“With the fifth pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Oakland Raiders select…” And Raider Nation holds its collective breath, anxiously awaiting the next few words out of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s mouth.
You’re a Raiders fan. This is one of the few things that you have to look forward to right now. Your team isn’t playing in the Super Bowl so all you have to look forward to is what’s going to go down the minute the Super Bowl ends. Well that and hoping and praying to pretty much ANY deity that you can possibly think of that the Denver Broncos DO NOT hoist the Lombardi trophy come Sunday.
So what do we think, Raider Nation? What are those next few words out of Goodell’s mouth going to be? Is it going to be, “Johnny Manziel, quarterback out of Texas A&M”? Or will it be “Jadeveon Clowney, defensive end out of South Carolina”? Maybe “Anthony Barr, linebacker out of UCLA”.
The Raiders’ fan base likes to sit and speculate on what general manager Reggie McKenzie will do and one can’t help but wonder if that opening line, “with the fifth pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Oakland Raiders select”, causes him to break out into a sweat. Is his mind already made up?
In Manziel’s career at A&M, he has passed for 7820 yards with 63 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. Clowney’s South Carolina career consisted of 24 sacks, 85 solo tackles along with 45 assisted tackles, nine forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. At UCLA, Barr was credited with 10 sacks, 43 solo tackles in combination with 23 assisted tackles and six forced fumbles.
What the Raiders could do with their first round pick has sparked debate nation wide. Is it prudent to bring in a rookie QB before shoring up the offensive line? Should the defense be the spotlight of the Raiders’ first moves?
The Raiders are in need at so many positions in this offseason that anticipation for McKenzie’s next moves grows exponentially as the days drag by. Cap space is now wide open, but the first move is shrouded in questions. With so many needs, how do you assess which need to address first? Where does McKenzie even start?
Many are of the mindset that this is where the Raiders turn to the draft and use that high pick to draft their next franchise quarterback. I, on the other hand, am hoping that Goodell walks onto that stage at Radio City Music hall to say, “The Oakland Raiders have traded their fifth overall pick to…” The Raiders already have young QBs on roster who have the potential to be great if groomed properly.
Hopefully, they trade down to acquire a few more picks and then pick up a veteran QB who can help McKenzie and staff determine if the young QBs can develop enough to make an impact on the Raiders’ offense in seasons to come.
This past season saw an offensive line that struggled to provide the QB with adequate protection making fans posit that even the best of the elite QBs would not have stood a chance behind a line like that. The defense started the season off with quite a furor, at times carrying the team where the offense failed to produce.
Injuries hit the defense hard and Raider Nation saw a unit that was worn down and stalled halfway through the season. The defense would definitely benefit from solid pass rushers, which is another reason that I’m hoping that the first pick gets traded down. Defensive players aren’t necessarily “sexy” picks so good draft picks will still be available later in the first round.
Raider Nation, the one fan base in the NFL counting down the seconds until the Super Bowl ends. The Raiders’ offseason will be critical this year. With the vast amount of cap space coming available, the Raiders will be afforded with a lot more leeway with acquiring players and adding depth. But no matter what happens, the Raiders have the opportunity to drastically upgrade their roster with the number five pick. Whether it be with a defensive player, a QB or a trade, the pick has a lot of value and presents a big opportunity for Reggie McKenzie.
So what do you think? How will Goodell finish that sentence? “With the fifth pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Oakland Raiders select…”