ALAMEDA, Calif. -- It is simply a June minicamp and the regular season is more than three months away, yet it was interesting to see Keith McGill getting more work with the Oakland Raiders' first-team defense than former first-round pick DJ Hayden.
McGill, a fourth-round pick last year, was getting consistent first-team work opposite TJ Carrie, a seventh-round pick last year. Hayden was working some with the first team but was doing more work with the second unit. Hayden was the No. 12 overall pick in 2013.
All three players are expected to be in the top of the rotation and all get a lot of playing time. But Hayden and Carrie were expected to be the favorites to be the starters. If McGill ends up playing more than Hayden, it would be damning statement on a player the Raiders had huge hopes for.
McGill started one game last season andhe does have potential. He is 6-foot-4 and is long and rangy, just the way new defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. likes them. Norton came from Seattle, where the Seahawks specialize in rangy cornerbacks.
Again, this race has a long way to go, but the McGill-Hayden battle will be worth keeping a close eye on throughout training camp.
In other notes from the first day of the Raiders' minicamp:
Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio stressed that there will be competition at virtually every position and said that’s what will make Oakland a better team. Quarterback Derek Carr concurred, noting that his receiver group is much deeper than last season and said that will make Oakland a better team.
One receiver to keep an eye on is undrafted free agent Josh Harper, who played with Carr at Fresno State. Carr said he is thrilled to be reunited with Harper. Harper has a solid chance of making the 53-man roster.
J'Marcus Webb was starting at right guard over Khalif Barnes and rookie Jon Feliciano. Webb was a tackle for new Oakland offensive line coach Mike Tice in Chicago but didn't play in the NFL last year. It would be remarkable if he ends up starting at guard, as the team wants Feliciano to eventually take the job.
Menelik Watson was working in front of expected starter Austin Howard at right tackle. Watson, a second-round pick in 2013, has more long-term potential and could unseat Howard, who signed a five-year. $30 million deal with the Raiders in 2014. Howard played guard last season.
Linebacker Sio Moore was getting some work in team drills. Moore is coming back from a hip injury and is expected to be fully recovered by training camp. Del Rio said he was pleased with Moore’s progress.
Defensive tackle Dan Williams was working Tuesday after being out for the past several weeks.
Linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong continued to get a lot of playing time. The special teams contributor has a chance to play in the outside linebacker rotation, especially when strongside linebacker Khalil Mack lines up with his hand in the dirt on passing downs.
Rookie defensive lineman Leon Orr, an undrafted player from Florida, looked good Tuesday. He has a lot of rust. He’s someone to watch this summer.