If you asked a hundred different people about the Oakland Raiders‘ plans for the fifth pick in next month’s draft, you’d very likely get a hundred different answers.
Some think Texas A&M‘s Johnny Manziel will be the pick. Others say Clemson‘s Sammy Watkins. Some believe the Raiders will be there to catch South Carolina‘s Jadeveon Clowney when he falls to the fifth spot, which is probably wishful thinking more than anything. And still others say the team will trade down to accrue more picks.
Nobody knows what to expect as we get ever nearer to draft day, and when it comes to doling out even the smallest nugget of information or even the slightest hint, GM Reggie McKenzie‘s lips have been tighter than spandex shorts on a hippo.
Many are assuming that the Raiders will be taking a receiver with the fifth pick, while many others believe it will be a quarterback. Having addressed some of their glaring offensive problems with their free agent acquisitions though, some are projecting that Oakland is going to opt for defense with that pick. Some are saying that in particular, the Raiders are looking hard at University of Buffalo standout Khalil Mack.
Ordinarily, Mel Kiper‘s opinion is about as useful as a used Kleenex, but his latest mock draft is just the latest in a chorus of mocks that are saying the same thing. And it’s interesting to note that the nobody from the Raiders organization has said word one about Mack, though they’ve been downright chatty when it comes to talking about some of the other prospects in this year’s draft.
Is it possible that where there’s no smoke, there’s fire?
On paper, taking Mack makes sense. He’s an absolute beast on defense who makes things happen. He’s a high-impact player with the potential to be a real game-changer for Oakland. Taking him would add depth to what was arguably one of the only bright spots on the team last season. And paired with standout Sio Moore, they could anchor one of the fiercest linebacking corps in the NFL for years to come.
Though it’s not a huge area of need, taking Mack at five seems like a smart, solid pick. There is absolutely no doubt that he’s the real deal, and that he’d contribute to the Raiders’ retooled defense. He’d be a fantastic addition.
But would he be the right pick?
With the coveted veteran pocket passer McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen have long been looking for in Matt Schaub, it’s now up to the team to surround him with offensive weapons. One of the bigger areas of need on the offensive side of the ball is an explosive, playmaking receiver. Somebody like Watkins, or A&M’s Mike Evans.
There’s little doubt that either receiver would have an immediate impact, but this draft is deep and rich with receiving prospects. It’s feasible that the Raiders could pick up a less-touted, but just as explosive receiver in the later rounds, whereas a talent like Mack is most certainly not going to be available.
Should Mack, Watkins and Evans be available at five, and one or more of the most certainly will be, McKenzie is going to have a tough decision to make. The pundits think it’s going to be Mack — at least they do today. Does McKenzie’s silence on the subject confirm the idea? Or is it just another smokescreen? We’ll find out in just a few weeks.