The Oakland Raiders are going to have a number of options at the fifth pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. They are in serious need of upgrading their quarterback position and could go that route in the draft. They have needs along the defensive line so if Jadeveon Clowney falls to them it would be difficult to pass. The Raiders could also use help up front on the offensive line, which makes a scenario where tackle Jake Matthews falls to them interesting.
It very early to be discussing draft stock and draft position especially because these prospects have not tested at the combine, gone through interviews or had their game film reviewed with a microscope. However, the Raiders are in a position where they must find an impact player at the fifth overall pick. With cap room and draft picks, this is the year Oakland must make serious improvements.
The offensive line is such an important unit to a team's success. The Raiders have struggled up front for the past two seasons. They have had a number of injuries play a role in those struggles, but need to revamp the line. They have two building blocks in left tackle Jared Veldheer, who missed the majority of the season with torn triceps, and center Stefen Wisniewski. Veldheer is a free agent this offseason and a priority resigning for Oakland. The rest of the line consists of Khalif Barnes, Lucas Nix and Tony Pashos. The Raiders spent a second round selection in last year's NFL Draft on Menelik Watson, but he was injured most of the season and never able to be on the field to get up to speed.
Last season, the Raiders offensive line allowed 44 sacks. They cannot be held accountable for all of those because there were scenarios where quarterback Terrelle Pryor held the ball way too long looking to extend plays. They were embarrassed by the Kansas City Chiefs allowing nine sacks in a single game. The unit also must work on cleaning up penalties. They did a nice job run blocking, allowing the Raiders to finish 12th in the league in rushing, averaging 125 yards per game.
Assuming the Raiders are able to get a deal done with Veldheer, they have a left tackle locked up. Would they then select Jake Matthews at the fifth pick to play right tackle? That would be a risk especially with their other needs.That would also mean that a second round pick from last year, Menelik Watson, would have to move inside to guard or be used for depth. They also have plenty of money to lure free agents to Oakland. That could be the better way to rebuild the offensive line.
The only way Matthews, who is the consensus top rated tackle in the draft, is available is if Clowney and three quarterbacks go ahead of him. Another scenario is if a player is a late riser up boards and is taken in the top five. The 6'5", 305 pound Matthews would be a strong addition to the Raiders offensive line. The All-American has played both right and left tackle protecting Johnny Football. General manager Reggie McKenzie likes to build the team from the lines back. He rightfully would consider Matthews to get the team bookend tackles for the future and improve the line greatly.
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