Oakland Raiders' Draft Backup Plan for Potential Free-Agency Misses

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistMarch 13, 2015

Oakland Raiders' Draft Backup Plan for Potential Free-Agency Misses

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    General manager Reggie McKenzie and Oakland Raiders’ brass have significantly upgraded the roster through the first wave of free agency, but they still have work to do.

    The Raiders didn’t land any big names to satisfy some of the casual fans, but if you pay close attention to their signings, it’s clear the lesser names were inked at a good value with the opportunity to make a substantial impact on the 2015 season.

    You can view a listing of all the official signings updated daily via Bleacher Report.

    What areas have the Raiders missed thus far? Primarily at wide receiver, defensive end and guard.

    Quarterback Derek Carr still doesn’t have a big-time playmaking offensive skill player. Oakland’s pass rush still features aging defensive linemen Justin Tuck and Antonio Smith. Finally, if McKenzie wants to move Austin Howard to tackle as he mentioned in an interview, via the Raiders' official website, he’ll need to replenish the guard position.

    Though it’s still a fluid situation, here’s a look at some positions and draft backup plans to fill the gaps after the first three days of free agency. 

Draft High on Wide Receiver: Amari Cooper

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    Right now James Jones is Carr’s best weapon on offense. The Raiders made a concerted effort to bring Randall Cobb aboard, but his priorities aligned with staying in Green Bay.

    Ultimately for Cobb, it came down to the desire to play for championships instead of chasing bigger bucks, per Kevin Patra of NFL.com:

    I want championships," Cobb said. "At the end of the day, I want to win championships. I feel like being in this offense and this organization was the best place for me to have the opportunity for me to win championships. That's my goal day-in and day-out to get those rings. I'm going to do everything in my power to help this team get to that position.

    According to BJ Kissel of KCChiefs.com, it seemed going to Oakland didn’t even cross Jeremy Maclin's mind:

    For Maclin, the decision to come back to the Midwest wasn’t just about the proximity to family and his roots, but because of the faces he’d see every day at work as well.

    In the back of my mind, it was either I was going stay in Philadelphia or come to Kansas City,” Maclin said of his free agent status. “Both of those situations made sense. I think with my personality and kind of the way I am, I think this fits me a little better.

    “And then also coach (Andy) Reid, (receivers coach David) Culley, (offensive coordinator) Doug (Pederson), a lot of guys who I had a chance to build relationships with in Philadelphia are here.

    “It just felt like home. It is home and I’m excited about that.

    So where does that leave Carr and the Raiders’ hapless pass offense? Possibly Amari Cooper or Kevin White as the fourth overall pick in the draft.

    After missing out on the top two targets to elevate the offense, McKenzie needs a steady playmaker to put up some points. Defense is king, but an offense capable of taking advantage of a scoring league needs to be addressed.

    When the Raiders make their first-round selection, it’s likely a wide receiver will be the best overall player left on the board, and his name is Cooper.

Draft High on Defensive End: Alvin Dupree (Pending Greg Hardy Rumors)

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    USA TODAY Sports

    This backup plan is contingent on whether the rumors of the Raiders’ interest in Greg Hardy lead to his signing.

    According to Jordan Schultz of The Huffington Post, there’s a 60-40 chance Hardy goes to Oakland, and it makes perfect sense for McKenzie to pounce on the edge-rusher at this particular time.

    According to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report, Hardy will likely be suspended for one or two games, which hurts his value. Additionally, the fact teams didn’t trip over themselves to sign him within the first three days says a lot about his value across the league. 

    The Raiders can possibly sign him to a short-term deal, avoiding a long-term commitment in case he continues to be in hot water with the league. 

    If Hardy signs with Oakland, the need for a pass-rusher drops a bit, vaunting wide receiver as the undisputed top priority of this draft. If Hardy doesn’t sign, draft prospects Shane Ray (Missouri), Dante Fowler Jr. (Florida State) and Alvin Dupree (Kentucky) should all be at the top of the draft board as the possible fourth overall pick.

Draft High on a Guard: A.J. Cann

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    USA TODAY Sports

    In an interview via the Raiders’ official website, McKenzie admitted to having an eye on a guard during this year’s draft class:

    This is a good year for offensive linemen in the draft. We lose guys, it’s our job to replace them. We won’t go in there without interior players. I want to have the best offensive line, so whoever we try to bring in, if someone decides to go, that happens. We’re not going to ever push the panic button.

    That would explain the lack of interest in free agents Orlando Franklin and James Carpenter. McKenzie will likely save some cash by drafting a fresh prospect like Ali Marpet (Hobart College) or A.J. Cann out of South Carolina, the top-ranked guard via CBS Sports draft rankings, to fill the guard position.

    Either way, Howard's repositioning back to tackle and McKenzie’s interest in this class of guards signifies the Raiders will select a guard at one point or another in the upcoming draft.

Draft Another Young Cornerback: Jacoby Glenn

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    As it stands, Oakland’s cornerbacks D.J. Hayden and Travis Carrie have a combined total of 14 starts in their careers.

    Carrie is coming off a fine rookie season, and Hayden was a solid starter for eight games. Nonetheless, these two developing commodities are not the current answer to match up against Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and now Jeremy Maclin in the division, let alone the elite receivers across the league.

    Oakland can still sign solid veterans like Tramon Williams or Patrick Robinson. Alternatively, the team can look to the draft, completely going green in the secondary by adding depth and potential behind Hayden and Carrie.

    Jacoby Glenn is an underrated cornerback out of UCF who has a knack for forcing turnovers. He recorded seven interceptions in his final season on campus. He's an athletic talent who can become a premier defensive back in the league with exceptional coaching.

    The Raiders will likely have higher priority needs for the draft, but Glenn should still be available by the fourth round, per CBS Sports draft rankings.

Draft Another Running Back: Javorius Allen

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    In the interview, via the Raiders’ official website, with the Bay Area media, McKenzie also made it clear he won’t hand the starting job to Latavius Murray on a silver platter. He wants some competition as much as a complement for his upstart running back: “I want to get some players, like I said, somebody to compete with Latavius and guys in the backfield."

    The Raiders signed former Washington Redskins reserve back Roy Helu, per ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan, but he’ll likely take on a similar reserve role in Oakland with occasional goal-line carries and catches out of the backfield.

    There hasn’t been any talk of bringing in free agents C.J. Spiller or Reggie Bush as of yet. Both of the aforementioned backs are potential spark plugs for an offense but have a lot of wear and tear on their tires with myriad injuries in their careers.

    Oakland should consider bringing in some fresh legs to compete with Murray. The second-year RB is still an unproven commodity with only three career starts and 20-plus carries in only two games in 2014. He’s far from an established featured ball-carrier in this league based on his small sampling.

    According to CBS Sports draft rankings, Javorius Allen is projected as a third- or fourth-round pick. As a dynamic skill player with rushing and catching abilities, he matches Helu’s skill set but has the physical tools to elevate his upside.

    Don't agree with the proposed backup plans in this slideshow? Do you have something to add? Want some insight on the Raiders' free-agent rumors? You can quibble about it on Maurice's Twitter account. He welcomes all opinions and viewpoints. 

    Advanced statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com and Sports-Reference.comDraft prospect rankings provided by CBS Sports.


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