Reggie McKenzie’s 2013 Draft Class Faces Pivotal Season

Entering his fourth season as general manager, Reggie McKenzie is excited about what he considers to be his best roster since joining the Raiders.

By recent standards, expectations are high in Oakland. Derek Carr, Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack have given the Raiders a superstar appeal that has been lacking for a decade. That’s the good news.

The bad news (albeit not that bad) is the roster still appears to be a year away from breaking through the AFC West. If the Raiders are going to make waves in the division, it may well come down to McKenzie’s 2013 draft.


While some of the 2013 class is gone, the Raiders will lean heavily in 2015 on five third-year players – at key positions.

  1. DJ Hayden: Reggie McKenzie said he would have drafted him third overall in 2013 (had he not traded the pick), but Hayden has looked more like a mid-round talent after two seasons. Finally healthy, Hayden has been cast into the startling lineup with just 10 NFL starts on his resume. If Hayden struggles, things could become complicated – the Raiders haven’t shown great depth at CB in preseason.
  2. Menelik Watson: One of this year’s preseason surprises, Watson has held on to his job at right tackle despite the fact that his backup (Austin Howard) is on the second year of a 5 year, $30 million deal. Watson has been impressive as a run blocker and hasn’t stood out as a liability in pass protection.
  3. Sio Moore (hip) was injured for most of training camp and the coaches may be getting impatient. Yesterday, Jack Del Rio said Moore is “competing to be a role player somewhere.” Most likely a motivational tactic from Del Rio? It will be a huge disappointment if Moore doesn’t emerge as a starter.
  4. Latavius Murray: For all the conversation about Hayden, Murray might be the most important player on this list. By far the best running back on the roster, Murray could be in for a huge season if he can stay healthy. His combination of size, speed, and vision is something Raider fans should be excited about.
  5. Mychal Rivera emerged as one of Derek Carr’s favorite targets down the stretch in 2014. The Raiders plan to incorporate more two tight end sets and the dual threat of Rivera and Clive Walford could be a nightmare for opposing coaches to defend.

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