In just over two weeks, the National Football League (NFL) will converge on New York City for the 2014 NFL Draft. The 79th annual meeting of the NFL Players Selection Meeting as it is officially known, starts on Thursday, May 8 and concludes on Saturday, May 10 at Radio City Music Hall.
Event – 2014 NFL Draft
Location – Radio City Music Hall, New York City, New York
Date/Time – May 8, 2014 – First Round (8 PM Eastern Time), May 9, 2014 – Second and Third Round (7 PM Eastern Time), May 10, 2014 – Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Round (Noon Eastern Time)
The Oakland Raiders finished the 2014 season with a 4-12 record and will have the fifth pick in the first round of this years’ draft. Entering the off-season the Raiders most obvious needs were at the quarterback, offensive line, and wide receiver position. These needs were somewhat addressed during the off-season free agent period with the signing of Matt Schaub (quarterback), Austin Howard (offensive tackle), Kevin Boothe (offensive lineman), Donald Penn (offensive tackle), and James Jones (wide receiver). These off-season moves allow the Raiders to draft the best available player when their pick is up in the first round. As a Raiders fan, here are the players I believe the Raiders should draft in rounds one through four if they are available.
Sammy Watkins, Wide Receiver (Height: 6-1 | Weight: 211)
School: Clemson (ACC)
Hometown: Fort Myers, Florida
With defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (Houston Texans), offensive tackle Greg Robinson (St. Louis Rams), quarterback Johnny Manziel (Jacksonville Jaguars), and linebacker Khalil Mack (Cleveland Browns) off the board the Raiders select wide receiver Sammy Watkins from Clemson University. Watkins made an immediate impact with the Tigers during his freshman season. He was selected as an Associated Press first-team All-American as well as a Freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of America. He started 10 out of the 13 games in his first year and had 82 receptions for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns. His production was down in 2012, starting only seven of the 10 games he played in. Prior to the season he was charged with two counts of misdemeanor drug possession and served a two game suspension. In 2013, Watkins set career highs with 101 receptions for 1,464 yards and tied a career high with 12 touchdown receptions. He finished his three year Clemson career with 240 receptions for 3,391 yards and 27 receiving touchdowns. Watkins also showed some flash in the return game with 58 kick returns for 1,338 yards and one touchdown.
Xavier Su’a-Filo, Offensive Guard (Height: 6-4 | Weight: 307)
School: UCLA (Pac-12)
Hometown: Pleasant Grove, Utah
The Raiders addressed their offensive line needs in the off-season with the signing of Donald Penn, Austin Howard, and Kevin Boothe. The Raiders should be ecstatic if offensive guard Xavier Su’a-Filo from UCLA is there with the fourth pick of the second round. Su’a-Filo started in 13 games for UCLA in 2009 before leaving school to serve a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. After returning in 2012, he re-enrolled at UCLA and started all 14 games at left guard during the season and was voted All-Pac 12 First Team. Su’a-Filo started all 13 games in 2013 and again was voted to the All-Pac 12 First Team. Additionally, he won the Morris Trophy, which is given to the most outstanding offensive linemen in the Pac-12.
A.J. McCarron, Quarterback (Height: 6-3 | Weight: 220)
School: Alabama (SEC)
Hometown: Mobile, Alabama
The Raiders traded for quarterback Matt Schaub this off-season and have already given him the starting job. Schaub turns 32 years old in June of this year and the Raiders know he might only have a few productive seasons left. I think the Raiders look at a young quarterback for Schaub to mentor with the third pick of the third round and Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron is the choice here. After becoming the Alabama starter in 2011, he led the team to a national championship, passing for 2,634 yards and 16 touchdowns. In 2012, he led Alabama to a second national championship, this time passing for 2,933 yards, and a school record 30 touchdowns. In 2013, he won the Maxwell Award (college football player of the year) and finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting. He set the Alabama school record for passing yards with 3,063 yards and added 28 touchdown passes. During his time at Alabama, McCarron had a 36-4 record and at the end of the day is a winner!
Shayne Skov, Inside Linebacker (Height: 6-2 | Weight: 245)
School: Stanford (Pac-12)
Hometown: Guadalajara, Mexico
In week three of his junior season he suffered a season ending knee injury, came back in 2013 and set a career high in tackles with 109. He also added 13 tackles for loss, five and half sacks, and three forced fumbles. He was named an Associated Press third-team All-American in his senior season.
The Raiders do not have a fifth round pick (traded to the Seattle Seahawks) or a sixth round pick (traded to the Arizona Cardinals) but do have three seventh round picks. Predicting who they draft in these rounds would be a difficult task. Some players I think that could be available in this round that I would be in favor of drafting include defensive tackle Eathyn Manumaleuna from Brigham Young University, tight end Marcel Jensen from Fresno State, and cornerback Bennett Jackson from Notre Dame.
What are the chances I selected the exact players the Raiders will draft in the NFL Players Selection Meeting next month? Probably slim to none but we won’t know until the draft. So stay tuned!