The Oakland Raiders are high in defensive tackle prospect Aaron Donald, and ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez told us that much in a recent mailbag feature. He also stated that the Raiders won’t take him with the fifth overall pick and would take him if they trade down. That would take place if Khalil Mack, Sammy Watkins, and Jadeveon Clowney were all gone by the time the Raiders are on the clock at No. 5, in which case trading down would make the most sense. The Raiders have put out feelers in case they need to trade down this year, but I have a feeling that they would be willing to take Mike Evans, who is squarely in play for the Cleveland Browns with the fourth overall pick, at No. 5 if they can’t find a suitable trade partner. With the amount of sellers and lack of buyers for top picks, the Raiders could very well be forced to take someone at No. 5.
Per a league source close to the National Football Post’s Jason Butt, the Raiders are willing to take Donald with the fifth overall pick in the draft, because they have him graded high enough to the point where Reggie McKenzie and the organization would feel comfortable enough in taking him there.
The Raiders have talent at defensive tackle thanks to the likes of Antonio Smith, but Donald would give the Raiders pass rush a whole new dimension with his Geno Atkins-like upside as a pass rusher. He was the most productive defensive player in college football, and he somewhat makes up for his lack of size in the running game with motor and smarts. I wouldn’t take Donald and No. 5 and would rather trade down or draft Evans there, but Butt reports that the Raiders could be forced to take Donald if Evans is gone and no legitimate trade partners emerge. If that’s the case and Clowney, Mack, Watkins, and Evans are all gone in the top four, then the Raiders would have no issues with drafting Donald. That would be a worst-case scenario option, and the Raiders would simply be trying to make the most out of it.