The 2014 NFL Draft will be a big weekend in Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen’s rebuilding process for the Oakland Raiders franchise.
With so many needs throughout the roster, they will look to add as much instant-impact talent as possible, establishing a solid foundation to build around moving forward.
The biggest debate will surround which direction the Raiders should lean with their first-round selection at fifth overall, be it a potential franchise quarterback or a dominant pass-rusher.
With far more options in free agency for pass-rushers than for quarterbacks, targeting a signal-caller in the first round could make much more sense value-wise.
Either way, a lot can change before draft day, but the Raiders will have a number of different directions they can go with the selections at their disposal.
Complete with pro-player comparison profiles, here is the most recent 2014 Oakland Raiders’ NFL mock draft.
At 6’3" and 215 pounds, with the arm to make every throw on the field, as well as the athleticism to make plays with his legs, Derek Carr has the best physical attributes of any quarterback in this year’s class.
While many will consider his impressive numbers at Fresno State to be a product of a pass-heavy offensive attack, he displayed the necessary ability that translates well to the NFL level throughout.
Fair or not, Carr will draw plenty of comparisons to his older brother David heading into the draft, but it should be remembered that both are different players entirely.
With such a desperate need for a young quarterback to build around with confidence moving forward, Carr should be one of the Raiders’ top targets in the first-round this spring.
Solidifying this position is a huge piece of the Raiders’ rebuilding process, and as much of a risk as it can be to select a quarterback high in the first-round, the potential payoff with a player of Carr’s ability is well worth it.
Nearly equal to the need at quarterback, adding to the defensive line will be a primary focus for the Raiders throughout the upcoming offseason.
While he is no guarantee to make it to the Raiders pick early in the second-round, after a dominant senior bowl week, Aaron Donald is the type of player that can provide an instant impact on the interior defensive line.
At 6'0" and 288 pounds, Donald’s size may concern some at the next level, but he has proven his capability of producing both as a pass-rusher and run defender at every level thus far.
His size allows for elite-level quickness for an interior lineman, while he doesn’t sacrifice the kind of strength at the point of attack as some would assume.
If the league-wide emphasis on physical measurable sees Donald’s first-round talent and production fall to the second-round, he would provide a great value pick for the Raiders in addressing their defensive line.
With a 6’0", 235-pound frame, Carlos Hyde has the necessary build for his power running style to translate well to the NFL level.
Not only does Hyde run with power, but he will at times display the ability to make defenders miss with his elusiveness as well.
With both Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings set to become free agents, and no guarantee as to whether either will return next season, running back becomes a realistic possibility for the Raiders anywhere from the mid-late rounds of the draft.
Hyde’s talent and production at a program like Ohio State likely warrants a higher selection than early on in the third, but a recent trend of teams avoiding selecting running backs too high could have him available for the Raiders here.
If so, the Raiders would once again be adding good value with a second-day pick, getting a running back in Hyde who is more than capable of carrying the load on offense.
With so many areas to address in the draft, and only so many high picks at their disposal, finding value in the mid-late rounds will be imperative to the Raiders making the kind of improvements they want to in 2014.
As much as the Raiders need a No. 1 target at receiver, it would be tough to envision Reggie McKenzie either spending big money on the position in free agency or addressing which with their first-round selection at fifth overall.
Here in the fourth-round, a player with the ability to become a primary target is Rutgers’ Brandon Coleman.
Coleman’s 6’6”, 220-pound frame is what stands out the most, as he would provide the big outside target the Raiders have been missing for quite some time.
In a draft that is considered quite deep at the position, Coleman could very well fall to this spot despite the kind of physical attributes that could easily make him a first or second-round selection.
With the potential for consistent quarterback play at the next level, there is quite a high ceiling on Coleman’s ability as a receiver. For a team like the Raiders, in need of big targets on the outside, he would be well worth a mid-round selection here.
Adding to the defensive line will be a focus for the Raiders throughout the draft and free agency, as not only are they in need of several starters across the front, but quality depth for which as well.
Taylor Hart is the kind of versatile defensive end the Raiders defensive staff will value highly, with the ability he displayed at Oregon to play a number of positions up front at 6’6” and 285 pounds.
Hart’s game as a pass-rusher is still developing, but he has long established himself as a force against the run, on the edge, in particular.
As such, Hart projects as an ideal strong-side end in the Raiders system, and one who could provide some pass-rush depth on the interior line in nickel and dime situations, as well.
Hart would at the very least represent the valuable depth the Raiders will look to find in the late rounds, but is a player who has starting potential down the road as well.
Although the Raiders’ young group of offensive linemen has them in good shape moving forward, the unit’s struggles with injury in 2013 displayed the need for some depth upgrades throughout.
Kenarious Gates, a tackle from a big Georgia program, could provide just that, as he takes the time to refine his game and adjust to the NFL level.
With the Raiders’ need for depth at guard, in particular, Gates could be tried there as well, with the potential for a position change to give him a greater opportunity for success.
Either way, finding depth that will make the final roster is the goal here in the late rounds, as finding any starters would be more of an added bonus.
As the Raiders have shown over the past few seasons, a team can never have enough depth at the cornerback position, so adding to which in the late rounds is always a good idea.
Purdue’s Ricardo Allen is one such talented cornerback that should be selected on the third day of the draft and could catch the Raiders’ attention with his speed, playmaking ability, and fit for a zone-coverage scheme.
The knock on Allen heading into the draft will likely be his size at 5’9” and 185 pounds, but some time to add strength at the NFL level would be valuable to his game moving forward.
With late-round picks expected to provide depth rather than start early on, he would have plenty of time to do so, thus becoming a candidate to progressively earn bigger roles later on.