2014 NFL Draft: 5 Options for the Oakland Raiders’ First-Round Pick
5 First-Round Options for the Oakland Raiders
Throughout recent history, the Oakland Raiders have not had much luck when it comes to making the most of their first-round picks. From JaMarcus Russell to Rolando McClain, their top selections seem to always flop.
In the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft, GM Reggie McKenzie will be hoping to turn the franchise’s fate around.
The biggest factor in making their next first-round pick count is going for value instead of selecting a high-risk, high-reward player such as Russell or Darrius Heyward-Bey. Finding a player without off-field/character issues would also be a huge boost to their future stock.
Recently, the Raiders have struggled to make their first-rounders count. Even their most recent, cornerback D.J. Hayden, has been extremely inconsistent in his first year with the silver and black. The only Raiders’ first-round pick who has enjoyed any sort of success since 2007 is running back Darren McFadden, but injuries have constantly hindered his ability to be an effective piece of their offense.
One way or another, the Raiders need to make this pick count. McKenzie needs to fill a hole in the roster with a talented player who has a good head on their shoulders and isn’t an injury waiting to happen. If he can do that, Oakland will be well on their way to returning to relevance.
Here’s a look at five players the Raiders could consider when they’re on the clock in the first round of the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft and why those five players fit into Oakland’s plans moving forward.
5. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
Sooner rather than later, Charles Woodson is going to hang up the cleats. At that time, the Raiders need a quality free safety who can step in and fill the void with little to no drop off. Clinton-Dix is arguably the best defensive back of the 2014 class and would provide an excellent secondary mate with strong safety Tyvon Branch. If Clinton-Dix can come in and learn under Woodson, there’s no telling how good he can be for the Raiders.
4. Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The Raiders have been pleasantly surprised by both Denarius Moore and Rod Streater, but neither has proven to be a reliable No. 1 receiver in the NFL. In No. 2 or No. 3 roles, though, they’d be valuable assets in Oakland. By adding an electrifying pass-catcher like Watkins to the mix, the Raiders would finally have a legitimate No. 1 who would provide a perfect target for budding passer Terrelle Pryor to throw to. Watkins is a touchdown waiting to happen – something Oakland could use a lot more of.
3. Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
While Lamarr Houston has had a phenomenal season so far, having a dominant interior force to take some pressure off of him would be a huge boost for the Oakland defense. Nix is a disruptive defensive tackle who could eat up blocks and penetrate opposing offensive lines like no Raiders inside lineman has in some time. Nix may be 340 pounds, but he’s extremely athletic for his size and has the power to be a thorn in the side of opposing run games. The Raiders need all of the run support they can get right now.
2. Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Depending on where they pick, Matthews would be the ideal selection for the Raiders considering their offensive line woes. Matthews is a dominant offensive tackle who has experience on both sides of the line. He’d be able to step in and be a Day 1 starter at either tackle position, using his excellent size and athleticism to keep defenders contained. Matthews would definitely help the Raiders’ offensive line woes, but likely won’t be available when they’re finally on the clock.
1. Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Seeing as Matthews will likely already be off the board, Lewan is Oakland’s next best bet. A similar talent with plenty to offer an NFL offensive line, the Michigan product would also step in and immediate contribute along the Raiders’ front five. Even if McKenzie does decide to bring left tackle Jared Veldheer back in 2013, there are plenty of ways the Raiders could shift around the line to get Lewan involved in the offense.