5 Players Oakland Raiders Should Target on Day 3
With three rounds of the 2013 NFL Draft now in the books, there remain a significant number of intriguing prospects available for the Oakland Raiders heading into Saturday.
Thus far, the Raiders have added one of the draft’s best cover cornerbacks in Houston’s D.J. Hayden, Florida State offensive tackle Menelik Watson, and Connecticut linebacker Sio Moore.
With these picks, we have seen the Raiders’ new “best player available” draft strategy on full display, and that will continue as we move into day three.
Having said that, the best player available always seems to make the most sense from an outside perspective when it just so happens that the team can fill a position of need as well.
With many needs left to fill, here are five players that the Raiders should target on day three.
QB Matt Barkley (USC)
To the surprise of many, Matt Barkley was not selected in either of the draft’s first two days.
Yes, the Raiders did trade for Matt Flynn and already have Terrelle Pryor on the roster, but if Barkley proves to be the top player on their board by the time they select early on in the fourth round, it would be tough to argue against the value.
The criticisms against this year’s quarterback class are well known by now, but taking a chance on an experienced starter who was at one time projected as a first-round talent is hardly out of the question. Concerns about his arm strength aside, Barkley possesses a number of attributes key to having success as a quarterback at the next level.
Many thought the Raiders could target a quarterback with any of their first three picks, but adding one with the potential of Matt Barkley early on in day three could provide more value than they had ever imagined getting heading into this draft.
RB Marcus Lattimore (South Carolina)
With the Raiders’ back-up running back position not completely set and Darren McFadden heading into a contract year, adding talent at the position is a good idea.
South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore would have been among the top running backs in this draft were it not for his season-ending knee injury this past year.
Of course, Lattimore may be projected to start the 2013 campaign on the PUP list, but the future contributions that he could bring either later on in the season or starting in 2014 would be taken into account here.
New Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie is constantly looking for the best value in the draft picks he has at his disposal, and the farther Marcus Lattimore falls in this draft, the more of a potential steal he becomes.
FS Josh Evans (Florida)
With the first-round selection of cornerback D.J. Hayden, the Raiders have continued to address what was a relatively weak secondary.
Next up may be adding to the free safety position, and Florida’s Josh Evans stands out among the rest of this draft’s group.
Evans has the skill set to be the playmaking center field safety that the Raiders desperately need, and he has come to be known for his contributions in run support as well.
It is quite possible that Evans has been overshadowed throughout the pre-draft process by fellow Gator safety, Matt Elam, but he was extremely key to the success of that defense as well.
In Josh Evans, the Raiders would not only be adding valuable competition to the defensive backfield but a player who has the potential to be a day-one starter as well.
DE Quanterus Smith (Western Kentucky)
Quanterus Smith is a prospect that I have continuously mentioned as a mid-round target for the Raiders in this draft. Having yet to really address their glaring need in the pass-rush department, the pick would still make as much sense as any.
Of course, the reason Smith is still on the board is due to concerns surrounding the knee injury he suffered in late November. Without that, he likely would have been a first-round selection.
In his senior season, Smith totaled 12.5 sacks, three coming against arguably the nation’s best offensive line in the Alabama Crimson Tide. His natural skills and pass-rush repertoire are undeniable.
The only people who know if the Raiders believe Quanterus Smith can be healthy in time for the start of the regular season are those inside the organization itself. If he is, the Raiders could come away having found great value in the middle rounds, getting one of the draft’s best pass-rushers overall.
TE Joseph Fauria (UCLA)
After having let Brandon Myers leave as a free agent, the Raiders are left with David Ausberry and Richard Gordon at the tight end position.
Likely looking to add competition to the group, the Raiders could find some good value in UCLA’s Joseph Fauria in the later rounds of the draft.
Fauria possesses the ideal combination of size and athletic ability to be a threat both down the seams and in the red zone. As of late, these are areas of the passing game that the Raiders have experienced some significant struggles.
Late-round picks aren’t expected to start right away, but at a thin tight end position on the Raiders’ roster, Fauria would get his shot. At the very least, as with the rest of the draft picks on a rebuilding roster, the added competition would be quite beneficial.