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Which Oakland Raiders Are Ready to Make the Second-Year Leap?

With a combined 94 appearances and 63 starts last season, the Raiders 2014 Draft Class made an immediate impact on the field for the Silver and Black.

General Manager Reggie McKenzie successfully added numerous pieces to the core of the Raiders roster in 2014, as well as a strong foundation on both the offensive and defensive side of the football.

However, as the team heads into the 2015 campaign and beyond, the Silver and Black will rely on the development of the class of 2014.

With that being said, let's review the seven-man draft class and take a look at what to expect from them in 2015.

First Round (No. 5 overall) – Linebacker Khalil Mack

2014 Recap:Mack's rookie season was widely considered a success, as he started all 16 games, ranking first among NFL 4-3 outside linebackers in overall (56.4) and run-defense (47.4) according to Pro Football Focus. He also earned numerous awards including being named the midseason Defensive Rookie of the Year by ESPN's "NFL Live," as well as earning a spot on Sports Illustrated's All-Rookie Team.

2015 Outlook:Entering his second season in the league, Mack must increase his sack numbers. The Buffalo product showed the athletic ability to regularly apply pressure to the quarterback, but in 2015 Mack must increase his sack total of 4.0 from his rookie year. If Mack wants to be considered an elite pass rusher, which he has the ability to be, his sack numbers are going to have to near the double digits.

Second Round (No. 36 overall) – Quarterback Derek Carr

2014 Recap:With their second-round selection, the Raiders were hopeful they found their franchise quarterback in Carr, and the former Fresno State Bulldog did not disappoint in 2014, becoming the first quarterback in franchise history to start in Week One for the Silver and Black. Carr started all 16 games for the Raiders last season, going 348-of-599 (58.1 percent) with 3,270 passing yards, 21 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a passer rating of 76.6, and finished the season ranked second all-time in completions and attempts by a rookie.

2015 Outlook:For the first time in over a decade, the Silver and Black have their franchise quarterback. There's no doubt that the Raiders are Carr's team going forward, but in order for the team to notch some more tallies in the win column in 2015 Carr must show improvement in his second year, namely with his yards per attempt – 5.5 during his rookie campaign.

Third Round (No. 81 overall) – Guard Gabe Jackson

2014 Recap:After a strong showing in training camp and the preseason, Jackson earned the starting role at left guard for the Silver and Black. Jackson appeared in 13 games during his rookie year, making 12 starts.

2015 Outlook:According to offensive line coach Mike Tice, Jackson has had the best offseason out of anybody on the offensive line.

"I think a guy that's had the best offseason of everybody, and that's Gabe Jackson out of Mississippi State," said Coach Tice. "[I've] had some familiarity with him in the Senior Bowl two years ago, when we coached the Senior Bowl when I was in Atlanta, he was on the opposing team and I got to spend some time with him. Gabe is a big, athletic, strong -- great football background. His dad was a high school football coach. I think he's a rising star. I think he has a chance to be a really good one."

Heading into 2015, Jackson and left tackle Donald Penn form a formidable left side of the Raiders offensive line.


Fourth Round (No. 107 Overall) – Defensive Tackle Justin Ellis**

2014 Recap:The powerful defensive tackle earned a starting job on the defensive line Week Three and became engrained in the starting lineup for the remainder of the season. He recorded 39 tackles (21 solo) with one pass defensed and was named to Sports Illustrated's All-Rookie Team.

2015 Outlook:Ellis has demonstrated he has the talent and physical ability to be a quality defensive tackle in the NFL, now he and newly-acquired defensive tackle Dan Williams must demonstrate that they can apply pressure up the middle to the opposing quarterback.

Fourth Round (No. 116 Overall) – Cornerback Keith McGill

2014 Recap:McGill appeared in 12 games and started the final game of the 2014 season against the Denver Broncos. During that game, he recorded seven tackles (five solo) and two passes defensed, and also scored his first career touchdown, recovering a Peyton Manning lateral and returning it for 18 yards.

2015 Outlook:With the Raiders going young at cornerback in 2015, the former Utah Ute figures to see time in the cornerback rotation. Whether that is as a starter or not remains to be seen.

Seventh Round (No. 219 Overall) – Cornerback TJ Carrie

2014 Recap: The seventh rounder saw significant time during his rookie season on both defense and special teams, appearing in 13 games with four starts. He totaled 48 tackles (40 solo), one interception, 12 passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery as well as returning 26 punts for 195 yards (7.5 avg.).  He also returned 15 kickoffs for 362 yards (24.1 avg.).

2015 Outlook:Carrie proved to be one of the steals of the 2014 Draft Class for McKenzie and the Raiders. He proved he can be a viable option out wide, and a year of on-field experience will only help the young cornerback.

Seventh Round (No. 235 Overall) – Defensive End Shelby Harris

2014 Recap: Harris spent the majority of his rookie season on the Raiders practice squad, but did appear in one game, registering two tackles.

2015 Outlook: On a crowded defensive line, Harris will have to show that he deserves time in the defensive rotation.

Seventh Round (No. 247 Overall) – Safety Jonathan Dowling

2014 Recap:Dowling appeared in seven games as a rookie, registering three tackles (two solo) before being placed on injured reserve with a back injury on December 6.

2015 Outlook:Boasting good size at 6'3'' and 190 pounds, Dowling should challenge for playing time in the Raiders secondary. If Dowling is looking to make a more immediate impact, he could also find his way onto the field on the Raiders special teams unit.

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