2014 Draft Sleepers Who'd Fit Perfectly with the Oakland Raiders
The 2014 NFL draft will be the most important part of the Oakland Raiders’ offseason, as they will need to come away from with several impact players to ensure the rebuilding project remains headed in the right direction.
While Reggie McKenzie and his staff most certainly need to hit on their early selections, they'll also need to land impact players in later rounds in what is being touted by some as the deepest draft in many years.
Because of this depth, players who would have gone earlier in previous drafts will be available in the later rounds this year. Thus, these prospects will have a better opportunity of exceeding the expectations normally associated with players taken at the back end of the draft, and for the Raiders, this should mean greater value for the team's 2014 draft class overall.
Here are five draft sleepers who’d fit perfectly with the Oakland Raiders.
QB David Fales (San Jose State)
Although the Raiders will be going with the newly acquired Matt Schaub as their starter for the next season or two, addressing the future of the team's quarterback position remains a priority in this draft.
The best way to do so would be with an early pick, but pressure from ownership for immediate improvement suggests the front office could shy away from a player who wouldn’t necessarily see the field at all in 2014.
As such, the Raiders targeting one of this year’s several intriguing developmental quarterbacks in the later rounds becomes a realistic alternative, and San Jose State’s David Fales should be at or near the top of that list.
Likely to come off the board anywhere between the fourth and seventh rounds, Fales’ short and intermediate accuracy makes him a good fit for the Raiders’ West Coast passing game.
The biggest questions surrounding Fales concerns his arm strength, but his impressive college career showed just how much his ability to throw with anticipation can make up for any physical limitations.
If the Raiders are looking for a quarterback to develop behind Schaub for a season or two and want to use their top selections elsewhere, Fales could provide great value in the middle and late rounds.
OL Billy Turner (North Dakota State)
The Raiders have done well to address the offensive line through free agency thus far, but they will likely continue to do so in the draft as well.
For which, the Raiders will target players who best fit their power-blocking scheme, and North Dakota State’s Billy Turner is a mid-round prospect who does just that.
Turner is not the most polished prospect at the position, and thus likely won’t come off the board in the first few rounds, but his size, strength and overall physicality all project well to the NFL level.
Although Turner played exclusively as a tackle in college, his strength at the point of attack could make him a fit at guard as well.
Either way, Turner would be a good fit for the Raiders’ power-blocking scheme, and with a veteran line already in place, he is a player they could afford to develop for a year if needed.
WR Brandon Coleman (Rutgers)
Wide receiver is another position the Raiders will be looking to add to in this year’s draft and, based on who is available, they could choose to do so fairly early on.
At the same time, this year’s group of receivers make for arguably the draft’s deepest position overall, and talented players can be found throughout the middle rounds as a result.
A receiver likely to be available on the draft’s third day, who could present plenty of value with quite a high ceiling as a prospect, is Rutgers’ Brandon Coleman.
At 6’6” 225, Coleman has one of the more impressive frames of any pass-catcher in this year’s draft, and he doesn’t lack the speed needed to create separation either. To this point, his lack of college production will likely make him a Day 3 selection, but Rutgers’ inconsistent quarterback play should be taken into account here as well.
Considering what his physical abilities may allow him to become at the next level, Coleman is well worth a selection if available somewhere in the fourth or fifth round.
CB Ricardo Allen (Purdue)
As the Raiders have experienced repeatedly over the past few seasons, the defensive backfield is one of the more important areas to establish capable depth.
Considering which, with Oakland's starting corners and safeties relatively set after this year's free-agent signings, we can expect the Raiders to target some developmental DBs in the later rounds of the 2014 draft.
A late-round prospect who could fit well and has a good chance to develop at the next level is Purdue cornerback Ricardo Allen.
A four-year college starter, Allen comes into the league with plenty of experience. He is quicker than he is fast, and although slightly small by NFL standards at 5’9”, he fits well with the zone coverages the Raiders are starting to favor under Dennis Allen and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver.
Ricardo Allen had his best statistical season in 2013, showcasing an ability to make plays on the football with six interceptions.
Undersized or not, Allen is a productive and experienced cornerback prospect who fits the Raiders’ defensive scheme well and is easily worthy of a late-round selection.
DT Beau Allen (Wisconsin)
Although some key additions have already been made in free agency, the Raiders will likely continue to add to the defensive line throughout this year’s draft as well.
A projected late-round defensive tackle prospect who could surprise at the next level is Wisconsin’s Beau Allen.
Allen played the nose tackle spot in Wisconsin’s 3-4 defensive front, doing well in his role to occupy opposing blockers at the line of scrimmage.
At 6’2” 330, he has the size and strength to do just that at the next level, but with some technique refinement, his quickness off the snap could allow him to contribute as an interior pass-rusher.
At the very least, Allen’s proven ability as an interior run-stuffer makes him well worth a late-round selection.