With only one game left on the 2013 schedule, the Oakland Raiders won’t waste any time turning the page on this disappointing season. General manager Reggie McKenzie and his scouts have already compiled the majority of their reports and will begin building for the NFL draft next May.
Trying to figure out which way they’ll go with their first-round pick is anyone’s guess since the Raiders have so many holes to fill.
At least they’ll have a full allotment of picks, something that’s been missing during McKenzie’s first two seasons.
Here is a look at five of the players Oakland might be interested in.
* All information and quotes used in this and any report by Michael Wagaman were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
The Raiders like the production they’re getting out of Rod Streater, Andre Holmes and Denarius Moore, but they don’t have a true game-breaker among the bunch. Evans, a sophomore, could be that player.
Like Holmes, Evans has good size and uses it well against smaller, less physical defensive backs. The 6’5”, 225-pounder caught 65 passes for 1,322 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2013, cementing his status as one of the top receivers coming out for the draft.
Oakland probably won’t use its first-round pick on a wide receiver because of the pressing needs elsewhere on the roster, but if it did, Evans is definitely worth considering.
Dennis Allen believes Matt McGloin could very well be the long-term answer to the team’s quarterback problems. He might have more than a few people, both inside and outside the organization, who would disagree.
In fact, finding a franchise quarterback should be one of the team’s main priorities in the draft. Bortles could fit the mold.
Few players have had their stock rise as much as Bortles has over recent months. Although there’s some question about his ability to make plays in pressure situations, the 6’3” Bortles is as accurate a passer as any quarterback coming out for the draft, and he excels on throws down the middle of the field.
He was initially slotted as a late first- or early second-round pick, but many mock drafts have him going as high as fifth overall.
Oakland’s lack of pass rush has been a big issue over the second half of the season and has been one of the most noticeable drop-offs of the defense. Jeffcoat wouldn’t solve the problems, but he would definitely make a lot of them go away.
A dominant force who might also be a fit for a team seeking an outside linebacker to use in a 3-4, Jeffcoat is a blend of speed and strength who could serve as an ideal replacement if the Raiders decide not to bring back Lamarr Houston or if Houston signs elsewhere as a free agent.
Jeffcoat had another solid year at Texas. He made 12 sacks, giving him 26.5 for his career, and added 80 tackles. Of those, 21 were for losses, while he added another 18 quarterback hurries.
Oakland’s offensive line was banged up for most of the season to the point where veteran tackle Khalif Barnes was moved to right guard for the final month. That illustrated the urgency of the situation but also a lack of depth up front.
Of all the positions along the line, the Raiders are weakest at guard. Mike Brisiel, a zone-blocking lineman by trade, has been serviceable on the right side but nothing special. Lucas Nix, who started on the left side before Barnes took over, is nothing more than a backup.
Su’a-Filo, a projected second-round pick, wouldn't wow a lot of fans if his name was called when the Raiders went on the clock, but he would solve one of the team’s most pressing needs. He has good lateral movement for a big man, anchors well in pass protection and is a mauler when blocking for the run—everything Oakland needs.
Depending on how McKenzie wants to use his first pick in the draft, Oakland could solve one of its many issues on defense, or he could try to land a franchise player at a skill position. If the GM chooses the latter route, Williams should be high on his list.
The winner of this year’s Doak Walker Award and a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, Williams led the nation in rushing with 2,102 yards and 17 touchdowns and was among the top backs in nearly every significant category.
There have been some questions about Williams’ durability, which is why he’s being viewed only as a late second- or early third-round pick. That could work in the Raiders' favor since they could address a few other areas of concern before grabbing Williams.