Breaking down the first of five prospects the Raiders need to shoot for in the 2014 NFL Draft: Jadeveon Clowney.
In 2013, the Oakland Raiders were a mess on both sides of the ball. While their offense could barely gain a first down, the defense could not stop giving up first downs. Right defensive end Lamarr Houston provided the only consistent pressure. Defensive tackle Vance Walker and linebacker Sio Moore had good moments but nothing for defensive coordinator Jason Tarver to rely on.
Left defensive end Jason Hunter turned in one pitiful performance after another, accumulating only three sacks and grading as one of the worst players at his position per Pro Football Focus. Luckily, the team is expected to let him walk after a one year deal.
Even if they re-sign Houston, they are thin at the other end of the defensive line. The only defensive ends under contract are Jack Crawford and Ryan Robinson. While both performed admirably when rotated in, they are lackluster options to provide pressure on a down-by-down basis.
By now it is a known fact Houston will take a QB first overall. The second pick, owned by St. Louis via Washington, however is a wild card. St. Louis general manager Les Snead said he is open to trading the 2nd pick. If it weren’t for Atlanta’s previous history of risky trade ups, the Raiders wouldn’t have much competition to trade up to the second overall pick.
Based on the standard draft pick value chart, if Oakland traded their 1st and 2nd round picks in 2014, as well as their 2015 2nd and 3rd round picks, it should satisfy St Louis enough to move up.
While quarterback is a high need, Reggie McKenzie should take a page out of Ted Thompson’s (his boss and mentor in Green Bay) book, and draft the best available player. This year, that would be South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney
Clowney would bring another world to the Oakland defense. Although his junior year stats did not live up to his breakout sophomore year, he showed he could still be a dominant force in 2013 while playing through numerous injuries. Although teams tried to game-plan away from him, Clowney still disrupted opposing offenses on every snap.
At 6-6, 274, Clowney is a monster of a man. He also runs a 4.46 40-yard dash. At that size with that speed, Clowney does not seem human.
Although his highlight hits get him time on Sportscenter, it’s his complete game that makes him the best fit for the Raiders.
His game tape backs it up. His size and strength allows him to drive offensive tackles back into their own quarterbacks and toss aside running backs and tight ends attempting to block him.
Then there’s his speed combined with it. If he is not immediately blocked, he runs through arm blocks and straight into the backfield.
There has not been a defender this good in a long time. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller refers to Clowney as “The Andrew Luck of defenders” , the most pro ready prospect that teams can build around.
If the Raiders pull the trigger to trade up to get Clowney, they will not regret it. Oakland was tied for 18th in 2013 with 38 sacks, as well as 29th in scoring defense.
Even if Reggie McKenzie feels that Blake Bortles, Derek Carr, or Johnny Manziel are good enough to be the Raiders franchise quarterback, there’s no excuse to miss out on Clowney.