The Las Vegas Raiders have impressive young talent on both sides of the ball, especially under the age of 25. Alas, it isn’t impressive enough according to Pro Football Focus.
The Raiders have plenty of young and upcoming talent
PFF recently released an article in which they ranked the NFL’s best players under the age of 25 through the first eight weeks of the season. Not surprisingly, the Raiders weren’t shown much love. Obviously, many of the players on that list are already considered ‘franchise-type’ players. The Raiders’ youthful core has shown it has a lot of promise so some praise is warranted.
Here are four players, two from each side of the ball that have shown they’ll likely be the team’s key pieces moving forward. We also sprinkled in some honorable mentions that deserve recognition. Keep in mind we’re not saying these are the best players per se. Rather, they’re the most important of the ‘under 25’ group.
The Raiders young core on offense
Josh Jacobs, running back
This was a no-brainer as far as potential franchise players for the Raiders. Since being drafted last year, Jacobs has become the second most important player on offense, besides Derek Carr. Despite a slow start, if last Sunday was an indication, Jacobs is back. Though he came out strong early in the season, the Alabama standout looked hobbled, and an injured offensive line didn’t help matters.
Jacobs has 12 rushing touchdowns in his career off of an average of 83.7 rushing yards a game. Also, he is becoming a more complete back, especially in regards to the passing game. He already has 122 receiving yards in comparison to 166 for his entire rookie year. Look for the sophomore running back to really take off in the next two to three years barring major injury.
Hunter Renfrow, wide receiver
Renfrow who turns 25 on December 21st, has been one of the better receivers to put on the Silver and Black in recent years. A fifth-round selection from last year, Renfrow has become one of Carr’s favorite and most reliable targets. He’s been targeted 105 times since being drafted but has only five dropped passes against him.
Henry Ruggs III is a future star and we’ve already seen what he can do for this offense. However, he has a lot to prove on the field yet. Renfrow on the other hand, has been overshadowed by production from other receivers but moving forward, he’s clearly still a favorite of Carr. He’ll be a key component of this offense in the years to come.
Honorable Mention: Alec Ingold and Henry Ruggs III
Now the Raiders defense
Maxx Crosby, defensive end
Crosby is the other no-brainer on this list, his potential and upside on defense makes him a true potential superstar. Unfortunately, Crosby has not been helped by a struggling defensive unit that needs more talent. Any great defensive end will have a strong supporting cast that allows him to get to the quarterback and wreak havoc. Despite the shortcomings, Crosby has performed well, totaling 14 sacks since last year along with four forced fumbles.
Though Crosby was chosen more than three rounds after Clelin Ferrell, it’s clear who’s becoming the better player. Ferrell, who was a first-round pick, is developing nicely but is lacking in the sack department. If the Raiders could find a true third pass rusher and get themselves tackles who bring pressure from the inside, these defensive ends could form something special.
Trayvon Mullen, cornerback
A second-round pick last year, Mullen is already showing he’s something special in the defensive backfield. While he’s not perfect, he’s trending towards becoming the Raiders’ next shutdown cornerback. Even the best corners have rough stretches but his overall body of work shows opposing quarterbacks prefer to throw it the other way first.
Mullen only has one career interception but that has to do more with the fact he won’t see many passes his way. In his rookie year, Mullen only gave up a 55.9 completion percentage and a QB rating of 78.3. Mullen has seen his numbers climb in those categories, 67.7% and 121.4, respectively. There’s still plenty of football to be played in his defense, in all likelihood, Mullen will bring those numbers down as the season progresses. The Raiders have something special with Mullen, with Damon Arnette opposite of him, they could have a true one-two punch.
Honorable Mention: Johnathan Abram and Clelin Ferrell
You May Also Like: Raiders Slowly Moving Up Everyone’s Power Rankings
*Top Photo: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports