Oakland Raiders 2014 Mock Draft

David Wilson – Apr 28, 2014

It is now that time of the year when Mock drafts are actually meaningful, because we have enough information about the prospects, and the interests of each team in those prospects to make (semi) realistic predictions.

The Raiders, like the rest of the teams in the League, have to declare prospects that they have meetings with. History has shown that such players usually have a good chance of getting drafted by the teams that have shown interest in them, although this is by no means always the case.

Oakland has certainly done due diligence with regard to this year’s quarterback class, including meetings Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, Derek Carr, and Teddy Bridgewater. They have also met with four others (Tom Savage, Logan Thomas, Tajh Boyd, Zack Mettenberger), making it the highest position group with which the Raiders have met.

Still, I don’t think Oakland takes a quarterback in the first round for a number of reasons, and here are my predictions for the draft.

1. Houston Texans – JaDeveon Clowney DE – South Carolina. There is no QB worth the number one pick although there will likely be a run on QB’s in the second round, where Houston picks first. The scouts unanimous choice as the best player is Clowney, and I believe the Texans take him at number one.

2. St. Louis Rams – Greg Robinson OT – Auburn. If the Rams keep this pick, and they may not, Robinson is most likely the player they take as they need offensive line help. Robinson is an amazing athlete for such a huge man, and whilst my pick would be Jake Matthews, Robinson’s higher ceiling will get him drafted here. The Rams have also shown interest in Sammy Watkins and Khalil Mack, so anything is possible at number two, including a trade down.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Blake Bortles QB – Central Florida. The Jags are happy that the number one QB on the board falls to them at number three. They need a QB, and they take Bortles because Chad Henne isn’t the answer to their problem.

4. Cleveland Browns – Derek Carr QB – Fresno State. The factory of sadness is always quite difficult to predict, because they routinely make such awful choices. They have had private workouts with all top quarterbacks, but Carr’s stock has been rising and rumours are strong from within the organisation that Carr will be their guy. If they wait until their second first round pick at 26, he will likely be gone. They could take Mack or Watkins here, and hope Teddy Bridgewater is there at 26, but I think Carr is their guy.

Which brings us to Oakland, and if the draft does indeed fall this way, they will really have a choice of two very good players. Whether  they do or not simply depends on how many quarterbacks get selected with the first four picks.

In my mock,  Sammy Watkins (WR – Clemson), and Khalil Mack (LB – Buffalo) are still on the board..

My prediction, and my preferred choice, is Mack. He was a huge producer in college (75.0 TFL, 16 forced fumbles, both NCAA records). I really think he is a special player, and will be a difference maker.

What stands out for me about Mack on his tape, other than the fact that he does everything well, is that he beats his man almost every down. That’s what the Raiders defense lacked last year, players who could win one on one matchups, and that forced them to blitz more than any other team in the league to generate pressure.  I look at tape of other players who had more sacks last year than Mack (Trent Murphy/Marcus Smith), and you find that on many of their sacks were coverage sacks, or they were schemed free, or that a blocker just plain missed their assignment.

Mack just consistently beat his man for his sacks, sometimes two men. I’m not talking fullbacks and tight ends, I’m talking offensive tackles.

So for me, Mack is the prediction and the best choice.

Whilst I haven’t been a fan of Reggie McKenzie’s dealings in free agency, what he has done is left the Raiders with no glaring weaknesses they absolutely must address in the draft. That means they can take the best player available.

For all my criticism of McKenzie, that is something he has done well.

If Mack goes earlier (entirely possible), and Watkins is still available, then a trade down (maybe with Detroit) is on. There is likely to be significant trade interest for Watkins, or even Bortles if he is still on the board as the first quarterback, which puts Oakland in a good position. Teams are less likely to trade up for Mack, despite his high grade.

Don’t rule out Aaron Donald either.

When you look statistically at the best defensive lineman in college last year, it was Donald and not Clowney. In fact it wasn’t even close. Why? Because Donald didn’t tank his senior season, and got his sacks and TFL despite being double and triple teamed all year (the reason people give for Clowney’s low numbers).

I love Donald, and despite being a little undersized (6’ ½”, 288lbs), he is strong as hell. He rag dolled 340lb guard Cyril Richardson around at the Senior Bowl, and his ability to create pressure up the middle should not be undervalued in a division with Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers. Donald is a difference maker with a great feel for the game. Like Mack, he has been creeping up draft boards consistently for the last 2 months as scouts go back over the film.

Round 2 – Aaron Murray QB – Georgia. The Raiders will not doubt take a quarterback, and they have met with eight prospects so far (not including Murray). I look at AJ McCarron and other quarterbacks who might go in the second, and I just don’t see it. I’m totally with Tony Dungy, when you look at the tape of Aaron Murray it is very impressive, and although he is unlikely to go in the first round, he is my top rated quarterback. He is an SEC four year starter, consistently accurate, and is an underrated deep passer. My prediction that the Raiders scouting staff pick this up and take Murray. I truly believe he is the under the radar star of this quarterback class.

Round 3 – Will Sutton DT – Arizona State. Sutton did not have a good senior season, and also didn’t play well in the Senior Bowl week, which has caused his stock to drop. Most probably this is the result of him gaining 25lbs (from 290lbs to 315lbs) at the request of his coaches, and losing that first step quickness that made him such a force earlier in his college career. The Raiders have shown interest in Sutton, and if he falls to round three, they get a bargain interior pass rusher when he loses the weight. He was already down to 302lbs at the Combine.

Round 4 – Carrington Byndom CB – Texas. Dennis Allen loves his cornerbacks, and met with Byndom during a good week of practice for Byndom at the East- West Shrine Game. Byndom needs to put on 10-15 lbs, but has the speed (4.33 40) to be an NFL cornerback. He is a very willing run defender, hitting anything that comes near him. That makes him a Dennis Allen type of guy. He covers well, and Oakland need another young corner to go with DJ Hayden. The rest of the secondary is…old.

What the Raiders have after round four is three seventh round selections, and they really could go anywhere with those.

Ben Gardner (DE – Stanford) wasn’t a Combine invite but had a great Pro Day, and has been in for a visit this week. Jason Tarver knows what he is getting as ex-Stanford defensive coordinator, which gives the Raiders a better assessment of Gardner than most teams.

The 7th round is a crap shoot though, and anyone who says they can predict it is optimistic at best.

Last year I said Oakland would trade the pick, and got that right, and the year before than I predicted (somehow…) Tony Bergstrom would be the Raiders first pick (3rd round compensatory).

If I get it right again this year, I’ll be a happy man.

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