The Oakland Raiders have the opportunity to make a big impact on the 2014 roster in the upcoming NFL Draft. With the number five pick in a deep draft, they will have a number of high caliber college prospects to choose from as well as ample opportunities to trade back. The first round is as unpredictable as it has been in years and how the Raiders will handle their pick is no different.
In large part, that is probably due to the fact that general manager Reggie McKenzie and the Raiders themselves may not know what they are going to do yet.
In years past, it was relatively easy to predict who would be available at the number five spot. This year, pretty much the only sure bet is that Jadeveon Clowney will not be there when the Raiders make their pick. Besides that, the top four picks could go any number of ways. Ideally, one of the big time defenders, Clowney or Khalil Mack, falls to the Raiders and it is an easy decision to make.
The Raiders spent a lot of their free agency dollars adding to the defense, but that unit is far from complete. One of the biggest needs is for an impact player who can define what this defense is. Getting Mack or Clowney would give the Raiders just that, but this is highly unlikely to happen. Clowney will almost certainly be gone by then and the Raiders would be very lucky if Mack slipped to No. 5. That leaves the Raiders with very good players to choose from but no one that screams of being a “must take” at that point.
But the Raiders do have another option that also creates an ideal scenario: trading the pick. Moving back a few spots and adding another selection in the second or third round makes a lot of sense. They could still grab a very good defensive player like Aaron Donald or Anthony Barr and also have the chance to add an additional potential starter with the newly acquired pick. While it would be great to land a stud like Clowney or Mack, the roster needs help at so many positions that it’s hard to argue with the opportunity to grab a good player in the first while also adding another pick at the same time.
No matter how the first four picks of the draft go, the Raiders will be left with a tremendous opportunity to improve the team. Tonight we’ll find out which path they choose.