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Draft needs: Oakland Raiders

Matt Schaub, Greg Olson AP

The Raiders enter 2014 with a more talented roster than a season ago. G.M. Reggie McKenzie used free agency and the trade market to actively address personnel shortcomings, and some short-term on-field gains are quite possible for Oakland.

The Raiders are also positioned to make a splash early in the 2014 draft. They hold the No. 5 overall pick, which gives them some flexibility, especially if they want to trade down in what is regarded as a strong draft. The Raiders have one pick in each of the first four rounds and three seventh-round picks — a decent, but hardly overwhelming stockpile of selections. The Raiders still have quite a few roster holes to fill, and their free agency haul is only a temporary fix. 

Of course, the Raiders could also stay put at No. 5 and take the best available player. After two consecutive 4-12 seasons, the Raiders must show progress under McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen, which likely explains the organization’s free agency spending — and underscores the importance of getting at least one impact rookie out of this draft.

Here is PFT’s assessment of Oakland’s top draft needs:

Quarterback: The Raiders don’t need an immediate starting quarterback out of the draft, but they would hardly be blamed for addressing the position, as they need a long-term solution under center. Ex-Texans starter Matt Schaub, who turns 33 in June, figures to start in 2014. He is signed for two more seasons, which buys the Raiders a little time. Still, Schaub’s 2013 form left much to be desired. Second-year pro Matt McGloin is the top backup and figures to have a spot on the depth chart even if Oakland drafts a passer.

Defensive end: The signings of Justin Tuck (ex-Giants) and LaMarr Woodley (ex-Steelers) bolstered the Raiders’ pass rush, but Tuck is entering his 10th season, and Woodley has missed 14 games in the last three seasons. A young edge player to keep Tuck and Woodley fresh while learning from these skilled, accomplished pass rushers would be a nice addition to the defensive depth chart. Veteran Jason Hunter, one of the regulars at defensive end for Oakland a season ago, remains an unrestricted free agent, so a little more end depth is needed.

Defensive tackle: The Raiders lost 27-year-old defensive tackle Vance Walker in free agency to Kansas City. Ex-Texan Antonio Smith, a better pass rusher than Walker, looks set to replace Walker on the depth chart. Smith has been durable and productive throughout his career, but he turns 33 in October. In the short term, the Raiders could use another capable player inside to back up the starters.

Cornerback: The Raiders added ex-49ers corners Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers in free agency, but both only signed one-year deals. After drafting a cornerback (D.J. Hayden) in Round One in 2013, the Raiders are probably more likely to select one on the second or third day of the draft this year. Nevertheless, it’s a position that Oakland should continue to address.

Safety: Fun fact: the Raiders got 1,098 defensive snaps from safety Charles Woodson a season ago, per Pro Football Focus data. What’s more, Woodson earned a slightly above-average grade from PFF in 2013. Nevertheless, Woodson will be 38 in October, so adding a young free safety to groom behind Woodson would make a lot of sense.

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13 Responses to “Draft needs: Oakland Raiders”
  1. 87hollywoodhorn says: Apr 23, 2014 10:23 AM

    On behalf of the New Orleans Saints, much love and comraderie is sent to you. We appreciate the dynamic duo that is MJDMC, and dig your uniforms. May you wreak havoc upon your paltry division and live up to the legacy Al Davis bequeathed onto you.

  2. mataug says: Apr 23, 2014 10:33 AM

    2005 was the last year when the Raiders were picking in the first round and it wasn’t a top-15 pick #smh

  3. competitivecompetitioncompeter says: Apr 23, 2014 11:50 AM

    Isn’t Antonio Smith the guy with the Dynasty Warriors sack dance? I’m pretty sure he’s a 3-4 DE, not a DT.

  4. Mike Wilkening says: Apr 23, 2014 12:04 PM

    Smith can play tackle in a 4-3 or end in a 3-4.

    http://blog.chron.com/ultimatetexans/2014/03/former-texan-smith-inks-deal-with-raiders/

    I’d imagine he could play left end in a 4-3 if needed, too. Versatile player.

  5. 4grammarpolice says: Apr 23, 2014 12:11 PM

    I’d draft Clowney, Mack, or Watkins with the fifth pick. If none are available, trade down as many times as possible, draft AJ McCarron late first round, and then use the extra picks on WR, DT and OL.

  6. tucobenedictopacificojuanmariaramirez says: Apr 23, 2014 12:21 PM

    If the Raiders are unable to pick one of the following, trade down:

    Clowney
    Watkins
    Robinson
    Mack

  7. englishguy24601 says: Apr 23, 2014 1:07 PM

    I love how easy people think it is to trade back…who are you going to trade back to?! No one wants to move up?

  8. jaygruntboston says: Apr 23, 2014 1:26 PM

    Raiders #1 draft need: owner.

  9. radrntn says: Apr 23, 2014 1:29 PM

    defense, defense, defense, and some more defense…. in the meantime still need to get a LT for long term, and sign Richie for league min…and let him play LG.

  10. mdobrasz says: Apr 23, 2014 2:45 PM

    Incognito may have learned his lesson by now, so maybe it’s time to give him a shot. It’s a heck of a lot smarter than blowing a high draft pick on a guy like Menelik Watson, just so he can sit on IR all year.

  11. reewilliams2003 says: Apr 23, 2014 4:32 PM

    Get that defense strong. Draft Mack or Clowney.
    Not there, if you can, trade down and pick up Donalde out of Pitt.

    Also, need CB depth. Not sold on Hayden just yet.

  12. jjackwagon says: Apr 25, 2014 2:55 PM

    Who they draft won’t matter in 2014, their schedule is brutal and they will have a tough time just getting back to 4-12 again. The question is “Will the fans & ownership put up with another 4-12 season?”

  13. dhennigan93 says: Apr 30, 2014 2:05 PM

    Real fans will put up with another 4/12 season. For nearly a decade leading to Mr. Davis’s departure people criticized the franchise for outrageous football decisions. As a fan it’s a hard case to to argue. Fast forward to the RM or MD era. People are once again sharpening there pitchforks. How quickly we forget the draft whiffs of the distant and not so distant past. DHB? Jamarcus? DMac….tick tock.. Yes as a fan i’d like to see my team win now and always but what is it hurting to have a direction? One besides down. One based upon sound reasoning. I love you Al but theres more to football than speed and bad attitudes. RM knew what he was up against when he accepted the position. He has wisely straightened up the financial situation without mortgaging the teams future. Ultimately it will come down to talent evaluation. Having Watson, Sio and especially Hayden along with the 2014 draft class perform well would go along way. Even in another 4/12 season.

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