Las Vegas Raiders youth being served going down the stretch of the 2023 NFL season

The Las Vegas Raiders may not make the playoffs this season, but they could be perennial playoff contenders thanks to their budding young stars.

Minnesota Vikings v Las Vegas Raiders
Minnesota Vikings v Las Vegas Raiders / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

Thursday Night Football brought us an AFC West battle between the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers, and it was certainly one for the ages. From the outset, the Raiders dominated their divisional rivals, posting 63 points in front of the home crowd inside Allegiant Stadium.

What made the win even more impressive was the fact that the team was severely short-handed on the offensive side of the ball. The Raiders took on the Chargers without star running back Josh Jacobs, and two starting offensive linemen in Kolton Miller and Andre James, but it really did not make any negative difference.

Backup running back Zamir White ran the ball hard all game long, and to be honest, the offensive line looked better than it has all season long. Thayer Munford Jr. had an elite game at left tackle, Dylan Parham did an outstanding job filling in at center, and on both sides of the ball, youth was definitely served for the Silver and Black.

Tight end Michael Mayer had his breakout game of the season as well, proving to be an excellent pass-catching tight end, as well as a capable blocker. He was an elite NFL prospect coming out of Notre Dame, and on Thursday, you saw why the team traded up on Day 2 to get him.

Young defensive players like Tyree Wilson, Malcolm Koonce, Divine Deablo, and even Jack Jones stood out in a big way on that side of the ball, and it appears Maxx Crosby finally has some solid help.

Finally, quarterback Aidan O'Connell shook off his worst performance of his young NFL career to post his best performance, a real testament to the kind of player he is. As a fourth-round pick, the Raiders could decide to build around him this offseason, saving a ton of money to spend on other positions with a quarterback on a rookie deal.

Raiders look set up for future success thanks to their youth

It is clear that the Raiders have some strong talent on both sides of the ball, and many of these key players could remain in Las Vegas for quite a while. Parham and Munford looked like anchors for the offensive line on Thursday night, and White showed enough that if the team does have to move on from Josh Jacobs due to contract issues, they at least have a capable back to tote the rock next season.

On defense, the team really showed out, as Koonce and Wilson are proving to be excellent complementary pass rushers alongside Crosby. The defensive backfield also has talented youth, so there is no reason why this group cannot continue to grow alongside each other and be a force in the AFC moving forward.

The roster is set up for success the rest of the 2023 NFL season, and with a good offseason, the Raiders could find themselves as perennial playoff contenders in the long run. Maybe Thursday was a fluke, but this group of young players has Raider Nation looking towards the future, and for the first time in a long time, a complete rebuild is not needed.