Oakland Raiders Mock Draft: Final 7-Round Predictions
The Reggie McKenzie Era is entering Year 3 in Oakland, California. Dennis Allen, despite having a record of 8-24, will be the first Raiders head coach to be on the sidelines for three consecutive years since Jon Gruden.
McKenzie has finally given Allen a decent roster to work with after two years of putting the team in salary-cap hell just to be in a stronger financial position moving forward. The new regime's first two years have been far from perfect, leaving many to question whether Allen and McKenzie have much time left.
The general manager's first two drafts have not produced very much as of yet, and McKenzie's best acquisition so far has been signing rookie unrestricted free agent wide receiver Rod Streater, who looks to be a rising star. Linebacker Sio Moore also looks to have a bright future in Oakland, but everyone else is a mystery and has yet to produce.
McKenzie's first pick as the GM in 2012 is in danger of being cut this year. More Raiders draft picks in the last two years have been cut than have started for the team.
So it's safe to say that this is a big draft for the Raiders and could have huge implications for the future of the franchise. So what will they do on draft day? Get your face paint on, Raiders Nation, because the Raiders are going to take you for a ride.
Pick No. 18: QB Derek Carr, Fresno State
The Raiders are in a great spot at No. 5 to make a trade. In this scenario, they find the perfect trading partner.
The New York Jets believe they are a couple of pieces away from making the playoffs. They also have 12 draft picks in 2014, so they have plenty of ammunition. If both Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans are available, I believe the Jets will make a move to draft one of those wide receivers.
They'll send the Raiders their 2014 first- and second-round picks as well as a second- and fourth-rounder in 2015. The Jets will get one of the best WRs, and the Raiders will get more draft picks, which they need.
I believe the Raiders like Derek Carr more than any other quarterback prospect in this draft. By trading down to No. 18, they put themselves in a position to take him. McKenzie has said he would be reluctant to start a rookie quarterback and would like to have him surrounded by talent before he starts.
Carr would sit a year in Oakland behind Matt Schaub and would most likely start in 2015. Schaub was acquired for a sixth-round pick, and his contract was restructured in such a way that he could be cut in 2015 and the Raiders would not owe him a dime.
The Raiders have not had good luck in finding a quarterback in McKenzie's first two years. They've started Carson Palmer, Matt Flynn, Matt McGloin and Terrelle Pryor, and only McGloin is on the roster today. They also drafted quarterback Tyler Wilson in the fourth round, only to cut him twice in 2013.
This franchise needs to find its quarterback. Carr has the arm strength and ability to be the guy for the Raiders for the long term. This franchise must find stability and return to the top. It would be great if Oakland finally had stability at the quarterback position, and Carr could provide that.
Pick No. 36: DE Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State
The Raiders need to improve their defense. For the second year in a row, under defensive coordinator Jason Tarver, the defense was terrible. Oakland has added several veteran pieces on defense, but there is nothing on the roster long term.
Lawrence can come in and be disruptive on Day 1, but he needs time to develop his pass-rushing skills. His physical ability alone could push him into the first round, but I expect him to be there when the Raiders pick at No. 36.
He would be an ideal edge-rusher on third down when the Raiders move Justin Tuck inside to get a rush on passing downs. He does need to bulk up and get a bit stronger, but that shouldn't be an issue.
The Raiders need to make sure their pass rush is improved in 2014. For the last two years, Oakland has been torched by opposing quarterbacks as the defense has struggled to get to the passer. In the last two seasons, Oakland has recorded 63 sacks; to put that in contrast, the Carolina Panthers led the league in 2013 with 60 sacks.
It's no secret that the Raiders need to improve on defense, and this would be a good way to start.
Pick No. 49 (from Jets): DE/DT Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame
Stephon Tuitt would be a great pickup for the Raiders. They could pair him up with Lawrence for years to come. Tuitt would make a solid left defensive end because he can put pressure on the quarterback and he plays the run well. He is "country strong," so he does have the type of strength that Reggie McKenzie likes. Tuitt would also have the ability to move inside to play defensive tackle when needed.
The Raiders lost Lamarr Houston in free agency, but drafting Tuitt could make fans forget about that. Oakland likes to have players who are versatile and would love to use a player like him in multiple roles. Eventually he could replace Tuck at defensive end. Spending time behind a veteran like Tuck could prove valuable for the rookie.
The Raiders need playmakers to be competitive, and Tuitt is capable of making plays from the get-go.
Pick No. 67: Troy Niklas, Notre Dame
With most teams trying to load up on pass-rushers and taking advantage of the deep wide receiver class, the Raiders choose to take a tight end with their third-round pick. Niklas has ideal size for a tight end and loves to block.
The Raiders are trying to be a run-first team and want to be physical. Niklas fits what they need. They currently have Mychal Rivera, who plays the Joker role at tight end, but they lack a true tight end.
Niklas isn't the best route-runner and needs to develop his skills in the passing game, but his 6'6" size can be an advantage in the red zone. Whether he is blocking for Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew or catching touchdown passes from Matt Schaub, Niklas could find his way into the starting lineup because of his blocking ability.
The question is: Will he fall to the third round? If he is available, I expect the Raiders to pull the trigger and have him highly rated.
Pick No. 107: WR Dri Archer, Kent State
The Raiders need to improve their return game on special teams and could use a speedy weapon on offense. Jacoby Ford was supposed to be that guy for Oakland, but he never panned out as a receiver or return specialist. Archer may not be here in the fourth round, but if he is, Oakland needs to consider him.
His best bet is to be a return specialist and slot receiver in the NFL. His speed turned some heads during the combine, as he turned in the fasted 40 time out of all the prospects. It would be fitting if Oakland took the fastest player in the draft—but this time in a round that fits the speedy player's grade. The Raiders have not had much luck with speedy receivers, but this regime values speed in a different way.
Archer's speed and strength, as well as his ability to play the game and contribute in multiple ways, would make him a McKenzie-type of player.
Round 7 Picks
Pick No. 219: CB Deion Belue, Alabama
Deion Belue is an interesting prospect. He could be drafted as high as the fifth round or could fall and not be drafted at all. At this point in the draft, the Raiders need to add players who could make the roster. The fact that Belue has started for Alabama could make him valuable in the seventh round.
Belue had some good plays, but his size and natural instincts could be a problem at the next level. He did have issues in college with grades and that forced him to play for Northeast Mississippi Community College. He also had a foot injury in 2013 that may have limited his ability. Belue may fit better as a slot corner in the NFL, but may just be a practice squad candidate if he isn't able to make the final roster.
Pick No. 235: OT Luke Lucas, Kansas State
Luke Lucas is a 6'8", 316-pound offensive tackle. He looks like he could be developed into a right tackle and possibly move to guard. The Raiders like to move players who have played tackle in college to guard in the NFL. He could be a guy that the Raiders try and develop, but he would most likely be lost in the depth chart in 2014.
Pick No. 247: WR Kenny Bell, Alabama
Kenny Bell is another player from a big school who didn't really have great production. However, in 2012, he showed the ability to make the big play. 2013 was not as impressive for Bell, but the Raiders could take a chance on him and hope he shows why he was recruited to one of the best colleges in the nation.
For more Raiders news and notes follow me on Twitter: @Elias_Trejo