Best-Case Scenario for Each Oakland Raiders Rookie

Daniel Mano HerberholzCorrespondent IJuly 6, 2012

Best-Case Scenario for Each Oakland Raiders Rookie

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    Each rookie drafted or signed by the Oakland Raiders has a floor and a ceiling, a best-case and worst-case scenario.

    This is particularly true with the new regime in Oakland.

    What GM Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen are trying to build might take more than a single offseason, but the rookies they brought in this year are the beginning of that construction.

    Some are more surefire, like Juron Criner and Jack Crawford. Others are long shots, like Eddy Carmona and Kyle Efaw.

    Who will make the squad? Let's find out.

WR Juron Criner

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    Injuries obviously aren't good, but the fact that Juron Criner had one last year allowed him to fall to the fifth round of this year's draft.

    The Oakland Raiders snatched up the receiver, who was a first-round prospect a year ago before an undisclosed injury as a senior.

    Criner may not be the prototypical Al Davis wideout, but he has the tools Davis never appreciated: slow but strong, a jumper who can snag red-zone balls.

    The Arizona product was impressive in camp and seems to be soaking up knowledge for the Raiders' young, but talented receivers.

    Best-case scenario for Criner is six leaping touchdowns and jumping ahead of Louis Murphy on the depth chart. 

WRs Derek Carrier, Brandon Carswell, Thomas Mayo, Rod Streater, Travionte Session

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    With all that being said about Juron Criner, the future doesn't look so good for the rest of the Oakland Raiders' rookie wideouts.

    Criner already joins a stellar young receiving corps, including Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford, Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey.

    For Derek Carrier, Brandon Carswell, Thomas Mayo, Rod Streater and Travionte Session, the best-case scenario certainly is making the roster.

    Usually NFL teams don't carry more than six wideouts on the regular roster, so these guys will be fighting for special teams play.

    If even one of those five makes a few plays during the season, Oakland will be happy.

OG Tony Bergstrom

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    Reggie McKenzie and the new Oakland Raiders brass is big on Tony Bergstrom.

    The offensive lineman may have been a third-round pick, but the Raiders seem to believe he could have gone much higher and they were fortunate to have him fall to No. 95.

    With the O-line changing to a zone-blocking format, Bergstrom has the potential to make an impact this season.

    Coach Dennis Allen said Bergstrom has the athleticism to fit into the scheme, and his build (6'6", 315 lbs.) and experience (three years starting at Utah) only add to the possibility. 

    Don't be surprised if he's starting by the second half of the year.

DT Christo Bilukidi

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    With the Oakland Raiders having a need at defensive tackle, Christo Bilukidi is already in a great position to make an impact.

    It also helps he's in the mold of the usual draft pick of both Al Davis and Reggie McKenzie, the former because he's very fast (4.49 40-yard dash), the latter because he was a late-round gem.

    As the San Francisco Chronicle's Vittorio Tafur points out here, Bilukidi's college coach was NFL player Bill Curry—and Curry always knew Bilukidi could make an impact in the league.

    If Bilukidi does, he'll wind up with four sacks and a few more tackles for loss.

LB Miles Burris

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    An Oakland Raiders fan his whole life, Roseville, Calif., native Miles Burris has a chance at making himself proud while wearing Silver and Black.

    Burris is flexible when it comes to linebacking position, which is huge since the Raiders are switching to a 3-4 defense.

    "I'm excited about Miles," defensive coordinator Jason Tarver told the Sacramento Bee. "I would love to put him in the mix with these linebackers and (have him) compete."

    Throwing Burris in to compete could work to the linebacker's advantage, since he's a workout warrior, which the Raiders tend to draft.

    Especially if Rolando McClain can't continue to develop, Burris could become a linebacker of the future. Best-case scenario, he tallies three sacks, grabs an interception and forces a fumble.

The Diamonds in the Rough

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    Plain and simple, the best these rookies can do is to make the Oakland Raiders roster.

    On defense, that goes for safeties Aaron Henry and Chaz Powell, defensive lineman Dominique Hamilton and Wayne Dorsey, linebackers Kaelin Burnett and Mario Kurn. Offensively, O-linemen Dan Knapp and Lucas Nix fall into the category, as well as quarterback Kyle Newhall-Caballero and tight end Kyle Efaw.

    Reggie McKenzie is all about undrafted talent, particularly on defense, but those diamonds-in-the-rough tend to need time to develop.

    Furthermore, while the Raiders have some holes to fill, there isn't dramatic room for randoms to walk off the street and suit up for many snaps (except at DB).

    If a couple of these guys pan out, and/or if one can seriously contribute, Oakland will be lucky.

    As for the rooks, they'll be lucky to be on the 53-man roster come August.

CB Conroy Black

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    Of all the rookie cornerbacks vying for a gig with the Oakland Raiders, Conroy Black has the best shot.

    Undoubtedly Dennis Allen, who once vastly improved the New Orleans Saints' secondary, will be working hard with all 15 defensive backs currently signed by the team.

    And he'll be looking for the skill set to fill in as a nickelback.

    Black seems to have those hand skills, as he showed while starting last year at Utah, which earned him All-Pac-12 honors.

    Black playing significant time in the secondary and swiping a couple interceptions will be considered a success this season.

K Eddy Carmona and P Marquette King

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    Two Pro Bowl kickers on the team doesn't bode well for rookies Eddy Carmona and Marquette King.

    The kicker and punter, respectively, will no doubt be learning a bunch from Sebastian Janikowski and Shane Lechler in camp and, if they stay on the roster, during the season.

    If Carmona and King are lucky, they'll be training to replace S-Bass and Lechler in a few years. That's assuming the two veterans leave the Oakland Raiders any time soon.

    In a way, the best-case scenario for the Raiders is that these two players don't go make an impact somewhere else if kickers elsewhere get injured.

DE Jack Crawford

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    New head coach Dennis Allen, a defensive specialist, is high on defensive end Jack Crawford, which puts his potential impact at a premium.

    Allen doesn't just think Crawford will find his way onto the field.

    "I think we’re going to be able to define a pretty good role for him," Allen said (h/t CSN BayArea).

    For Bay Area fans, recent rookie-turned-phenom Aldon Smith comes to mind. Now, Crawford's skill set may be different than Smith's, but the point is that Crawford is set to make an impact in a unique way.

    Crawford could end up with as many as eight sacks and 50-plus tackles if he pans out as Allen envisions.

LB Nathan Stupar

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    The nephew of former Oakland Raiders QB Jeff Hostetler, rookie Nathan Stupar will try to make his uncle proud.

    Stupar was a seventh-round selection and followed Penn State teammate Jack Crawford to Oakland—albeit with a better knowledge of Raider Nation.

    Stupar's abilities to find the ball-carrier and, in his own estimation, to never miss the tackle give him an edge in finding a spot on the team.

    He won't be like the diamonds in the rough, as Stupar will likely make the squad.

    However, his best-case scenario is to get on the field, whether it be on special teams or defense, and make a dozen or so tackles.