Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie did not waste anytime signing the team's 2014 NFL Draft class. With all of the players signed, the Raiders can move onto the more important business which is giving them the best chance to compete for roster spots, playing time, and starting roles. Because everyone has their deals complete, the rookies have the best opportunity to learn and develop during OTAs, training camp, and the preseason.
Last year, the Raiders did not sign first-round pick DJ Hayden and second-round pick Menelik Watson until late July, just before training camp. McKenzie worked far more quickly this season; having the entire class inked in the first week of June. That shows the commitment the Raiders have made to get these rookies involved early in hopes that they can take advantage of the offseason workouts.
The Raiders will be counting on numerous 2014 NFL Draft picks to play right away. First-round pick Khalil Mack is penciled into the strong side linebacker spot and has a great chance to be a week one starter. Third-round pick Gabe Jackson is certainly in the competition to start at left guard as soon as week one. Second-round pick Derek Carr will sit behind starter Matt Schaub according to the coaches, but his development in his first season is paramount. He is the future starter at quarterback.
Fourth-round picks Keith McGill and Justin Ellis will compete for playing time in the rotations at cornerback and defensive line respectively. All the seventh-round picks, T.J. Carrie, Jonathan Dowling, and Shelby Harris are competing for a roster spot. Because so much is on the line for these rookies, having their deals complete early into the offseason workouts maximizes their ability to compete for their roles. There is no ongoing contract discussion to distract. There is only the focus of learning football at the NFL level and acclimating themselves into the Raiders' offensive and defensive systems.
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