The Oakland Raiders have the number five pick in a deep and talented draft. Last year, the Raiders had the number four pick in one of the weakest draft classes in years and had a very mediocre result.
Cornerback D.J. Hayden may pan out in the end, but he was clearly a reach at No. 12. Offensive tackle Menelik Watson has the ability to be a dominant tackle but has only played three years of football and one of those years was spent mostly on the bench with injuries. Sio Moore in the third round was a very solid pick for McKenzie. He was the best linebacker on the Raiders in 2013 and has plenty of potential he has yet to reach.
Quarterback Tyler Wilson was a mistake considering the fact that he did not even make the team to start the year. But hindsight is always 20/20. At the time it did not seem like a horrible pick; he was seen as a strong NFL talent in his junior season and much of his senior year was marred by the drama surrounding his former head coach, Bobby Petrino. The rest of the class was just okay, with the only other player of note being tight end Mychal Rivera who has proven himself to be a great value for a sixth round pick.
If general manager Reggie McKenzie wants to keep his job, he will need to find a lot of talent in this year’s draft. Luckily for him, there is plenty of talent to be had. From top to bottom, this year’s crop of players appears to be one of the best in a long time. The only way to tell if this is true is to wait a few years, but without the benefit of a time machine, it looks like a good time to have a top five pick.
The Raiders should be able to land a guy who could have a huge impact right away with the fifth overall pick. But, they could also potentially land a slew of picks by trading back in the first round. With as many needs as the Raiders have, additional picks could be more valuable than any one player.
With a draft as deep as this year’s, starters can be found in the second and third rounds. Trading back in the first and landing a couple of picks in those two rounds could mean landing a couple of starters. The Raiders still have major holes at defensive tackle and cornerback, as well as serious questions about who will be playing guard opposite Kevin Boothe. They could also use an upgrade at middle linebacker and need to improve the depth of the entire team.
The Raiders can trade back in the first round and still grab a guy who will represent a big upgrade to the team while also giving McKenzie an opportunity to upgrade a few other positions along the way. There is a lot of value in having a top five pick this year, but the Raiders are nowhere near being only one player away from a winning season.