2014 NFL Draft primer: Oakland Raiders
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The 2014 NFL Draft starts on Thursday, May 8, and every team will look to infuse youth and talent into their rosters. This is the latest primer in our NFL Draft two-a-days that looks at each team and which potential first-round picks would be a good fit.
PICK NO. 5: OAKLAND RAIDERS
2013 record: 4-12
Key offseason acquisitions: DE Justin Tuck, WR James Jones, OT Austin Howard, QB Matt Schaub, OT Donald Penn, DE Antonio Smith, DE LaMarr Woodley, CB Tarell Brown, CB Carlos Rogers, RB Maurice Jones-Drew.
Key offseason departures: OT Jared Veldheer, RB Rashad Jennings, DE Lamarr Houston, CB Mike Jenkins, CB Tracy Porter.
Biggest holes: Quarterback, offensive line, wide receiver.
For all the improvements the Raiders made this offseason, they still have quite a few things that still need fixing, particularly at the offensive skill positions.
They traded their sixth-round pick for ex-Texans QB Matt Schaub, who had a career-high 3.9 percent interception rate and a career-low 2.8 percent touchdown rate in 2013. Schaub, 32, may not be a viable long-term option, so the Raiders would be wise to think about taking their QB of the future in this draft.
The best fit at this point would be UCF's Blake Bortles. Bortles has the physical traits that teams look for in a quarterback - he's 6-5 and 232 pounds, yet moves surprisingly well and can run if needed. He still needs to improve his footwork and throwing mechanics, but he could develop into a solid starter in the Ben Roethlisberger mold.
Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel could also be an option. He certainly has the swagger for the silver and black, as demonstrated by his many off-field escapades. On the field, though, "Johnny Football" is an exciting playmaker who excels at improvising when the play breaks down. The biggest questions: Can his 5-11 3/4 frame hold up in the NFL, and can he prove he's mature enough to handle the spotlight?
There's also Teddy Bridgewater. The Louisville product is the most pro-ready of the top QBs -- strong arm, good accuracy, good decision-making, ability to read the defense pre-snap and toughness to take a hit in the pocket. However, his draft stock has plummeted throughout the offseason due to concerns about his size (6-2, 214 pounds) and an "average" pro day.
Auburn's Greg Robinson, if he's still available, would help rebuild the Raiders' offensive line. He's very athletic with good burst and strength (32 reps on the bench press at the Combine). He can get to the second level with ease in run-blocking, though he needs refinement as a pass blocker. He could start at either left guard or left tackle immediately.
It's unlikely that Sammy Watkins slips this far, but if he does, it looks like he wouldn't get past the Raiders. He'd be an explosive No. 1 option with great speed, acceleration and hands. Drafting Watkins would also make newcomer James Jones into a reliable No. 2 option, which is what he was at times with the Packers.
The Raiders could also look at Texas A&M's Mike Evans, though a top-five pick may be a bit high for him. Evans is a strong-handed, imposing physical presence who would be incredibly tough to cover in the red zone. He has a great catch radius (thanks to his 35 1/8-inch arm length) and exhibits great body control when going up to high-point the ball or make a tough catch.
Of course, a trade down may not be out of the question - especially if the three quarterbacks fall, or if they want Evans but don't want to reach for him.
Potential Day 2/Day 3 options include Pitt QB Tom Savage, Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews, LSU WR Jarvis Landry, Indiana WR Cody Latimer, UCLA guard Xavier Sua-Filo, Mississippi State guard Gabe Jackson and North Dakota State tackle Billy Turner.