After yet another losing season, the Oakland Raiders find themselves holding the fifth overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Among the positions of need is a franchise quarterback, a player who could elevate the Silver and Black back to the prominence they were accustomed to before the last decade.
Enter Johnny Manziel, a player whose reputation precedes him. Whether it’s his off-field troubles or his in-game antics, Manziel has the charisma to draw attention to himself. Whether that relates to the gridiron in the NFL is a different question.
The former college star will forego his remaining college eligibility and take his talents to the NFL, but could he have the same success? Most scouts seem to think he can. They compare him to Russell Wilson and Fran Tarkenton. I wouldn’t be as hasty in elevating him to that status, but it’s difficult to ignore his intangibles
At 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, he would be a smaller player then his peers at the position. Johnny Football, as he is affectionately known, is a very aggressive runner and takes a lot of hits. That style of play will not last in the NFL. Heading into the 2013 season the buzz was around the read option and the pistol offense, but defenses figured them out and offenses were not prepared to put there franchise cash cows in harms way.
The Raiders have many needs and I think they would be better served addressing areas like a pass rusher or a wide receiver that high. I am still a believer in giving Matt McGloin a year to see his potential, but also leveraging the risk by drafting a quarterback in the third or fourth round like Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenberger or Logan Thomas–who could all be available.
Manziel, as good as he was in college, still represents a player with significant risk being a bust. For a franchise in dire need of top tier talent it would be difficult to pass on players like Jadeveon Clowney and Sammy Watkins. The consensus among NFL talent evaluators is that this draft is significantly more talented than the last and the Raiders would be well served by building around a marquee player like Clowney over Manziel, who could end up a bust.
My picks in the first three rounds would be Clowney, Jordan Mathews and Mettenberger if they’re available. In my opinion, the top three quarterbacks in this draft have huge upside but also a bust factor. The deep quarterback class means some good talent will fall down the charts, but the receiver class is considered to be top heavy so it makes sense to draft a receiver high.
The Raiders have so many needs that it would be difficult to go wrong picking any player other than a quarterback. History suggests that teams picking at the top tend to draft conservatively and teams drafting in the early teens often get great players, so trading down could be another option for the needy Raiders.
This off-season could be interesting for Raider Nation, with record cap space and a complete draft class. The goal is to improve the roster significantly and I don’t think Manziel alone could do that.
I would like to congratulate the great Ray Guy for making the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. It’s an honor for Raider fans to put in the first punter, but the great Tim Brown had to wait at least another year.