pass deflection was one of the best plays of the night. Carrie was playing about eight yards off the receiver when the ball was snapped. Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder immediately turned his shoulders to throw a quick out to the outside receiver. As soon as Ponder's left palm came off the ball, Carrie was already breaking on the ball. He made a beautiful play to deflect the pass and almost got there in time to intercept it.
He also showed his aggressiveness with four tackles.
Shelby Harris, DE, #75 (7th round)
Harris was a questionable pick, even in the seventh round. He did not play his senior season as he was dismissed from Illinois State for conduct detrimental to the team. But on Friday he made Reggie McKenzie look like a genius. Harris was pressuring the Vikings quarterbacks all night. He entered the game in the late first quarter and quickly made a great play.
Using his impressive speed, Harris got around Matt Kalil and sacked Teddy Bridgewater. That's right, the Matt Kalil that is a Pro Bowl left tackle and was the fourth overall pick in 2012. Instead of just sacking Bridgewater, Harris also stripped the ball from his hands.
While he only had two tackles in the two quarters he played, the 7th round sleeper pressured the quarterback more than anyone else on the team (including first round pick Khalil Mack).
Jonathan Dowling, S, #41 (7th round)
Dowling looked lost on the defense. He only made one tackle and whiffed on two separate occasions. His pass coverage was even worse. Somehow, a tight end managed to burn him for a twenty yard gain. If the 6-3 safety wants to make the team, he better pick it up soon.