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A Bully...Not the Only Thing the Raiders Are Building

There is a lot of buzz around the Raiders this year, even after a loss to the Patriots. Fans are a little let down by the loss as they should be, but the fact that the Raiders were expected to compete and possibly win that game against the Patriots means one thing. The Raiders are back. However, unlike the last time the Raiders were a real threat in the league, this team is young and built for the future.

While every fan wants their team to win now, Raider fans have to have a good feeling right now knowing that it's not now or never. Raiders have play makers all over the field, and many are in their first or second year. You can see and sense the changes in this franchise from the head coach to the personnel . Gone are the days when the Raiders go out and spend top dollar on aging players in free agency expecting them to come in and immediately turn this team around. Al Davis and Hue Jackson are now looking to build from within and generate a youth movement and it is paying dividends to this point.

There is not a position group on offense that is not injected with youth. At WR, the top 4 guys on the depth chart are 24 years of age or younger. Arguably the best one on the team, Denarius Moore, is starting as a rookie. Jacoby Ford is in his second year and showed what he could do as a rookie too making many explosive plays, including multiple return TD's. The highly scrutinized Darrius Heyward-Bey is starting to come into his own as well, and Louis Murphy who many thought was the number one WR a year ago has his share of talent that should not be discounted. A lot of people have talked about getting a "big name" WR to come to Oakland, but I am not sure they need one at this point. The tight end group is very young with 2 out of 3 being rookies, and I think most have liked what they have seen to this point from Davis Ausberry and Richard Gordon.

Raiders have the best RB group in the NFL. I don't think anyone can argue that statement. Darren McFadden and Michael Bush are in their prime right now and thriving. People forget DMC is only 24 years old, and Bush 27. The Raiders added Taiwan Jones in the draft this year, who is also a big play guy anytime he touches the ball. The best part though is they can develop him behind DMC and Bush instead of throwing him to the wolves like many of their rookies. It's worth noting that Marcel Reece has developed into quite a weapon at FB as well, and is only 26 himself.

The offensive line is doing well, and will only get better as they develop. Jared Veldheer has made huge strides in his second season at LT along with Stefen Wisniewski who is showing very well as a rookie at LG. That left side is locked down for years to come. Speaking of rookies, Joseph Barksdale has gotten a lot of game time at RT as of late, and he doing a great job. Bruce Campbell should not be forgotten either. His career has gotten off to a slow start due to injuries, but I don't think anyone is doubting his power and ability. The Raiders seem to be grooming him to take over for Cooper Carlisle at RG in the future. That would mean 4 solid OL starters under the age of 25. Something a lot of teams can only dream of, and not one of them is a first round pick.

With Terrell Pryor being drafted in the supplemental draft, even the QB position has gotten younger. No one knows for sure if Pryor's future is at QB or not. Only time will tell how he will develop there. Many don't realize though that Jason Campbell is only 29 as well. Jason has probably reached his ceiling as a quarterback. However, even though he will never be a superstar, he is better than a lot of quarterbacks in this league and finds ways to win games. He is a leader on this Raiders team, and rarely makes costly mistakes.

The DB's are quickly becoming a young group as well. Stanford Routt is a very young 28. The reason why I say that, is because he does not have the years of wear and tear on his body like some because he started his career very slow. He is just now entering his prime, and has many good years ahead of him. Michael Huff is also 28. Mike Mitchell and Tyvon Branch, although Branch is in his third year of starting at SS, are only 24 years old. Then you get to the rookies. DeMarcus Van Dyke and Chimdi Chekwa have a lot of learning and developing to do, but both have bright futures under coach Rod Woodson.

The front seven has its share of guys in their mid 20's as well. Rolando McClain has shown that he still has his best years ahead of him after being a fulltime starter as a rookie. Kamerion Wimbley, Quentin Groves, Jarvis Moss, LaMarr Houston, Matt Shaughnessy, Desmond Bryant, and Trevor Scott are all players who are 27 or younger. While not all superstars, that group provides a nice foundation to build on in the future. If there is one group that could afford to get younger it is the defensive tackles, and I'm sure that will be a position of focus in the next couple of years.

As you can now see for yourself this is a very young and talented team. There is no doubt that the Raider Nation is eager to win now, but hopefully this brings into perspective that not only are the Raiders "Building a Bully" but they are also "Building a Dynasty". Something Raider fans have been yearning for since the Super Bowl let down of the 2002-2003 season.

 

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