What’s Next in the Oakland Raiders’ Road Back to Relevance?

It’s been a long time since the Oakland Raiders were relevant in the NFL. The last time they were even in the playoff conversation was in 2011, when they were 7-4 after 11 games. That was before they collapsed down the stretch and lost four of their final five.

They haven’t had a winning record or been to the playoffs since losing Super Bowl XXXVII following the 2002 season. The road back to relevance has obviously been long and bumpy, but for the first time in years, there is real hope for the Raiders in 2015. There is a young quarterback in Derek Carr, a star defender in linebacker Khalil Mack and rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper to get excited about, among other players.

The Raiders have some pieces now, but there’s a lot more they need to do to be a contender again. Chief among them is to develop young players into key contributors.

New head coach Jack Del Rio could be the elixir to what has plagued the Raiders for years or the next in a long line of flameouts. Del Rio has the very short and very restrictive offseason to try the most out of a young roster with plenty of holes.

Perhaps no position has more question marks for the Raiders than at cornerback, where the Raiders' most experienced player is 26-year-old journeyman James Dockery. The projected starters are D.J. Hayden and T.J. Carrie with a combined 31 games of experience, which isn’t even two full seasons.

Both Hayden and Carrie have shown flashes of brilliance but must be more consistent for the Raiders to realize gains on defense in 2015. They simultaneously must improve and get some help from a pass rush that ranked 30th in sack percentage last season.  

No one is sure who will be Oakland’s No. 2 pass-rusher behind Mack, not even the head coach. Del Rio recently alluded to sixth-round pick Max Valles competing with Benson Mayowa for that spot on SiriusXM radio via Raiders.com:
Article Source: Bleacher Report - Oakland Raiders