Aug 23, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; General view of an Oakland Raiders helmet on the field during the game against the Chicago Bears at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NFL Draft Review: Oakland Raiders

1. Khalil Mack, OLB Buffalo
2. Derek Carr, QB Fresno State
3. Gabe Jackson, G Mississippi State
4. Justin Ellis, DT Louisiana Tech
4. Keith McGill, CB Utah
7. T.J. Carrie, CB Ohio
7. Shelby Harris, DE Illinois State
7. Jonathan Dowling, S Western Kentucky

The Oakland Raiders had a fantastic draft for the most part.  They went in with an obscene amount of needs and could basically just bring in as much talent as they did.  The only thing that puts a damper on what Oakland did in the draft is how badly they dropped the ball in free agency.  There could be nothing but enthusiasm coming from this draft and in some ways, there still is, but there is a huge ‘what if?’ element that has to drive onlookers and fans especially insane.

The first thing that went right for the Raiders was how passionate the Buffalo Bills were to get Sammy Watkins.  It is unclear if the Raiders would have taken Watkins were he available, but if they would have wanted to go that route, the Bills did them twice the favor.  The reason Buffalo paid as much as they did is they were bidding against the Atlanta Falcons that were hot after Khalil Mack.  As a result, the Bills moved up and got their man, allowing Mack to fall to the Raiders and they got their man.

Mack can do just about everything and he can do it from a strong side linebacker or a rush linebacker spot depending on how the Raiders want to use him in a given situation.  The Raiders pair him with Sio Moore, who had a good rookie year and suddenly, they have a pair of dynamic, athletic linebackers that can make plays.  There is always a risk with taking a linebacker this high that is not strictly a pass rusher, but Mack’s talent and attitude are both great for what the Raiders need and who they want to be.

The Raiders followed that up by getting Derek Carr to be their quarterback in the second round.  Carr was one of the two quarterbacks that I had a first round grade on and this is huge for the Raiders.  They have Matt Schaub, so they can sit Carr and get him to be a finished product.  Carr has an incredible amount of talent both in terms of physical ability and the intangibles he brings to the team.  In a lot of ways, they got a ton of passion for the game on both sides of the ball with their first two picks.

Carr has the talent to be an elite quarterback in the NFL and it will all come down to getting his footwork right.  His arm is up there with just about anyone in the NFL now.  The fans are going to absolutely love his passion, his energy and his drive.  He is easy off the field.

If getting two first round talents was not enough, the Raiders got my top guard in the entire draft in Gabe Jackson.  Jackson is the ultimate gap scheme guard and an absolute bull dozer and earth mover.  He has a ton of experience playing as a four year starter at Mississippi State and does a great job in pass protection.  The only issue that Jackson really has to work on is his leverage and adjusting to the fact he is not simply bigger and stronger than everyone on the field; just most of them.  Jackson should be able to start early and he could have a rookie year like Larry Warford did last year, who also went in round 3.

This is where the ‘what if?’ comes into play.  Getting Gabe Jackson is huge.  Along with Stefen Wisniewski, they have a good amount of talent in the middle of the offensive line, but imagine how strong they would look if they did not completely botch the negotiations with Jared Veldheer.  Instead of a young, long term power house in Veldheer, the Raiders were forced to go with Donald Penn.  That is really unfortunate.

The Raiders continued to have a good draft going into round four when they took Justin Ellis out of Louisiana Tech.  His size and sloppy looking build would suggest Ellis is slow, but he is really nimble off the ball.  While I think his best position is as a 1-technique nose guard, there are definitely people out there that think he can play as a 3-technique, which just goes to show how athletic some feel he is.  The Raiders get more beef in the middle of the defense that can hopefully allow their linebackers to fly around and make plays.

Again, this is where that ugly ‘what if?’ comes into play.  Lamarr Houston is now with the Chicago Bears.  The Raiders would look much different if he was retained and with the Raiders for the long haul.  There is far less indication that the Raiders mishandled the negotiations here like they did with Veldheer, but if those two players are Raiders, the feel of this team is much different.

I am not a big fan of Keith McGill for a few reasons, but I understand the selection.  He has an enormous wingspan and overall size to play corner or safety.  He was a JUCO star at safety before moving to corner at Utah.  My issue with McGill is his age combined with a significant shoulder injury from college and overall some extremely mediocre tape.  It is not unreasonable that they made this pick, but my expectations are rather low.

The seventh round picks the Raiders picked have an intriguing amount of upside with the exception of Jonathan Dowling.  That pick was a little perplexing, but on the whole, if he falls short, it was the third of three seventh round picks.

The Raiders are in the argument for having the best draft in the league.  They used their first four picks on players that should be starters early in their careers with three of them having (in my estimation) first round talent.  For as ugly as life as a Raiders fan has been in recent years, this could be the draft that keys a turn around.  Nevertheless, there is that nagging feeling of what could have been if they had Veldheer and Houston still there and the Raiders were adding these players to them.

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Tags: 2014 NFL Draft Oakland Raiders

  • Pridenpoise

    There’s no doubt, the Raiders screwed up by not resigning Veldheer, and i don’t give a rats ass what anyone says, Reggie misplayed his hand, and lost, but that’s over with, as for Houston, he never wanted to stay, to him I say, good luck trying to win a Super Bowl in Chicago last I checked Cutler was the QB, and he won’t be delivering a Championship anytime soon, so screw Lammar. Reggie’s draft has been impressive, and the Free agency was decent, we are definitely improved, but talk of playoffs is premature, especially with our schedule.

    • severeraiderz

      Jv wanted out and made it quite clear by pricing himself over what the raiders were willing to give. It is a tactic that players often times use when they are looking to leave a team without taking a publicity hit. They can simply claim that they really wanted to come back but the team gave them a disrespectful offer. JV let his brother be the point man on the negotiations, that says a lot right there

      • Pridenpoise

        Keep drinking that kool aid, we have another one, Veldheer NEVER wanted to leave, Reggie lowballed him and it back fired. Who gives a shit who his agent was. Reggie has egg on his face after this, but you keep telling yourself whatever helps you sleep at night. Just don’t try selling it to me, I know the facts go spin your fairy tale elsewhere.

      • Pridenpoise

        Just because you’re regurgitating some crap story, does not make it FACT. Your an idiot if you think Veldheer proclaimed all through the season and offseason how much he wanted to remain a Raider, and then out of nowhere foes a complete one eighty. Why don’t you look at his contract that he signed with the Cardinals, and tell me he’s overpaid, the Raidets offer to Saffold was millions more than what their offer to Veldheer was, FACT. His brother being his agent means nothing, all agents are sleaze balls, if you haven’t figured that out yet then get your head out of your ass. Your WRONG, I’m right, and Reggie knows he screwed the pooch on this one. I love it when these so called fans defend Reggie’s every move, if he told you the Sky was green you would agree with him. Morons.

        • severeraiderz

          The fact that all you can do is attempt to insult me and provide nothing but speculation with no facts shows me that you’re the idiot and you need to get your head out of your ass. If JVs new contract was so small doesn’t that show you more how eager he was to get out of Oakland? If his grievance was that he was offered a low ball contract in Oakland, then took a low ball contract in AZ, does that not show you that all things being equal he would rather get out of Oakland? He was trying to negotiate his contract through the media in an attempt to drum up public support and pressure the organization in to moving more swiftly in offering him a contract extension that was to his liking. Just because he said he wanted to comeback dodoesn’t make it so. Bottom line is that he had a chance to come back and he opted not to. I believe that he was initially low balled, but that’s part of negotiating. Instead of countering the Raiders, him and his team took the next best offer from another team, which was still below what I believe his market value is.

          • Pridenpoise

            You sir are the moron, I’ve tried to EXPLAIN to you, not through a bunch of blogs that you’ve read on the internet that Reggie low balled Veldheer FACT, one that you admit to, you tool, one may I remind you that is an insult to a guy who says he wants to remain here, and always did, not good faith bargaining, and weather or not the Raiders wanted to make a counter offer is not the issue, asshole. He basically told the Reggie to go screw himself, and all things being equal the Raiders only wanted to get back into the JV game when he was on his way to Arizona. It’s funny how when Reggie ass was held to the fire he didn’t screw around with Saffold, another mistake, he bucked up because he knew he had fucked up by letting Veldheer walk. I also realize that just because someone says they want to come back it doesn’t make it fact, but this guy had no reason to lie, or mislead, pretty much any player these days that have any intention of testing FA make it known. So as I said take your fairy tale and blow it out your ass, Reggie blew it, I don’t give a rats ass if you want to blow Reggie, he BLEW IT. and don’t give me some link to a site and tell me that’s your proof, I’ve read more than enough “links” to support my case. Like I said I don’t give a shit what you think, I know what I know. It didn’t take Reggie long to come out and try and play spin doctor, and if you’re asking me to believe him, you’re more ignorant than I thought, maybe you should go hang out with the Donkeys fans.

          • severeraiderz

            You’re just a Dumas and the reason that raiders fans get no respect. We have the most passionate fan base, but a fan base full of idiots like you that drown out the 95% that are actually intelligent. You don’t understand how a negotiation works or how players use the media and fan base for leverage in a negotiation. You understand how a player being viewed as a commodity could upset a family member being the point man in a contract negotiation because of the emotions that they have invested. You’re just an idiot and I’m done discussing this with you because you don’t have the intelligence to comprehend what I’m trying to explain. Enjoy trolling somebody else, jackass.

          • Pridenpoise

            I’ve been a Raider fan longer than you’ve been on this earth, and because I don’t choose to believe what Reggie says after he brilliantly screws up a negotiation with a player who was drafted by the organization, and played his ass off for us, and had no reason to lie about his intentions, just like Houston who basically told the Raiders I’m leaving. You’re a fucking moron, that clicks on a link with Reggie proclaiming that ” the kid just didn’t want to be here” and that’s your proof, you asshole, Reggie was getting hammered for screwing up this so called negotiation, and had to do something to try and save face, so assholes like you can say he never wanted to be here, he was always intending to leave. As for trolling, your the fucking moron who responded to my comment, next time keep your trap shut, nobody cares about your misinformation, go lick Reggie’s coat douche bag. Now blow away you bother me. The reason Raider fans look bad is idiots like you defending every stupid move the organization makes, I’ve been a fan for close to forty years, and I will be a fan long after Reggie’s been fired, you on the other hand can follow him to whatever team he ends up with. See if you can comprehend this asshole.