The Oakland Raiders have the fifth pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, and their top targets with that pick are expected to be Khalil Mack, Sammy Watkins, and Jadeveon Clowney in that order of likelihood to be drafted. While the Raiders could very well snag a quarterback in this year’s draft, it makes a lot more sense for Reggie McKenzie to pull a QB in the second or third instead of paying premium at the position with Matt Schaub in the fold and the potential for someone good to slip into the second.
Mack, Clowney, and Watkins are excellent, blue-chip prospects who would immediately be much-needed playmakers on either the Raiders offense or defense. Although the Raiders already have a nice duo of veteran pass rushers in Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley, Clowney would be simply too good to pass up on. Meanwhile, Mack would be a great fit for the Raiders as a DE or OLB, and Watkins would be a big playmaker at WR. Adding Watkins would probably make Denarius Moore a trade chip, as he would be the No. 1 WR with James Jones as the WR2 and Rod Streater as the WR3.
But what if all of those three players aren’t available at No. 5? It’s not inconceivable, and it actually happened in my last mock draft. Since I couldn’t find a trade partner in my head for the Raiders, I was forced to reach a bit for another uber-talented wide receiver prospect in Mike Evans.
In his latest mailbag, ESPN NFL Nation’s Paul Gutierrez wisely stated that the Raiders should look to trade down if none of those three prospects is there at No. 5. Watkins and Mack look like the two most likely options, but both could be gone, especially if nobody in the top four decides to pull a quarterback.
So who could the Raiders trade down for? Gutierrez reports that the Raiders like Pittsburgh Panthers star defensive tackle Aaron Donald “a lot”, and Donald is widely ranked as one of the top ten prospects in the draft class due to his elite interior pass rushing ability. The Raiders have a good group of DTs on paper, but Donald could be too good to pass up on as a dynamic interior weapon in the passing game, especially if the Raiders like him. It wouldn’t make sense for them to take him fifth overall, but they could easily pull him after trading down.