Oakland Raiders Ultimate 2014 Draft Primer
The 2014 NFL draft is finally here. In case you weren't ready for it two weeks ago or decided to lock yourself in an underground bunker to avoid the silly reports this time of year, allow Bleacher Report to get you up to speed.
The Oakland Raiders enter a pivotal year of the post-Al Davis era. General manager Reggie McKenzie has a whopping four picks in the first 107 of the draft, doubling the number of picks he's had in that range over the last two years. Besides a few late-round picks McKenzie traded away, the Raiders have a full assortment of picks at their disposal.
Finding an impact player is the most important thing at No. 5, but the Raiders also need to find starters to eventually replace the veterans they signed in free agency. Since the Raiders can't count on their seventh-round picks to be starters, they have very little margin of error.
2014 Draft Picks
Round 1, Pick 5
Round 2, Pick 36
Round 3, Pick 67
Round 4, Pick 107
Round 7, Pick 219
Round 7, Pick 235 - This pick was acquired along with a 2013 sixth-round selection from the Arizona Cardinals as part of the trade for quarterback Carson Palmer. This pick was conditional on Palmer starting 13 games in 2013, which he did.
Position-by-Position Big Board
Quarterback: Derek Carr, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, Zach Mettenberger, Jimmy Garoppolo, David Fales, Tom Savage, Teddy Bridgewater, Tajh Boyd
Running Back: Carlos Hyde, Andre Williams, Terrance West, Jeremy Hill, Antonio Andrews, Tyler Gaffney, Lache Seastrunk, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Jerick McKinnon
Wide Receiver: Sammy Watkins, Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, Cody Latimer, Brandin Cooks, Jordan Matthews, Davante Adams, Jarvis Landry, Donte Moncrief, Martavis Bryant, Brandon Coleman, Jared Abbrederis, Jeff Janis, L'Damian Washington, Devin Street, Matt Hazel, Bennie Fowler, Torrence Allen
Tight Ends: Eric Ebron, Jace Amaro, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Troy Niklas, C.J. Fiedorowicz, A.C. Leonard
Offensive Tackles: Taylor Lewan, Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews, Zack Martin, Morgan Moses, Cyrus Kouandjio, Antonio Richardson, Jack Mewhort, Billy Turner, Ja’Wuan James
Offensive Guards: Zach Martin, Antonio Richardson, David Yankey, Cyril Richardson, Gabe Jackson, Jon Halapio
Centers: Marcus Martin, Travis Swanson, Tyler Larson, Bryan Stork
Defensive Ends: Jadeveon Clowney, Scott Crichton, Kony Ealy, DeMarcus Lawrence, Trent Murhpy, Dee Ford, Kareem Martin, Will Clarke
Defensive Tackles: Aaron Donald, Kony Ealy, Timmy Jernigan, Ra'Shede Hageman, Will Sutton, Stephon Tuitt, Daniel McCullers, Dandre Coleman, Jay Bromley, Ken Bishop
Inside Linebackers: C.J. Mosely, Chris Borland, Shayne Skov, Jordan Tripp, Trevor Reilly, Yawin Smallwood, Avery Williamson
Outside Linebackers: Khalil Mack, Anthony Barr, Ryan Shazier, Jeremiah Attaochu, Kyle Van Noy, Jordan Tripp, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Carlos Fields Jr., Derek Kennard
Cornerbacks: Kyle Fuller, Justin Gilbert, Bradley Roby, Darqueze Dennard, Phillip Gaines, Pierre Desir, Marcus Roberson, Loucheiz Purifoy, Terrance Mitchell, Keon Lyn, Bennett Jackson, Walt Aikens, Keith Lewis, Bashaud Breeland
Safeties: Calvin Pryor, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Terrence Brooks, Deone Bucannon, Craig Loston, Alden Darby
Round 1, Pick 5
Team Needs: WR, DE, DT, CB, FS, QB, LB, OT, RB, OG
Unlike previous years, no one knows quite how the first few picks are going to go. A trade could alter who is available, so the Raiders have to be flexible even though they are drafting in the top five.
The Raiders would certainly like to get linebacker Khalil Mack or wide receiver Sammy Watkins, but there is a good chance both of those players are off the board at No. 5. That leaves the Raiders in a tough position, provided they can't trade down.
Should he fall, Mack would instantly slide into the SAM linebacker role Sio Moore played last season. Moore would flip sides and take over for Kevin Burnett at the WILL linebacker spot. It wouldn't be too hard for the Raiders to get Burnett snaps on early downs, but the Raiders would no longer be exposed to his coverage limitations.
With Mack coming off the edge in passing situations, defensive end Justin Tuck would slide inside. A pass rush consisting of Tuck, defensive end LaMarr Woodley, defensive tackle Antonio Smith, Mack and Moore would be the best the Raiders have had in years.
Watkins would be ideal, because the Raiders haven't had a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver since Randy Moss, who wasn't even giving his full effort. Quarterback Matt Schaub is used to having a wide receiver like Andre Johnson, so adding a No. 1 wide receiver has to be a priority. If Watkins is off the board, the Raiders could also look at Mike Evans or Odell Beckham Jr.
Beckham would instantly improve Oakland's return game, boosting his value. The Raiders need a legitimate kick- and punt-returner now that wide receiver Jacoby Ford is gone. Trading down a few spots for Beckham would be ideal, but the Raiders would also risk not getting him.
The only player who fielded more than one punt last year who is still on Oakland's roster is wide receiver Greg Jenkins, but he's no lock to make the team. Special-teams ace Taiwan Jones was average on kick returns and hasn't been able to consistently hold on to the ball.
Oakland's defensive line has been put together with older players, so the Raiders would also be wise to look at a young defensive tackle like Aaron Donald. Outside of less-than-ideal height, Donald has everything you want in a top prospect.
The oldest player on Oakland's defensive line is Antonio Smith at age 33, and he plays the same position as Donald. Adding Donald to the defensive tackle rotation with Pat Sims and Stacy McGee would keep the unit fresh. Pressure up the middle would also help Tuck and Woodley on the outside.
Although it would not be a popular pick after losing left tackle Jared Veldheer in free agency, the Raiders could also go with an offensive tackle. Greg Robinson is considered one of the top four prospects in the draft, so he would be a good value if he fell to No. 5 overall. Robinson may need to play guard initially while he learns how to pass protect, but the Raiders need a solid left guard.
If the Raiders prefer a prospect who can play left tackle right away, they may like Taylor Lewan. If the Raiders are worried about the development of right tackle Menelik Watson, they may like Jake Matthews, who has experience on both sides and is among the safest players in the draft.
Pass-rusher Anthony Barr remains a dark horse to land at No. 5 overall. Barr has elite athleticism but is a work in progress against the run. Defensive coordinator Jason Tarver would have to get creative with Barr, but he may be able to play the same type of role head coach Dennis Allen created for Von Miller in Denver.
Round 2, Pick 36
If the Raiders don't get a wide receiver or a pass-rusher in the first round, it would make sense to look at getting one in the second round. The Raiders will obviously have to be flexible, especially since all the top wide receivers could be gone and it's not a deep draft for pass-rushers.
Wide receivers who could be available in the second round include Cody Latimer, Davante Adams, Donte Moncrief, Marqise Lee, Jarvis Landry, Allen Robinson, Jordan Matthews and Martavis Bryant. A trade down in the second makes a lot of sense for the Raiders as they could likely still land a solid receiver toward the end of the round.
Provided the value isn't there at wide receiver, the Raiders could look to add a cornerback. The Raiders signed veteran cornerbacks Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers to one-year deals this offseason, but the latter turns 33 in July.
Rogers is expected to be Oakland's slot cornerback this season, which is a very important role. General manager Reggie McKenzie favors taller cornerbacks, so a shorter slot cornerback like Lamarcus Joyner may not be under consideration.
Phillip Gaines fits the same mold as last year's first-round pick (D.J. Hayden) with good athletic ability and ball skills to go with injury concerns. Also like Hayden, Gaines played in the C-USA.
Small-school prospect Pierre Desir could also intrigue the Raiders, but the ideal situation would be if one of the top four cornerbacks fell to them. Bradley Roby may be the most likely of the four to fall, but his potential is so good there is no guarantee.
Another possibility would be a free safety to take over for Charles Woodson next season. Florida State's Terrence Brooks has big upside and could sit a year and learn while playing a role on special teams in 2014. Brooks is a former cornerback who could rotate down into the box to cover slot tight ends, much like Woodson.
The Raiders would love to get a quarterback of the future, but due to the fifth-year options for first-round selections, they will probably have to move up to get one. Derek Carr has long been linked to the Raiders, but he may very well be gone in the middle of the first round.
By trading for Matt Schaub, the Raiders don't have the same kind of urgency to draft a quarterback. In fact, the move was likely the result of the Raiders deciding to pass on a quarterback in the first few rounds.
Round 3, Pick 67
The top of the third round may present the end of the deep class of wide receivers. If the Raiders are one of the teams that haven't drafted one at this point, getting one with upside with the 67th overall pick would make sense.
In such a deep class, it's possible a very good one could still be on the board. On NFL draft lead writer Matt Miller's final big board, Martavis Bryant ranks 67th and Jordan Matthews ranks 80th overall. Both Bryant and Matthews are bigger receivers that could develop into more than red-zone weapons.
It may also be hard to pass on the sure-handed Jarvis Landry if he were to fall to the third. If the run on wide receivers leaves the position thin, the Raiders may look at an outside linebacker.
Georgia Tech's Jeremiah Attaochu is a player who could develop into a starter at SAM linebacker for the Raiders. Attaochu has the pass-rushing skills that would give him an immediate role in Oakland, but could also start if the Raiders are willing to shuffle their linebackers. The Raiders could move Sio Moore to the weak side and also could explore using four linebackers in some situations.
Some of the cornerbacks the Raiders may consider in the second round may also be available in the third round. Opinions vary widely on Phillip Gaines, for example.
Maryland cornerback Dexter McDougle would also be a consideration with this pick. The Raiders had McDougle in for a visit per Gil Brandt of NFL.com. Clemson cornerback/safety Bashaud Breeland could also be an option and met with the Raiders per Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post. Florida cornerback Marcus Roberson is another player the Raiders may consider.
It's probably a little early for the Raiders to consider a running back, but it's not impossible that they look at one of the top ones if they are still available. LSU's Jeremy Hill has character red flags, but he's very talented if he can get on the right track. At 6'1" and more than 230 pounds, Hill is the kind of big back that could intrigue the Raiders.
The Raiders have been willing to take chances on players with character concerns if they have turned a corner. With veterans Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden on the team, the Raiders have two good mentors for Hill should he be drafted.
Round 4, Pick 107
Assuming the Raiders don't acquire more mid-round picks by trading down in earlier rounds, the 107th overall pick will be their last before drafting three times in seventh round. Realistically, this is Oakland's last chance to get a starter.
Their best chance to get a starter is probably at a position conducive to producing starters from mid-round picks. Namely, running backs, offensive linemen and linebackers.
Linebackers Shayne Skov, Jordan Tripp and Trevor Reilly could all be good fits for the Raiders and eventually push Nick Roach for the starting job in the middle. Tripp is especially interesting because he's a very good athlete, instinctive, a team captain and played at Montana.
Offensive guards like David Yankey or Cyril Richardson could also be in play for the Raiders with the 107th overall pick. Both players are good fits for Oakland's man-blocking scheme and could play offensive tackle in a pinch.
The Raiders drastically upgraded their offensive line this offseason, and one of the themes of the players they have signed has been versatility. Yankey or Richardson would both provide versatility and be great values in the fourth round.
It's possible the Raiders will have two starting spots at guard up for grabs. Austin Howard is going to get his shot at right guard as long as Menelik Watson can perform at right tackle. If Watson falters, the Raiders will likely move Howard to right tackle and need someone else to play right guard.
Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk is a great athlete who may be a good fit for Oakland's man-blocking scheme and should be available in the fourth round. Seastrunk has been labeled a fit for the zone-blocking scheme, but he may be better in an offense that doesn't ask him to run laterally.
Seastrunk is an exciting athlete who could work into the rotation as a rookie and become a starter as soon as next year. If not Seastrunk, the Raiders will have their choice of running backs who are mostly inferior athletes that don't have the same potential to become starters in a man-blocking scheme.
Round 7, Pick 219
Seventh-round picks this year have more value than normal due to the depth of the draft. The Raiders will still be choosing from a pool of flawed or unknown players, but they will have more options.
Hitting on a late-round pick can turn a franchise around in a hurry, so the Raiders shouldn't be afraid to take some chances. This is the range where it makes sense to draft athletes over football players.
One of the most interesting prospects the Raiders could grab is Syracuse cornerback Keon Lyn, who is 6'1", 200 and ran the 40-yard dash in the 4.3-second range as a junior. He has met with the Raiders, among other teams, according to Syracuse.com. Lyn fractured his kneecap during his senior year. He told Syracuse.com that he was still only 90 percent at his pro day last week and declined to say what he ran in the 40-yard dash.
Lyn is the kind of talented player worth taking a chance on in the seventh round. If Lyn can get healthy, he may be one of the drafts biggest sleepers. You'd be hard-pressed to find him with a draftable grade anywhere on the Internet, but multiple teams appear to be interested.
There aren't that many prospects with Lyn's size-and-speed combination who play cornerback. Lyn also seems to have good agility for a man his size. The Raiders may grab Lyn at the top of the seventh round and hope he is healthy enough by camp to compete for a roster spot.
Round 7, Pick 235
Players who visited with the Raiders like Arizona State safety Alden Darby and Virginia-Lynchburg cornerback Keith Lewis are options starting the seventh round.
Outside of the much-publicized drafting of cornerback D.J. Hayden, general manager Reggie McKenzie has not drafted another defensive back. For two years the Raiders have used free agency to find starters at cornerback and safety, but they could use a few young players to develop.
McKenzie has taken chances on two wide receivers late in the last two drafts. One that could be intriguing is Michigan State wide receiver Bennie Fowler, because he is a good athlete with good size at 6'1" and 217 pounds. Fowler also had a 36" vertical jump and 10'6" broad jump at the combine.
Division II wide receiver Torrence Allen is also an interesting prospect. Allen played for West Texas A&M in the Lone Star Conference. The Lone Star Conference has produced wide receivers Edmond "Clyde" Gates and Johnny Knox as well as running backs Bernard Scott and Daryl Richardson in recent years.
Round 7, Pick 247
The Raiders have tended to look at defensive linemen to develop late in the last two drafts. A player like Northern Illinois defensive tackle Ken Bishop might make sense as their final pick if that trend continues.
Bishop visited with the Raiders, per Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun. Unlike top prospects, visiting with late-round prospects can be a stronger indicator of interest. Bishop is a stout run defender and would back up Pat Sims.
Outside of Stacy McGee, the Raiders don't have much young depth on the defensive line. If the Raiders are looking for ways to carve out roles for their rookies, drafting a defensive tackle who is strong against the run is one way to do it.
Latest Draft Buzz
- The Rams have interest in quarterback Johnny Manziel, per NFL.com. That's to go along with potential interest from the Cleveland Browns. The more likely it is that a quarterback goes in the top four picks, the more likely it is that Khalil Mack or Sammy Watkins falls to No. 5. The Raiders could be in a very good spot to get a guy they want or trade down.
- Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports hears that Raiders owner Mark Davis is smitten with Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr and that pressure could be mounting for the Raiders to take him in the first round.
- Blake Bortles is believed to be the top quarterback on the board for the Raiders per Adam Caplan of ESPN.
-The Raiders may have wide receiver Mike Evans above Sammy Watkins on their board per Pro Football Talk.