Finally the 2014 NFL Draft is upon us! I remember being in middle school waking up at 5am west coast time, to watch the draft in the middle of the week. God bless my late Mom, she would let me skip school to watch it all day, all 12 rounds. Now the NFL has evolved into a prime time three day/7 round event, so I leave work early to be home at 5pm west coast time, to watch the first round with my 7-year-old son. I will do the same on Friday and spend all day Saturday with my son, watching the picks, just like many of you. So who will our beloved Oakland Raiders draft this year?
There has been lots of speculation who the Raiders will pick and when. Pundits around the league have expressed the Raiders need a Quarterback and a home run hitting Wide Receiver. Most mock drafts have the Raiders taking either position or both with their 1st and 2nd round picks. I don’t think the Raiders need to draft either position in the 2014 NFL Draft and here is why.
With the addition of Matt Schaub, he has become the starter for the Raiders. He is a proven winner in this league, not a career backup or a young guy who had one game of success. He is a legit NFL Quarterback who has proven he can lead a team. He is coming off the worse season of his career, but I believe he will have a bounce back year. Early candidate to watch for comeback player of the year. The consensus is that there are no sure-fire franchise Quarterbacks in this draft. With that being said, I don’t think there is any QB the Raiders can draft that would be further ahead than Matt McGloin with his 7 NFL games of experience (6 starts). Without a top notch QB prospect in the draft, I think the Raiders are better off seeing how Schaub rubs off on McGloin. I think it’s very possible McGloin could be ready to take over for Schaub in 2 – 3 years. There are just too many needs to waste a top pick on a QB, when you have a 2nd year player like McGloin who has shown he can move the offense.
The Raiders added solid veteran James Jones to a young receiving group that already included Rod Streater, Andre Holmes, Denarius Moore, Juron Criner, Brice Butler and Greg Jenkins. Streater and Holmes made plays last year and D.Mo showed his rookie year he can also make plays. I think James Jones can lead this group, as he did the group in Green Bay the last couple years. The 2014 NFL Draft is touted as very deep at the WR position, with really only 1 or 2 guys considered elite. Elite in the sense of being head and shoulders above the rest of the class, but not in the sense of sure-fire NFL game breakers or guys who dominated the NCAA. With all the young talent the Raiders currently have at WR and the depth available in this draft at that position, I think the Raiders picks could be better used on other needs.
The Raiders have four of the top 107 picks then don’t pick again until 112 picks later. With those first four picks the Raiders need to fill their biggest needs of which QB or WR, I don’t believe is. The QB’s available are not a better option than what they have on the roster. For those clamoring for a home run hitting WR who some think Sammy Watkins is, I point to the depth available in the draft, on our roster and our lack of picks available in the first four rounds. I believe NFL games are won in the trenches and with Defense. That is why I think the Raiders should spend their picks on Lineman and Defense. The Cornerbacks we have on the roster is not very encouraging. We have last years rookie DJ, who I think we will see take a huge leap this year. Then we have the two San Fran castaways, who are only on one year deals. After that we have Chimdi Chekwa? Taiwan Jones? I’ll take any of the college CB’s available over those two guys. The Raiders are in a similar situation as last year, where one injury is trouble and two injuries are devastating to the secondary. They need to start looking to build that Cornerback group for the future. Reggie proved last year he has no qualms using his first round pick on a CB, something that would have made Al proud.
The Raiders should also look to bolster the offensive and defensive lines. They brought in three free agent lineman on offense, but only one of them is under 30. We all know how much this group struggled last year, especially at the guard positions. Reggie showed last year, he will use a second round pick on an O-lineman and this year we could see one of the top guards drafted by the Raiders. I really like the kid from UCLA Xavier Su’a-Filo. Reggie wanted to keep Veldheer, but that didn’t pan out. I wouldn’t mind seeing Jake Mathews being drafted, setting up the offense for years with a couple of lineman with solid NFL lineage, him and Wisniewski. On the defensive line, the same thing. Brought in a handful of free agents, most on the north of 30. Need to add to that group and I really like Aaron Donald. He is a guy I also wouldn’t mind seeing drafted at #5.
With the depth in this draft, the smart move is to trade down and gather more picks. Hopefully Reggie can do that and add to the trenches and secondary. I believe for this year, the Raiders have enough depth at QB, WR, RB to focus on other areas in the coming draft. Looking forward to seeing how it plays out this Thursday to Saturday and watching it hit the field this season. In Reggie We Trust.