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Eight Draft Picks, Eight Questions

By Justin Lum
Silver & Black Productions

Yes, the 2014 NFL Draft is in the books and the anxiety is over. In other words, Christmas has passed and the Raiders are getting familiar with some new toys. As Rookie Mini Camp is about to kick off, we pose a question regarding each of the Raiders draft picks.

1. Where will Khalil Mack line up in defensive coordinator Jason Tarver's 4-3

.@RAIDERS Defensive Coordinator Jason Tarver is raving about Khalil Mack's ability to rush the passer, but also his coverage skills. — 95.7 The GAME (@957thegame) May 15, 2014

It will be interesting to see how Coach Tarver a.k.a "The Mad Scientist" uses the versatile outside linebacker in Khalil Mack who head coach Dennis Allen compares to Broncos OLB Von Miller. At the University of Buffalo, Mack produced double-digit sacks by lining up with his hand in the dirt and standing up off the edge. With experienced pass rushers like Justin Tuck and Lamarr Woodley on the line of scrimmage, the Mack Attack can be disguised and brought from multiple spots.

2. What is the most impressive intangible about second-round pick QB Derek Carr?

@ShelbyHarris93 let's get ready to work bro! Congrats man! #RaiderNation — Derek Carr (@derekcarrqb) May 11, 2014

Rookie quarterback Derek Carr is definitely excited to sling the rock to his new receivers. Off the field, the 36th overall pick is showing leadership on social media. Check out @derekcarrqb's Twitter feed where he reached out to each of the seven Raider draft picks, congratulating his new teammates.

3. Will G Gabe Jackson show the promise of a future starter during Rookie Mini-Camp?

The Raiders third-round pick was a 52-game starter at Mississippi State and earned first-team All-America honors in 2013. Jackson will compete with the likes of veterans Khalif Barnes (10th season) and Kevin Boothe (9th season) who have almost 20 years in combined NFL experience among others for playing time. The former Bulldog mauler was credited with 294 pancake blocks and 47 blocks that led to touchdowns.

4. Is CB Keith McGill the next Richard Sherman?

Crazy comparison? Maybe not. Both cornerbacks were mid-round picks, McGill in the fourth and Sherman in the fifth (2011). They were both also selected out of the Pac-12, McGill (Utah) and Sherman (Stanford). Finally, both corners use their size against opposing receivers. Keith McGill and Richard Sherman both stand at 6'3" tall but the rookie outweighs the All-Pro by 16 pounds (211 pounds).

5. How will DT Justin Ellis impact the run defense?

In 2013, the Raiders run defense ranked 13th in the NFL. General Manager Reggie McKenzie beefed up the trenches with this fourth-round pick in Justin Ellis. The defensive tackle from Louisiana Tech is 6'1" and weighs in at 334 pounds. Nicknamed "Jelly," his weight has fluctuated in the past, once up to 390 pounds.

So how will Jelly keep his weight down? "Keep him away from home," McKenzie said. "He's home with mama and the family. These guys are young 22 year-olds. He's not going to go around eating salads all day. He'll get here, he'll get in a nutrition plan and he'll be fine."

Ellis will join Pat Sims, Antonio Smith, and Stacy McGee in a defensive tackle rotation
that just got deeper and bigger.

6. Can seventh-round pick TJ Carrie be the next punt returner for the Raiders?

Carrie led the MAC in punt return average at 12.7, probably his ticket to making Raiders 53-man roster if he can stay healthy. — Jerry McDonald (@Jerrymcd) May 10, 2014

Oakland's first pick of the seventh round was All-MAC first team at punt returner for the Ohio Bobcats who went to De La Salle high school and is originally from Antioch, CA. Carrie ran track against fellow Antioch-native and Raiders special teams ace Taiwan Jones who attended Deer Valley High School. TJ's 40-yard dash was timed at 4.45 seconds.

7. What will DE Shelby Harris do with a fresh start?

Reggie McKenzie took a seventh-round flier on Shelby Harris. In 2012, he racked up 85 tackles, seven sacks, and 16 tackles for loss, recognized as All-Missouri Valley Football Conference. But dismissed from the team and missed all of 2013. Can the rookie take advantage of the opportunity to learn from pros like Justin Tuck and Lamarr Woodley?

So excited to be apart of #raidernation — Shelby Harris (@ShelbyHarris93) May 10, 2014

8. Could Safety Jonathan Dowling be the steal of the Raiders draft class?

Oakland's final draft pick of 2014 is an intriguing safety from Western Kentucky. Jonathan Dowling is a former 4-star recruit who transferred from Florida after being cut as a true freshman. The 6'3", 200 pound defensive back led the NCAA with six forced fumbles in 2013 and is a rangy, hard-hitting ball hawk who can soak up unlimited knowledge from veterans like Charles Woodson and Tyvon Branch.

I think #Raiders S Jonathan Dowling (7th round) from Western Ky will end up being one of the steals of the draft. — Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) May 15, 2014

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