Why the Oakland Raiders Shouldn’t Use #4 On Amari Cooper

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Aug 30, 2014; Charlottesville, VA, USA; UCLA Bruins linebacker Eric Kendricks (6) lines up against the Virginia Cavaliers at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

3. Defense Wins Championships

The Raiders, since Reggie McKenzie has taken over, have looked to be a team that is going to be built around defense. When Jack Del Rio was hired as the new Raiders head coach, that message seemed to be reinforced.

The axiom that defense wins championships is not old and played out in the quarterback-driven, pass-happy 2015 NFL. The Seahawks won two consecutive conference titles and a Super Bowl by playing aggressive, strong defense. The Patriots have won four Super Bowls and appeared in six Super Bowls over the past 14 seasons in large part because they always had great defenses. The Ravens won the Super Bowl a couple years ago with superior defense. The 49ers made it to that very same Super Bowl because they had a good defense.

Reggie McKenzie has used both his 1st round picks as the Raider GM on a defensive player: DJ Hayden in 2013, and Khalil Mack in 2014. He’s had 24 draft selections as Raider GM, and has used 15 of them on defensive players, including six of eight in the 2014 draft. He clearly has an agenda and that agenda starts with his defense.

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  • The Raiders also have glaring needs on the defensive side of the ball, as was highlighted in the previous section. Antonio Smith and Justin Tuck are both aging veterans who are entering the final year of their respective deals. Nick Roach, another aging veteran, missed all of last year due to a concussion, a frightening prospect for his future. While DJ Hayden and TJ Carrie both showed some improvement last year, there’s still no true #1 corner on the Raider roster as of right now. Charles Woodson is likely entering his last NFL season. Tyvon Branch missed most of the last two seasons at the strong safety spot. Benson Mayowa is a capable player but certainly not a star as a rush end.

    The Raiders have three legit, clear-cut, long-term starters on defense right now: Justin Ellis, Khalil Mack, and Sio Moore. The Raiders have a defensive head coach and a defensive-minded GM and yet last season the defense was lousy. Meanwhile, the 2015 draft is loaded with defensive talent that can solve all these questions for the Raiders.

    While Leonard Williams may not fall to the Raiders at the #4 overall pick, there are a number of other defensive stars that could, or, again, the pick could be leveraged to move back and get a player like Eric Kendricks while adding an extra pick in a later round.

    Of course Leonard Williams could fall. If Tennessee decides that Zach Mettenberger isn’t the answer to the quarterback question, they could take Marcus Mariota, and then Jacksonville may choose a rush end like Randy Gregory or Shane Ray at 3, leaving Williams for the Silver and Black. Obviously you take Leonard Williams at 4 if he falls there. No question.

    Next: Reason #4: Trade Down Possibilities