Last season, the Raiders didn’t get a lot of help from their rookie class. In terms of their draft picks, it was third round guard Dylan Parham and…that’s it. That will not be the case this season.
In fact, they may have no choice but to throw their rookies into action for today’s season opener against the Broncos.
At the time of the draft, it was apparent second round tight end Michael Mayer would be making an immediate impact. He could be an immediate starter and/or see significant time and targets along with veteran Austin Hooper.
Since then, it has become clear Mayer won’t be the only rookie the team will be leaning on heavily early.
In the day leading up to today’s season opener in Denver, the Raiders officially announced they would be without Chandler Jones and Brandon Facyson. Both of whom may have otherwise started the opener.
Jones is having some personal issues that had led to some very concerning social media posts and had him away from the team all this week. While Facyson was placed on injured reserve with a shin injury, making him unavailable for at least four games.
The plan was to move rookie seventh overall pick Tyree Wilson along slowly, but Jones’s absence bumps up that timetable. Now it’s possible Wilson could get the start and at very least will split time with third year edge rusher Malcolm Koonce.
Among the potential starters at outside cornerback opposite Marcus Peters is rookie fourth round pick Jakorian Bennett.
That’s three rookies who could start and/or see major roles right away.
“I’m excited to see those guys all go out there and compete and do their jobs,” Josh McDaniels said of the rookies. “Everything won’t be perfect, there’s no question about that, opening day never is. We’re in an imperfect sport. So, we’ll learn as much from these games and what they’re doing and not doing as anything else we’ve done. It’ll be a great opportunity for any young player.”
It’s far less certain whether we will see much from the rest of their rookie class. None of the other drafted rookies put themselves in a position to start or ensure significant minutes and no undrafted rookies made the team this year.