The dust has settled somewhat on the 2014 NFL draft for the Oakland Raiders. How did they fare in terms of finding value and filling needs?
Round 1 – #5 – Khalil Mack – OLB – Buffalo
Widely graded as one of, if not the best overall player in the entire 2014 class, Khalil Mack was a surprise to have dropped to number 5. The Raiders didn’t hesitate to scoop him up. His value as a pass rusher coupled with great instincts in coverage gives them a complete football player.
Round 2 – #36 – Derek Carr – QB – Fresno State
It’s never wise for a team to put their entire stock in a veteran quarterback cast off from another team. The Raiders made sure they didn’t do that with Matt Schaub when they made another quality value pick by nabbing the strong-armed, precise and fiery Derek Carr out of Fresno State.
Round 3 – #81 – Gabe Jackson – OG – Mississippi State
Hailed for his run blocking ability, Gabe Jackson is one of the biggest, most powerful guards in the 2014 NFL draft class. He should plow open some lanes for the ground attack and has the nimble feet and athleticism to become a stout pass protector.
Round 4 – #107 – Justin Ellis – DT – Louisiana Tech
The Raiders suffered some hits in free agency at the defensive tackle position, so it was important they add some youth to the position. Justin Ellis doesn’t have much value as a pass rusher, but his size and strength should make him a superior run defender.
Round 4 – #116 – Keith McGill – CB – Utah
The NFL is all about trends when it comes to new styles of play. One that is sweeping the league is the implementation of long corner, defensive backs with the height to take on big receivers. Richard Sherman and Patrick Peterson come to mind. Oakland took their turn at that approach by adding the 6’3″ Keith McGill out of Utah.
Round 7 – #219 – Travis Carrie – CB – Ohio
He doesn’t have the size of McGill or elite athleticism, but Travis Carrie flashed plenty of speed at his pro day for Ohio. He plays physical, has a nose for the football and can tackle. He’s a good fit for the Oakland Raiders 4-3 scheme.
Round 7 – #235 – Shelby Harris – DE – Illinois State
An awkward frame and character problems dropped Shelby Harris almost out of the draft. Still he showed good athleticism on tape, has very long arms and could develop into a solid run defender with pass rush potential.
Round 7 – #247 – Jonathan Dowling – SS – 6’3″ – Western Kentucky
The final round is about finding the best talent projects and the Raiders may have gotten a good one in Jonathan Dowling. He hasn’t played safety for very long which has led to some consistency issues. At the same time he has outstanding size, speed and range with a hitter’s mentality. If his discipline can be improved, this is a potential home run.
The top half of this 2014 NFL draft was outstanding for the Raiders. They balanced value and need very well to get some high quality talent to compliment their veteran additions from free agency. The minor negative marks I had was not selecting a receiver and the Shelby Harris pick. I saw a number of higher rated defensive linemen still available. Even so, this draft went according to plan for the Silver and Black.