Terrelle Pryor and the Oakland Raiders 2013 Projected Offensive Starters
Elias Trejo – May 3, 2013
The NFL Draft is over and the Raiders have ten new players to add to the roster. Odds are all of the drafted players will make the roster and perhaps a few undrafted free agents will also make the roster as well. There are plenty of new faces in Oakland this season and that is stirring up a conversation about who may or may not start. Below I have listed the players that I think will start at each position. Of course you'll probably find that there will be a few surprises as the competition for the starting spots heat up in camp. So I myself will add a few surprises. Here we go.
Quarterback - Terrelle Pryor
People can talk about the QB competition all they want and odds are Matt Flynn is expected to be the starter by many, including the coaches and Reggie McKenzie. I expect Pryor to come in ready to compete and I also expect him to have improved enough to make the competition close. I don't believe Flynn will be that much better than Pryor and Pryor's ability to keep plays alive will help him win the starting spot. Pryor has to seize the opportunity and Oakland has to be willing to take a chance on him. If he doesn't work out, they'd have Flynn ready to go behind Pryor. I believe this is the opportunity Pryor has been waiting for and I expect him to win it.
Running Backs: Darren McFadden and Marcel Reece
McFadden and Reece are the two best weapons on the Raiders offense. Having them both on the field will give defenses a lot to worry about. Returning to the power run game will allow McFadden to play within his strengths. Reece is a solid full back that does a lot more than lead block for McFadden. Both players are dangerous in the passing game and if used properly the Raiders offense will look much better and balanced in 2013.
Offensive Tackles: Jared Veldheer and Menelik Watson
The Raiders added Watson with their second pick of the draft. Watson is a very raw tackle who has the athletic ability to one day become a solid left tackle. Right now Watson would make a good right tackle and I believe he will beat out Khalif Barnes for the position. Veldheer has the left tackle position locked down and I don't know if I see him losing it anytime soon. I expect Watson and Vehdleer to be anchors for our offensive line for years to come.
Center: Stefen Wisniewski
Wisniewski will make the Pro Bowl in 2013. That's right. Make sure you write this down. Put on the film of Wisniewski and you'll find one of the best centers in the league. The change in blocking scheme for the Raiders will amplify his talent and allow him to put a solid year together. It also helps that the offensive line around him will be much improved as well. I expect a great year out of Wisniewski.
Guards: Tony Bergstrom and Khalif Barnes
Bergstrom was the first pick in the McKenzie Era for the Raiders. I expect him to improve enough this year become a starter at guard. He should have played more last year with Mike Brisiel's injury, but they let Brisiel play too long. I don't believe Brisiel will win a starting spot in 2013. He took a $1.65 million pay cut to stay on the roster this season. Barnes will lose his starting spot at tackle to Watson despite playing well in 2013. He'll be too valuable to sit on the bench next year so they'll move him to guard. This will make Oakland's offensive line bigger, stronger and more physical.
Tight End: Richard Gordon
I know the Raiders took two tight end's in the draft, but that doesn't mean they'll be starters in 2013. Gordon is the best blocking tight end on the roster right now and blocking will be valuable for the running game. He is not much of a threat in the passing game, but I expect the Raiders to have a four man rotation at tight end in 2013 until one or two guys step up and show they can be the full time tight end.
Wide Receivers: Denarius Moore and Rod Streater
Oakland is still looking for a reciever to prove himself as a true No. 1 guy. Both Streater and Moore showed promise in 2012 and with Darrius Heyward-Bey out of the picture I expect their production to increase in 2013. Streater may become the most consistent reciever for the Raiders this season. Moore isn't a playmaker, but he just makes plays. Behind them will be Jacoby Ford and Juron Criner. I see both of them producing decent numbers next season as well, but Streater and Moore should win the starting spots for Oakland.
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