Oakland Raiders 2014 Mock Draft: Who Is the Ideal Pick in Every Round?
The NFL draft is the highlight of every offseason, and with a full crop of selections at their disposal this year, Reggie McKenzie and the Oakland Raiders will need to come away from which with some impact rookie players.
The Raiders will have plenty of areas to address throughout the roster, and as much as the “best player available” strategy will be in play, it should be emphasized within what is a wide range of positional needs.
Of course, those needs could very well change after what is sure to be a busy free agency period leading up to the draft, but that will depend on just how much of its influx in salary cap space the team will look to spend.
Currently with selections in all rounds but the fifth, here is an early look at the ideal picks for the Oakland Raiders in the 2014 NFL draft.
1st Round – DE Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina)
The Raiders’ pass rush needs upgrading in the worst way, and they will be looking to do so in any way possible this offseason.
If several of the teams ahead of them in the draft opt for quarterbacks, they could end up with this year’s top defensive end, and quite possibly top player overall, in Jadeveon Clowney.
As the draft gets closer, and every part of a given prospect’s game is picked apart, questions about Clowney will certainly emerge as well. With the supposed down year, even if only statistically speaking, that is a given.
However, what needs to be remembered is the very reason he was already considered among the best defensive players in the country as a sophomore. Clowney is a rare and potentially elite talent that you do not want to miss out on if you have the chance to take him.
In the NFL, opposing offenses won’t be able to consistently give him the extra attention he got in his junior season at South Carolina. Eventually, he will get his one-on-one situations, and his combination of size, speed, strength and athleticism should see him flourish.
Despite their need for a franchise quarterback, the opportunity to draft Clowney just may be the best-case scenario for the Raiders. Out of each of this year’s prospects, Clowney likely has the best chance for instant impact at the next level, and would be a big addition for the Raiders’ pass rush and defensive unit overall.
2nd Round – QB David Fales (San Jose State)
If Jadeveon Clowney being available keeps the Raiders from taking a quarterback at fifth overall, they will certainly be looking at all options for which in the second round.
San Jose State’s David Fales should be one of many quarterbacks available on the second day of the draft, and could end up coming off the board quickly.
While he may not have the strongest of arms, his accuracy and anticipation make up for that more often than not, and could very well make him a fit for the Raiders’ offense under the new regime.
Many will be of the opinion that a team in need of a franchise quarterback is better off taking one as early as possible, but that is not always the best course of action.
Quarterback evaluations, more than any other position, come down to finding the right fit for a given team and offense, regardless of the round in which they are drafted.
Should the Raiders deem Fales, or any other second-day quarterback, as the best fit for their team, being able to get him in the middle rounds means both better value on the selection and the ability to utilize earlier picks on other areas of significant need.
3rd Round – DT Daniel McCullers (Tennessee)
Having already addressed the defensive end spot in this particular projection, the Raiders should continue to add to the defensive line with a focus now on the interior.
One of the more intriguing mid-round talents at that spot will be Tennessee defensive tackle Daniel McCullers. Undoubtedly, McCullers has NFL size, measuring in at 6'6" and 350 pounds, and would be quite the presence on the Raiders’ front.
McCullers is the kind of scheme versatile player the Raiders covet on defense, capable of playing the nose in both the team’s 4-3 and 3-4 looks.
Like Clowney, but to a different degree, McCullers’ size and ability on the inside drew significant attention from the blocking schemes of opposing offenses in college. He, too, should have an opportunity to excel when teams get away from that strategy at the next level.
Should the Raiders be able to re-sign Lamarr Houston, add an impact free agent at end or tackle, and select both Clowney and McCullers within the draft’s first three rounds, their defensive line could make an immediate transition from weakness to strength in 2014.
4th Round – OG Brandon Thomas (Clemson)
While the Raiders’ offensive line is likely shaping up much better than the 2013 season showed, they could still use an addition or two for the guard spots heading into 2014.
Here, a pick that could present some value and that could immediately challenge for a starting position, is Clemson’s Brandon Thomas.
Thomas played the left tackle spot in college, but his 6'3" and 315-pound frame projects him as a guard in the NFL. He was a marker of consistency for the Tigers, starting 35 consecutive games on his way to several All-ACC honors.
Should Thomas’ experience at a high-level program allow for a quick transition to the NFL, him joining a starting group of Jared Veldheer, Stefen Wisniewski, Mike Brisiel and Menelik Watson could give the Raiders a solid offensive front to build around moving forward.
6th Round – CB Carrington Byndom (Texas)
While this point in the draft will be more about depth additions than anything else, we saw just how big of an issue that was for the Raiders this season, and especially so in a spot like cornerback.
Texas cornerback Carrington Byndom is one such player that could not only provide that depth at a key position of need, but challenge for playing time much sooner than expected as well.
Byndom comes with plenty of experience, having played at one of the nation’s premier programs, and seeing significant playing time dating back to his freshman season.
Although Byndom doesn’t have the blazing straight-line speed the Raiders franchise long coveted in its cornerbacks, his quickness in spurts will be attractive to the new regime’s zone-heavy looks in the secondary.
As Byndom adds size to his 6-foot frame at the next level, he should have a good opportunity to challenge for and contribute in a primary role relatively soon.
7th Round – WR Tevin Reese (Baylor)
With so many other needs to address, and already possessing some young talent at the position, it is unlikely that the Raiders will opt to select a receiver early on in this year’s draft. Instead, we can expect the position to be one of their many free agent targets beforehand.
Having said that, the Raiders have had some success with late-round and undrafted free agent wideouts of late, and it would be no surprise to see them look to find another steal here once again.
Baylor’s Tevin Reese has incredible athletic ability, and would be well-worth a late-round selection for an offense in need of playmakers.
Early on, Reese would likely be used only in certain situations as a deep threat or return man on special teams, but that can be quite valuable in itself.
In time, with some polish and good coaching, Reese could be able to expand his abilities as a receiver, and progress into earning a more significant role on offense. Either way, his elite and rare athletic ability makes this pick well worth it in the seventh round.
7th Round (Via Arizona) – DT Beau Allen (Wisconsin)
The Raiders can’t add enough talent and depth on the defensive line in this draft, and it would be no surprise to see them use a third pick in the late rounds.
Measuring in at 6'3" and 300 pounds, Wisconsin defensive tackle Beau Allen is another run-stopping interior lineman that could turn out to be a solid rotational player for the Raiders early on.
Allen, like McCullers, could play in either a 4-3 or 3-4 front, and that ability will only become more valuable as the Raiders add the necessary players to be as multiple in their looks as they want to on defense.
Again, finding starters at this point in the draft is rare, but finding solid depth and rotational players at positions of need, with starting potential down the line, will always present great value.