The rest of the football world is starting to take notice of what General Manager Reggie McKenzie is building in Oakland.
NFL Media Analyst Bucky Brooks compiled a list of ten players entering their second seasons poised for stardom and the two Raiders cornerstones, quarterback Derek Carr and linebacker Khalil Mack, who made the list at No. 6 and No. 2 respectively.
After what was widely considered a successful campaign that saw him become just the 14th player (since 1978) to start all 16 games during his rookie season, as well as complete the season ranked second-all time in completions and attempts by a rookie, the Raiders are hoping that Carr can build off 2014 and establish himself as one of the top-tier quarterbacks in the NFL going forward.
Photos of linebacker Khalil Mack's rookie season with the Oakland Raiders.
As is the case with any young quarterback, the former Fresno State Bulldog still has plenty of room to grow, but the addition of wide receiver Amari Cooper should help temper any fear of Carr falling into a "sophomore slump."
"With rookie Amari Cooper coming onboard to give the Raiders a dynamic WR1, Carr's game could go from good to great in a hurry," wrote Brooks. "With limited weapons on the perimeter last season, Carr connected on 58.1 percent of his passes and mustered a 21:12 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Now that he has a talented target on the outside, he should surpass those numbers."
Similarly to his teammate on the offensive side of the football, Khalil Mack, the No. 5 overall pick in 2014's NFL Draft lived up to the billing and then some during his rookie season.
Mack started all 16 games for the Silver and Black, totaling 84 tackles (59 solo), four sacks, four passes defensed and one forced fumble, and also established himself as one the premier linebackers against the run, recording 11.5 "stuffs" against the run to rank second in the NFL according to STATS, INC.
Now Mack, who was also named to Sports Illustrated's All-Rookie Team, as well as the USA Football All-Fundamental Team, can add another accolade to his short, albeit it very impressive, career.
"Mack exhibits explosive strength and power holding the point against run plays to his side," wrote Brooks. "He bullies offensive tackles and tight ends on the way to the runner, leading to a number of tackles for loss and negative plays. If Mack can refine his rush skills and cash in on sack opportunities, he could become the destructive playmaker the Raiders need to contend in the AFC West."
Carr and Mack have established themselves as two of the franchise pillars for the Silver and Black, and seeing the pair take the next step in their professional progression can do nothing but help the long-term success of the franchise.
Here is the the list according to Brooks:
10) Jadeveon Clowney, OLB, Houston Texans
9) Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
8) Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers
7) Jarvis Landry, WR, Miami Dolphins
6) Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders
5) Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills
4) Brandin Cooks, WR, New Orleans Saints
3) Anthony Barr, OLB, Minnesota Vikings
2) Khalil Mack, OLB, Oakland Raiders
1) Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Minnesota Vikings