Behind Enemy Lines: A look at the Raiders

A look at this weekend's matchup with the help of Silver and Black Report's Chris McClain. Find out if Derek Carr is poised to make a jump this year ... if Amari Cooper is the next big thing at wide receiver ... the future of the Raiders organization and more inside.

Brad Wilbricht: With a very respectable rookie campaign under his belt, how is QB Derek Carr progressing? Is he ready to make the jump to an elite quarterback or is that still a year or two away?

Chris McClain: Derek Carr has been progressing very nicely throughout the offseason. He is a confident kid that is always the first one in and the last one out. He certainly has some better weapons around him, though he may be a year or two away from truly being "elite". While I think he will be better, I don't know if he will cross the "elite" threshold just yet.

A lot will depend on if he can get some time from the offensive line, especially the right side. The left side of the offensive line is shored up nicely, but the right side remains a question mark. His passer rating and completion rate will certainly be better this season.

BW: There have been some extremely successful rookie wide receivers of late such as Odell Beckham Jr. and Mike Evans. Is Amari Cooper the next in line? Does he have a legitimate shot at surpassing 1,000 yards receiving in his first NFL season?

CM: There's no doubt that Amari Cooper has the potential to be the next extremely successful rookie wide receiver. Cooper's footwork is phenomenal and his hands are so soft you can barely here him hauling in the pass. I certainly think surpassing the 1,000-yard mark, which will be quite the feat given the Raiders haven't had a 1,000-yard receiver since Randy Moss did it in 2005.

The question is how offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave will use him. Musgrave will certainly look to to establish the run, but he also has shown that he wants to get his young playmaker going early. In week one of preseason, Cooper was involved in three of the first five plays ran from scrimmage.

BW: When looking at the Raiders' running back depth chart, I see quite a mixture of names with Latavius Murray on top. Will Murray end up being a true workhorse or will some of the new additions such as Trent Richardson and Roy Helu also make an impact?

CM: The Raiders running back position has been one of the most interesting positions throughout training camp. Latavius Murray has shown that he can be relied on by the Raiders and continues to build on a strong end to last season. I think he will see roughly 75 percent of the carries.

Roy Helu, Jr. has been tough to gauge since he has been out with injury but I do think he will be an integral piece to the Raiders offense. While Murray is more than capable at receiving passes out of the backfield, the Raiders may want to use Helu as a third-down back. Trent Richardson has struggled this offseason, despite coming in with at the best weight he's been at since his Alabama days. He is truly in danger of losing his roster spot to rookie running back Michael Dyer who has looked good.

BW: I haven't heard a whole lot of buzz surrounding the Oakland defense. Who are the players to watch out for and can anyone from this unit emerge as a dominate defender?

CM: The Raiders defense has quietly been going about their business, with the exception of the cornerbacks. D.J. Hayden has struggled on offense, but TJ Carrie has looked good. You may end up seeing Keith McGill take over Hayden's spot in the end.

The best assets from the Raiders defense come from their front seven. The Raider feature two big-bodied defensive tackles in Justin "Jelly" Ellis and Dan Williams. With those two big bodies in the middle, their rush defense looks to be much better.

Their linebacking corps also looks to be much deeper and much improved from last season. Of course, their standout will be linebacker Khalil Mack who will also appear quite a bit at defensive end with his hand in the ground. Mack is stellar against the run, but now looks like he could hit double-digit sack numbers with some help on the defensive line where he won't have to be double teamed.

BW: What is your take on the future of the Raiders franchise? Will they be staying in Oakland or do you suspect they will move to Los Angeles?

CM: I imagine this will be the question throughout the season, as it was all last year too. The only difference now is that we know much more than we did last season. Developer Floyd Kephart presented his final development plan for Coliseum City to Oakland and Alameda County last week, and spoke on Tuesday stating he is confident it will work. That said, he also says there's a '50-50' shot that it will actually happen, also citing the fact that it isn't a quick build and would likely take 10-15 years to complete.

That said, it seems like the NFL is quite interested in moving a team (or two) to Los Angeles, and it appears the Raiders remain the most likely. The Chargers have the most backing in their current city for a new stadium, while we all know the Rams owner is beginning the building process in Hollywood Park. Meanwhile, the City of Oakland is struggling to get anything done and owner Mark Davis appears more-than-willing to move the team back the LA.


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