After a long wait, the 2014 NFL Draft will kick off on May 8th with first round coverage. The Oakland Raiders hold the fifth pick in the first round and have the option of going several different ways. General manager Reggie McKenzie will face his most important draft to date. He has used free agency to put the Raiders in position to be better. Now, he will face the task of building the team through the draft and adding the impact players he has discussed. Here is the list of picks the Raiders have in the 2014 NFL Draft.
|First Round||5th overall|
|Second Round||36th overall|
|Third Round||67th overall|
|Fourth Round||107th overall|
|Fifth Round||No pick (Matt Flynn trade)|
|Sixth Round||No pick (Matt Schaub trade)|
|Seventh Round||219th, 235th, and 247th overall|
McKenzie is not afraid to make trades during the draft. Last season, he traded down from the third overall pick to the 12th selection and picked up a second round pick. He will likely be active during the process to secure more picks for the Raiders especially because the team is without fifth and sixth round selections. The most interesting spot for a trade down is in the first round and McKenzie will keep his phone line up.
It has been beaten into the ground that Oakland will target players like wide receivers Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans. The team has been linked and shown interest in tackles Greg Robinson, Taylor Lewan, and Jack Matthews. Oakland has done their due diligence of quarterbacks like Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, and Derek Carr. On the defensive side of the ball, linebacker Khalil Mack is a pass rushing talent the Raiders could use.
The importance of building through the draft cannot be overstated. McKenzie comes from a Green Bay Packers organization that prides itself on this concept. McKenzie has emphasized, on a number of occasions, the importance of building through the draft. His strategy to accomplish this is a best player available philosophy. McKenzie has reiterated numerous times, he has players graded a certain way and will take the best available from those rankings.
Despite that philosophy, McKenzie is smart enough to marry his needs and best player available approach. This year, there are a few different positions where Oakland can use help. Quarterback seems the most glaring. McKenzie brought in Matt Schaub to be the starter via trade. After Schaub, the Raiders have Matt McGloin as the back-up. This is a position where the team can use some depth and a prospect to build for the future. Schaub is a stop-gap for a year or two at most. Offensive line is a position McKenzie traditionally gets in the draft. This year will be no different. The Raiders can also use a playmaking wide receiver to take the offense to another level and the 2014 Draft offers a deep class at the position.
Some other positions that the Raiders are likely to address are on the defensive side of the ball. Oakland is in need of cornerback depth and youth. Cornerbacks Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers were brought in via free agency to stabilize the position. They will pair with 2013 first-round pick DJ Hayden. McKenzie will be tasked with addressing that in the draft. In today's NFL, pass rush is always a priority. McKenzie added the trio of LaMarr Woodley, Justin Tuck, and Antonio Smith to bolster that unit via free agency. Despite the additions, the Raiders will be looking to find more edge and inside rushers in the draft.
In his pre-draft presser, McKenzie offered that this is the most excited he has been for a draft. The plan is in place and the scenarios have been gone over in depth. Next up is to find the best player or the best trade for the Raiders.
Tags: 2014 NFL Draft, Football, Johnny Manziel, Khalil Mack, Mike Evans, NFL, Oakland, Oakland Raiders, Reggie McKenzie, Sammy Watkins, Taylor Lewan