Oakland Raiders: Offensive or Defensive Player With the Fifth Pick?


Dec 31, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Texas A&M Aggies offensive linesman Jake Matthews (75) prior to facing the Duke Blue Devils in the 2013 Chick-fil-a Bowl at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

After missing the playoffs for the 13th straight season, the Oakland Raiders are looking to finally take a step in the right direction. With loads of money to spend on free agency and the No. 5 pick in the 2014 NFL draft, they might finally have the chance to change their fortunes.

Building a team starts with the draft. The Oakland Raiders have a plethora of options to choose from with the fifth pick, but of course, it comes down to making the right pick. That means that it isn’t just about getting the projected best player available, but about getting a player that fits well on the team.

The draft is also about filling a positional need. The problem with the Oakland Raiders is that essentially every position could be easily upgraded. Most people would argue that the Raiders should draft a quarterback. Others say that they need more help on the defensive side of the ball than on the offensive side.

I, however, am not inclined to side with either of those groups of people. The Raiders do need a quarterback, but I don’t think the draft will solve their problems.

The only quarterback in the draft the draft that looks like a real franchise player to me is Teddy Bridgewater. Unfortunately, it is doubtful he will be available when the Raiders pick comes around. Blake Bortles is very impressive from a physical standpoint. I am however, not sure that his overall game is good enough to warrant a top-five pick. It is very possible that he could turn out to be a great quarterback, but I think he is too much of a risk so early in the draft.

Then there is Johnny Manziel. I love Manziel. He was THE player to watch in college football the past two seasons. He consistently put on a show on the field, making eye-opening play after eye-opening play. Yet, as much as I want to believe in him, my brain warns me against it. Defenses in the NFL are smarter, bigger, stronger and faster than they are in college football. Much of Manziel’s magic came from plays in which he outran and out maneuvered defenders. It will be harder for him to do that in the NFL. I would be cautious drafting Manziel.

The Oakland Raiders defense could use help as well, but at least they held their own at times last season. For the most part, the Raiders defense seemed to be a decently solid unit. There were times where they seemed lost (remember Nick Foles?) but there is no doubt in my mind that they need less help than the offensive unit. Apart from that, there just aren’t any defensive players, other than Jadeveon Clowney, that are worthy of a top five pick.

If not a quarterback or a defensive player, who should the Oakland Raiders draft? Some people argue Sammy Watkins. I don’t doubt his talent, but I don’t think he is what the Raiders need. They need someone around whom the offense can be built.

That player is an offensive lineman. One of the major reasons the Raiders offense struggled last year was because of a very sub par offensive line. Jake Matthews and Glen Robinson are lineman with top five talent and will be able to anchor a line. Either Matthews or Robinson would join a line that already boasts Jared Veldheer and Stefen Wisniewski. All of a sudden, the quarterback, whoever it may be next year, would have more time to throw. Next season’s running back would find more room to run. The offense will immediately improve.

One more thing to remember,  the draft isn’t the only opportunity the Oakland Raiders have to improve the team. They will have an estimated $63.6 million to spend on players in the offseason.

There is finally a ray of sunshine in the Raiders future.