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Raiders' Roster Full Of Role Models For New Additions


Defensive End Khalil Mack and Defensive Lineman Jihad Ward

As it stands now, the Raiders have 37 rookies and first-year players on their 90-man roster.

Being a rookie in the NFL can be intimidating at times. Rookies are often in a new city, surrounded by players they don't know, trying to assimilate to a new organization, all while getting used to the speed and physicality of the NFL game.

These young players aren't going through the process alone though, as there are players already on the Raiders' roster they can look to for inspiration and guidance.

Here are four of them.

Defensive end Jihad Ward – Defensive end Khalil Mack

When Khalil Mack arrived in Oakland, he was a soft-spoken rookie with big expectations attached to him.

Like Mack, Jihad Ward is rather soft-spoken and chooses his words carefully when giving interviews. The similarities don't stop there, as the Raiders will also be expecting big things from Ward along the defensive line in 2016 and beyond.

Mack has without question warmed up to the media over his two-plus seasons in Oakland – as Ward probably will as well – and in addition to learning from Mack's plethora of pass rush moves, Ward can also take note of how to carry himself off the field, fielding media requests, and being a good teammate, which is equally as important for a player the franchise has big hopes for.

Wide receiver Max McCaffrey – Wide receiver Seth Roberts

Max McCaffrey is under no illusions – as an undrafted free agent, he knows that he's facing an uphill climb to make the team's final 53-man roster.

However, what he's trying to accomplish is definitely attainable, as Seth Roberts – an undrafted free agent himself – earned a promotion to the active roster in 2016, after spending a season on the Practice Squad. He turned into a major contributor as well, finishing the season as the team's No. 3 receiver, hauling in 32 receptions for 480 yards and five touchdowns.

"It's really nice knowing that," said McCaffrey when asked about Roberts' success. "Seth too has been an incredible help on and off the field, just with plays and such, so it's definitely nice to see that."

With as many talented wide receivers as the Raiders currently have, it'll be a challenge for McCaffrey to crack the active roster, but the former Duke Blue Devil should follow Roberts' lead and know that it's not an unattainable feat he's striving for.

Quarterback Connor Cook – Quarterback Matt McGloin

In addition to both being former-Big Ten quarterbacks, Connor Cook and Matt McGloin also share something else in common – realistically, the pair will be competing to be the No. 2 quarterback on the Raiders' depth chart in 2016.

The selection of Cook in the fourth round (No. 100 overall) definitely raised some eyebrows, but both General Manager Reggie McKenzie and Head Coach Jack Del Rio have said that Carr is their starter for 2016 and beyond.

"Derek's our quarterback," McKenzie said following Day Three of the NFL Draft. "Whoever we bring in, we're just looking [at] can he help us? Can he add to the depth? That was the only reason we went after him [Cook]."

So what can Cook learn from McGloin as they battle it out for the right to be the No. 2 quarterback in 2016?

First off, preparation.

Since Carr has become the starting quarterback, McGloin has appeared in a trio of games in Carr's relief, and since his arrival in the Bay Area, he has been lauded by players and coaches alike for the way he prepares for games.

 Linebacker Shilique Calhoun – Outside linebacker Bruce Irvin

For both Calhoun and Irvin, versatility is the name of their games.

During his four-year run in Seattle, Irvin was used primarily as a coverage linebacker, but also showed the ability to put his hand in the dirt and get after the quarterback, and now that he's wearing  Silver and Black, defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr., is determined to use him more in a pass-rushing role.

Similarly, Calhoun flashed his versatility in college, and his ability to be multiple is something that the Raiders' coaching staff covets.

Norton's defense will assuredly allow Calhoun to flash that versatility, and whether he has his hand in the dirt or he's standing upright, the similarities between he and Irvin should become more evident as the season wears on. The rookie will be wise to take note of how the veteran outside linebacker goes about his business.

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