Raiders Friday Mailbag: Cornerbacks Battle, Streater Looks to Return to Form

Earlier this week we took to social media and asked Raider Nation to submit questions about the season ahead.

You had great questions and Raiders.com has answers, so without further ado, let's get to the mailbag.

From Facebook:

From Scott T: You go back through history the Raiders always had a shutdown corner. We don't have one now when are we going to get that?

EP:By not bringing in a cornerback through free agency or in the early stages of the Draft, General Manger Reggie McKenzie made it clear that he's going to see what he has with the young corners that he currently has on the roster.

After bringing in a carousel of veterans cornerbacks the past few seasons, McKenzie is going young in 2015.

This is a big year for DJ Hayden, and McKenzie is hopeful that either he, TJ Carrie or Keith McGill can prove they have the ability to be a lockdown-type corner.

From John S: Any chance Justin "Jelly" Ellis makes the pro bowl?

EP:Pro Bowl might be a lofty goal with Ellis having to compete against interior lineman like Marcell Dareus, Dontari Poe and Ndamukong Suh. However, Ellis was impressive during his rookie campaign, starting 14 games for the Silver and Black, recording 39 tackles (21 solo), one pass defensed as well as earning a spot on Sports Illustrated's All-Rookie Team. He and Dan Williams could prove to be quite the force in the middle of the Raiders defensive line.

From Jose J:What was last year's reason for not being able to run the ball? The O line or the RB's?

EP:Well, I think it was a little bit of both. As the season progressed it became evident that Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew didn't have as much left in the tank as previously thought, but some instability on the right side offensive line surely didn't help their causes.

However, going into 2015 the Raiders are hopeful that offensive line coach Mike Tice will be able to harness more out of the group of lineman, and that a stable of young Raiders running backs like Latavius Murray, Trent Richardson and Roy Helu, Jr. will be able to get the ground game back up and running in Oakland.

From Twitter:

From @Caughtleader866: @RAIDERS will McGill play a bigger role in the secondary next year?

EP:He's going to have to. McGill appeared in 12 games during his rookie season, starting the final game of the season – and scoring a defensive touchdown in the process. However, with the youth movement going on at cornerback, McGill is set to see more snaps in the defensive rotation 2015 along with cornerback Neiko Thorpe.

Another thing to keep in mind, standing at 6'3" and weighing in at 211 pounds, McGill boasts the type of size that is becoming common in this modern NFL.

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From @CalMettert**: @RAIDERS Will the facility upgrades (weight room, etc.) be ready by preseason games?

EP:The team's facility has been undergoing upgrades all offseason. The building has a new set of paint and there are updated graphics adorning the walls of the team auditorium and meeting rooms, but to answer your question, yes. The new weight room and practice fields are scheduled to be completed before the team returns from training camp in Napa.

From @donaldday0129: @RAIDERS can you see Mack and Moore as our defensive ends of the future with Edwards?

EP:By using a second-round pick on Edwards, the hope certainly is that he develops into the defensive end of the future. As for Mack, he and the coaching staff haven't really disclosed where the stud linebacker will be lining up in 2015, but regardless of whether he has his hand in the dirt or not, he will be expected to supply consistent pressure to the quarterback. While he only had four sacks in 2014, he certainly has all the intangibles to do just that. I expect his sack numbers to be much higher in 2015.

Photos of linebacker Khalil Mack's rookie season with the Oakland Raiders.

From @Babz850: @RAIDERS How much better do you think the lines (off and def) can be compared to last year?

EP:Let's address the offensive line first – Head Coach Del Rio has been vocal about his praise for center Rodney Hudson, and his ability to command and control an offensive line. The left side of the line is set with tackle Donald Penn and guard Gabe Jackson. Austin Howard is moving back to his natural position at right tackle, but the entire right side is open for competition, and that's not a bad thing.

Now for the defense. The big issue for the Raiders defensive line is going to be getting to the quarterback. In a division with Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Alex Smith you simply have to get to the quarterback, and I think everyone would agree the 22 sacks the unit produced in 2014 isn't good enough. If Justin Tuck, Khalil Mack and company can find a way to bring down the opposing quarterback more regularly in 2015, it would be considered a win.

From @RomeoDaLoveKing: With the defense expected to be very good and a young athletic offense do you think this team can steal a wildcard spot?

EP:It's the offseason and everybody is still undefeated, so sure, why not?

That being said, several things are going to have to bounce in the Silver and Black's favor for that to happen. First and foremost, the heavy hitters [Carr, Mack, etc.] have to stay healthy. After that, the team has to get off to a hot start. Navigating the AFC West is no easy task, and dropping games early in the season would prove challenging to a young Raiders team.

Regardless of whether or not the team makes the playoffs, I expect the Raiders to be playing meaningful games in December – something that hasn't happened in quite a while.

From @VeganJanel:@RAIDERS Do you see @rodstreater80 having a breakout season?

EP:Breakout? Maybe not. Bounce-back? Absolutely.

Streater already proved in 2013 that he can be a valuable asset, hauling in 60 receptions for 888 yards and four touchdowns, but after missing nearly all of 2014 he definitely has something to prove this season, especially with a new coaching staff in Oakland.

With Streater's return and the addition of Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper, Derek Carr should be a happy camper heading into the season.

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From @JapanYB:** @RAIDERS how long you think before M.Dyer and Murray takeover the back field? Especially Dyer.

EP:At this point, it sure seems like it's Murray's job to lose. Granted his sample size in 2014 was small, but Murray made the most of his opportunities last year and showed he deserved a shot to be the No. 1 guy for the Raiders in 2015.

As it stands, the backfield in Oakland is crowded with Murray, Trent Richardson and Roy Helu, Jr. all vying for snaps, and you can't forget about fullback Marcel Reece either. If you just look at the numbers, Michael Dyer has an uphill battle ahead of him, but you never know what can happen when the team gets to Napa and puts on the pads.

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