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Raiders Mailbag: Which rookies are in line to make an early impact in Training Camp?

James McCray from Pennsylvania asks:

"Do you think Byron Young can earn a role on this defensive line?"

On the defensive side of the ball, Byron Young is the rookie that stood out to me the most throughout rookie minicamp and OTAs.

For one, he's massive. He posses great size and muscle mass for an interior defensive lineman, carrying his 6-foot-3, 292-pound frame well. He also moves with good fluidity and technique for someone his size. Additionally, he's played in some big games against elite competition in college. He played in 45 games at the University of Alabama, with a national championship under his belt.

"Big, physical kid, long arms, he's does a really nice job of being able to create leverage inside and control running lanes," General Manager Dave Ziegler said of Young after the draft. "A little bit early down pass rush too right now, I think he can develop more than that, but he has some first-step quickness and because of his length, it makes it hard for a lot of those guards to handle him inside. ... Also, foundation traits – hard worker, smart, tough, dependable, loves football. A lot of the traits that we're looking for."

While it's hard to fully evaluate anyone without pads on, Young has looked impressive so far. The rookie has put himself in a good position to compete for a rotational or starting role once Training Camp begins.

Tyler Sweeney from Idaho asks:

"What is the tight end situation looking like?"

There are a lot of questions still surrounding the tight end room following the trade of Darren Waller. Nevertheless, the Raiders have seemed to put together a well-rounded unit at the position this offseason.

They began by making two attractive free agent signings with Austin Hooper and O.J. Howard. Howard has great size for the position, physically resembling a defensive lineman rather than a tight end. Barring any health issues, he could find a role for himself.

As for Hooper, he's been one of the more underrated tight ends since entering the league in 2016, in my opinion. The two-time Pro Bowler has only missed one game in the past two seasons, racking up five touchdowns and nearly 800 receiving yards in that span.

One to watch in Raiders tight end room could actually be second-round pick Michael Mayer. He brings arguably the the most decorated college career of any rookie on the roster, and has all the tools that could lead to great success in the future.

"Michael really is what we thought he was," Josh McDaniels said during OTAs. "A really hard worker, great teammate, tries to get better every single day, very attentive in the meetings, works at his technique very hard, wants to know how he can get better as being a pro. A lot of these rookies come in and everything they're learning for the first time, and Michael is doing a great job of really trying to acclimate himself."

Daniel Dumbrique asks:

"Do you think Aidan O'Connell has chance to beat out Hoyer as QB2?"

As Ziegler and McDaniels always preach, everyone has an opportunity to earn their spot on the roster.

Both Aidan O'Connell and Brian Hoyer bring desired attributes to the quarterback position for the Raiders. The rookie quarterback out of Purdue has a quick release to his throws, with solid arm strength and good accuracy. As for Hoyer, he's a great communicator that knows McDaniels' offensive system well.

Any unofficial depth charts won't be released until the team's first preseason game, but the Raiders head coach is confident the grizzled veteran will push the entire room to greater heights in Training Camp.

"I've obviously known Brian [Hoyer] for a while, and Brian is a true pro," McDaniels said in early June. "Really does a great job of understanding his assignment, also understanding how he may help others. He's been in a role as a backup quarterback for a number of years, so he understands what the responsibility is in that position and takes full advantage of every opportunity that he has when he has repetitions, and he's getting a lot of them now and able to function in our system.

"Look, their responsibility is to give the other 10 guys an opportunity to do their job well, and Brian does that very well."

I recently went further into depth on the quarterback room in our annual Position Breakdown series. Click here to check it out.

The Las Vegas Raiders and Fanatics hosted 600 youth community members at Intermountain Health Performance Center for the opportunity to participate in football drills and receive free Raiders gear.

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