Oakland Raiders' Initial 2014 Round-by-Round Draft Big Board
Being able to come away from the draft with at least a few instant-impact players would go a long way toward ensuring those hopes become a reality.
While the majority of attention goes toward the first round, history shows there are impact players to be found throughout the draft. Of course, finding them is the hard part.
With a full slate of draft selections for the first time in several years, here is a look at an initial big board for the Oakland Raiders’ 2014 draft.
- QB Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville)
- QB Derek Carr (Fresno State)
- DE Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina)
- DE Khalil Mack (Buffalo)
- QB Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M)
- WR Sammy Watkins (Clemson)
As a team that will look to be consistent in maintaining a “best player available” draft strategy, the Raiders are fortunate that the majority of prospects near the top of this year’s class are at positions that would fill a significant need as well.
It would be a bit of a surprise for them to go in any direction other than quarterback or defensive end in the first round, and at least one of the top five in this group is guaranteed to be available when the Raiders are on the clock.
Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr and Johnny Manziel are all considered potential franchise quarterbacks, and that is something the Raiders haven’t had in far too long.
If the team chooses to address the defensive line instead, both Jadeveon Clowney and Khalil Mack are players who could have instant impacts in the pass-rush department, and it’s entirely possible that both are available at fifth overall.
If the Raiders address the pass rush in free agency, and don’t feel comfortable with any of the first-round quarterbacks, Clemson’s Sammy Watkins would become a possibility as well. Although a receiver coming off the board that early is not exactly common, his skill set makes him a potential No. 1 receiver early on.
- QB David Fales (San Jose State)
- QB Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois)
- DT Aaron Donald (Pittsburgh)
- DE Dee Ford (Auburn)
- WR Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt)
If the Raiders do end up taking one of the draft’s top pass-rushers in the first round, they should certainly be in the market for a quarterback in the second.
Here, both David Fales and Jimmy Garoppolo should be available, and while they may not have gotten the attention Bridgewater, Carr and Manziel have, they should be solid starters at the next level.
Of course, if quarterback is the pick in the first round, the Raiders could go in any direction here, with potential focus points of wide receiver and the defensive line.
Jordan Matthews would be a nice addition to the receiving corps, while adding Aaron Donald or Dee Ford would go a long way toward upgrading the defensive line as the Raiders so badly need to do.
With this year’s draft class considered relatively deep at those two positions, the Raiders could end up with some first-round talents available in the second round, thus being able to address some of their biggest needs with some great value.
- OL Brandon Thomas (Clemson)
- OL Xavier Su’a-Filo (UCLA)
- DT Daniel McCullers (Tennessee)
- RB Carlos Hyde (Ohio State)
- DE Chris Smith (Arkansas)
Interior linemen don’t usually come off the board until the middle rounds, and that could be the spot in this year’s draft where the Raiders look to address their troubles at guard.
Here, both Brandon Thomas and Xavier Su’a-Filo would represent good value picks that could challenge for starting spots at guard. Thomas played left tackle at Clemson, and did so during Senior Bowl week as well, but a move to guard in the NFL could elevate his game given the fit of his size and strength for which.
As will be the case throughout this draft, adding to the defensive line remains a very realistic possibility as well. Both defensive tackle Daniel McCullers and defensive end Chris Smith should be available early on in this round, and either could step in as solid rotational players for the Raiders at the very least.
With both Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings becoming free agents, the running back position becomes yet another filled with uncertainty. If neither re-sign with the team, a back who can carry the load should be drafted in the middle rounds, and Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde may be the best fit if available.
- CB Chris Davis (Auburn)
- WR Brandon Coleman (Rutgers)
- DT Kelcy Quarles (South Carolina)
- OL Jon Halapio (Florida)
- FS Terrence Brooks (Florida State)
In a relatively deep draft, the Raiders will have plenty of players to choose from in the fourth round who could make their impact felt with the team early on.
Here, we can expect positions where depth has been an issue of late to be the primary targets, with a possible focus on wide receiver and the defensive backfield.
Of this group, Rutgers receiver Brandon Coleman could have the biggest sleeper potential. At 6'6", 220 pounds, he certainly has the size to become a No. 1 target in the NFL, and he doesn’t lack the necessary athleticism either.
A down year in 2013 is likely the cause for his draft stock sitting where it is, but his dominant 2012 season as a sophomore shows exactly what he is capable of as a receiver.
Overall, considering the number of areas the Raiders have to fill on the roster, as well as how deep this draft is at a number of positions, finding starters here in the fourth round is a realistic possibility.
- FS Nickoe Whitley (Mississippi State)
- DE Marcus Smith (Louisville)
- OL Wesley Johnson (Vanderbilt)
- OL Chris Watt (Notre Dame)
- DT Danny Shelton (Washington)
Due to the Matt Flynn trade prior to last season, the Raiders are without a fifth-round selection. However, we can expect that Reggie McKenzie will, like last year, try to add as many picks as possible by way of trading down, likely returning a fifth-rounder at some point.
While getting starting talent here would be a welcomed bonus, adding the kind of quality depth the Raiders are in desperate need of is the goal.
At free safety, although the Raiders will look to bring Charles Woodson back for at least one more season, it would be in their best interest to add depth behind him for when he does eventually retire.
As such, a player like Mississippi State’s Nickoe Whitley becomes an option here in the mid-late rounds. Whitley has talent and showed flashes of which throughout his collegiate career, and learning behind Woodson for a year or two could help him become more consistent.
Aside from the defensive backfield, adding depth on both the offensive and defensive fronts will likely remain a priority here in the fifth round as well.
- CB Carrington Byndom (Texas)
- WR Tevin Reese (Baylor)
- DE Chaz Sutton (South Carolina)
- DT Beau Allen (Wisconsin)
- DT Eathyn Manumaleuna (BYU)
There will be more selections for depth here, but the Raiders have also made a recent habit of finding some contributing players both in the late rounds and as undrafted free agents.
A player like Baylor wide receiver Tevin Reese has the potential to do just that with his elite athletic ability.
While he isn’t necessarily polished as a route-runner, being able to use him as a weapon on both offense and special teams could be valuable as he refines his game as a receiver.
Reese has the kind of speed that the old Raiders’ regime always coveted, and he could become a valuable player if used in the right way.
- RB Silas Redd (USC)
- FS Jeremy Deering (Rutgers)
- OL Kenarious Gates (Georgia)
- OL James Stone (Tennessee)
- WR Noel Grigsby (San Jose State)
Like the sixth round, the seventh will also be about finding depth and potentially a draft sleeper who exceeds expectations and contributes right away.
In need of a running back for depth at the very least, an interesting name in the late rounds is USC’s Silas Redd. Redd was a highly touted prospect heading into Penn State, but he never put up big numbers after his transfer to USC.
Considering the problems the USC program had over the course of Lane Kiffin’s tenure, both as an offense and team overall, there’s a chance that Redd's struggles were a product of the situation more than anything else.
With there always being a possibility that his talent allows him to put it all together at the NFL level, Redd is the kind of player teams like the Raiders should be targeting in the late rounds.