While this new Raiders regime will most certainly operate under the “best player available” draft strategy, the best-case scenario would of course be doing so for the most part with some positions of need.
Their biggest needs include the defensive line, defensive backfield and offensive line to name a few, and the following positional big boards reflect the prospects expected to be available in the rounds that the Raiders should look to address these needs.
Here is the final pre-draft update on the Raiders big board.
DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
DE Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
DE Barkevious Mingo, LSU
DE Tank Carradine, Florida State
OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
LB Dion Jordan, Oregon
DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
Having now traded for Matt Flynn, it is unlikely that the Raiders look to add a quarterback in the first round. However, and especially if they are able to add some midround selections via trade-downs, there are some potential fits later on.
For this quarterback class, the value is in the middle rounds, where, as is the case every year, there is the potential to find some solid NFL starters. Should the Raiders select a quarterback in that area, he would not be expected to start right away, and the added competition both now and in the future would be beneficial.
Some midround targets at QB include:
Of course, having both McFadden and Jennings on the roster would indicate the Raiders are extremely unlikely to add to the position until the mid- to late rounds at the very earliest, but there is still some significant value there.
Some mid- to late-round targets at running back include:
- Kenjon Barner, Oregon
- Knile Davis, Arkansas
- Mike Gillislee, Florida
- Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
- Rex Burkhead, Nebraska
After the release of Darrius Heyward-Bey, the Raiders’ receiving corps instantly became thinner. As such, they could very well address the position as early as the third round.
While the number of talented players will be more than sufficient, getting a physical receiver with good size would be the ideal fit for a Raiders team that has struggled scoring in the red zone.
Some midround targets at wide receiver include:
- Da’Rick Rogers, Tennessee Tech
- Stedman Bailey, West Virginia
- Rodney Smith, Florida State
- Marcus Davis, Virginia Tech
- Denard Robinson, Michigan
While upgrading in the trenches is certainly a good idea for the Raiders, one of the top tackles available to them in the first round would likely present them with their best chance to trade down and acquire more picks.
As much as one of those players would help solidify the offensive front for years to come, trading down in the first round remains the Raiders’ ideal situation, so we can expect them to address the offensive line later on instead.
Some midround targets at offensive line include:
- Jordan Mills, Louisiana Tech
- Brennan Williams, North Carolina
- Dallas Thomas, Tennessee
- Barrett Jones, Alabama
- Larry Warford, Kentucky
In desperate need of a pass rush, we can expect the Raiders to address such very early on in Thursday’s draft.
Whether they stay at third overall or trade down somewhere within the first round, some of the draft’s top pass-rushing talent should still be available to them.
Some early- to midround targets at defensive end include:
- Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
- Barkevious Mingo, LSU
- Tank Carradine, Florida State
- Bjoern Werner, Florida State
- Quanterus Smith, Western Kentucky
Much like the defensive end position, defensive tackle presents a significant need and thus possible target with the Raiders’ first selection in this draft.
There are several players projected to come off the board within the top 10 picks of this draft who can make an instant impact on the interior line in defending both the pass and run games, and all of which could be options for the Raiders.
Some early- to midround targets at defensive tackle include:
- Sharrif Floyd, Florida
- Star Lotulelei, Utah
- Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
- Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State
- Everett Dawkins, Florida State
After three solid free-agent signings at linebacker, one would assume it's a position unlikely to be addressed early, if at all, for the Raiders in this draft.
At the same time, employing a “best player available” draft strategy would seem to contradict this assumption. For example, if Dion Jordan is on the board when the Raiders pick at third overall, his versatility and potential contributions to the defense on many levels may make him a player who is difficult to pass up.
Some targets at linebacker throughout this draft include:
- Dion Jordan, Oregon
- Kevin Reddick, North Carolina
- Michael Mauti, Penn State
- Sean Porter, Texas A&M
- Brandon Magee, Arizona State
The Raiders addressed what was possibly the weakest position on their roster with the free-agent signings of Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins.
At the same time, both were signed to just one-year contracts, and the position would benefit as much as any from some competition. The Raiders would most likely wait until the midrounds to address the cornerback position, but will most certainly do so at some point throughout this draft.
Some midround targets at cornerback include:
- D.J. Hayden, Houston
- Sanders Commings, Georgia
- Tyrann Mathieu, LSU
- Leon McFadden, San Diego State
- Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Connecticut
Tyvon Branch is a solid starter at strong safety and one of the team’s best overall players, but the Raiders must add competition at free safety after having released Michael Huff earlier this offseason.
While they are unlikely to consider such in the first round unless they trade down at least 10 spots, there remains some playmaking talent at the position later on in the draft as well.
Some mid- to late-round targets at free safety include:
- T.J. Mcdonald, USC
- Josh Evans, Florida
- Bacarri Rambo, Georgia
- Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma
- Earl Wolff, North Carolina State