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NFL Oakland Raiders

2014 NFL Draft: Oakland Raiders’ 5 Dark Horse First-Round Targets

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5 Unexpected First-Round Options for the Raiders

C.J. Mosley
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

As we’ve all seen in the past, the NFL Draft is full of surprises, especially in the first round. The Oakland Raiders have never been an exception to the rule, and they won't be during the 2014 NFL Draft either. While they have their list of top targets at No. 5 overall, the Raiders could be forced to go in an unexpected direction.

With that in mind, here’s a look at five first-round dark horse candidates for the Raiders.

Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

Jake Matthews
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

Jake Matthews
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Unless the Raiders see Donald Penn as a long-term option – which they shouldn’t – they could seriously consider spending their first-round pick on an offensive tackle. While Greg Robinson will likely be gone at that point, it’s reasonable to assume Oakland could consider Jake Matthews at No. 5. He was once considered the best left tackle prospect of the 2014 draft class, and might be the most NFL-ready.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
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Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Getty Images

Put simply, Charles Woodson isn't going to be around forever. The veteran safety has maybe two more years left before he must hang it up, at which point the Raiders need a plan in place to fill the void. Clinton-Dix is the top safety prospect of the 2014 draft class, bringing a well-rounded game and physical presence to the table. If the Raiders fall in love with him during the pre-draft process, he could be their man at No. 5.

Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

Eric Ebron
Liz Condo-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

Eric Ebron
Liz Condo-USA TODAY Sports

Most of the high-flying offenses of the NFL today include a tight end who can wreak havoc in the passing game. While Mychal Rivera showed some promise last season, he’s certainly no Ebron. The North Carolina product has great speed and size, and uses it to victimize opposing defenses. If the Raiders opt to upgrade the passing game and Sammy Watkins is gone, Ebron could be a consideration.

Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State

Derek Carr
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State

Derek Carr
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Schaub is nothing more than a short-term fix for the Raiders, and Matt McGloin is a career backup at best. That’s why GM Reggie McKenzie will seriously consider addressing the quarterback position in the first round. While there’s a slim chance it happens, if the team is truly sold on one of the top passers, they might just roll the dice. The Raiders have been connected to Carr before, so it’s not completely out of the question.

C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama

C.J. Mosley
Getty Images

C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama

C.J. Mosley
Getty Images

While some may be sold on Kaluka Maiava or Nick Roach at middle linebacker, the Raiders aren’t. The two are serviceable starters, but Oakland’s defense needs a true leader who can man the middle and help revive the hard-nosed mentally the Raiders used to play with. Bringing aboard a player like Mosley, the top inside linebacker prospect, will certain lead their defense in that direction. Plus, the Raiders took an Alabama LB this early before.

Gil Alcaraz IV is the Director of Content for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @GilAlcarazIV, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.