With only six picks in the draft this spring, Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie does not have a lot of resources to work with to build a team the way he wants to. This explains his multitude of mid-range free agents such as Justin Tuck and Antonio Smith.
The Oakland Raiders have holes across the roster and McKenzie has done a pretty good job putting serviceable talent into those spots. However, McKenzie comes from the tutelage of Ted Thompson in Green Bay, who built many good teams through the draft. McKenzie already has worked well with that plan, finding some quality starters (Sio Moore, Mychal Rivera, Rod Streater), while also some questionable finds (Tyler Wilson, Tony Bergstrom, Miles Burris).
For the second year in a row, Mckenzie has a high first round pick. While filling up on free agents, the Raiders no longer have any serious pressing needs which might be cause for a mistaking reach of a pick with the fifth overall pick. Here is some guess picks and analysis of what they could do in the draft.
5: Khalil Mack-OLB-Buffalo: I previously wrote on Mack to the Raiders here. Behind Jadaveon Clowney, he is the best defender in this class. Not only is he a menacing pass rusher, but his run stoppage ability and skills in coverage give him versatility that even Clowney could have. With the top QBs likely gone by 5, Mack is the top choice here to infuse young talent into the team.
36: Dominique Easley-DT-Florida: If he had not torn his ACL this past season, Easley would have been a top-5 pick. His first step explosiveness is unreal. While he may be still recovering in the fall, Oakland has enough depth in front of him to allow him to take his time returning to the field. As of now, the high cost is worth the long term benefit for years down the road, when Easley can be a dominant interior force for the franchise.
67: Zach Mettenberger-QB-LSU: He tore his ACL late in the season, but Mettenberger showed well enough in his senior season to have been considered for late first round talent. He has one of the best arms in this draft with reasonable football IQ. He fits perfectly in Oakland to sit behind Matt Schaub for a season learning and recovering. If his knee is well enough, he could be taking snaps away from Schaub by mid season.
107: Charles Sims-RB- West Virginia: Sims is one of the most complete backs in this draft. He is a decisive runner who is a major asset in the passing game. Numerous scouts have compared him to Matt Forte for his versatility. With injury prone backs, Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew in front of him, Sims could push for a role early in his career.
After the fourth round, the Raiders have a bit of waiting to do, and it is unlikely that McKenzie trades up barring someone being available in the fifth who should have gone in the second that the team likes.
219: Aaron Lynch-DE-USF: Lynch is one of the more intriguing options. Was a beefed up end in an odd front, where he used strength to keep opposition off balance and create upfield penetration. As a smaller player on the edge of an even front, he displayed burst and quick hands. Has the potential to play all over, even as an edge rusher. Made too many bonehead mistakes off-the-field, which allowed him to drop to the 7th round. Wouldn’t be pressed to play early, but could see rotational snaps behind Tuck and Woodley.
235: Dezmen Southward-S-Wisconsin: Southward is a great late round candidate. He has only played football since his senior year in high school, but started over 50 games for the Badgers. Is an extremely violent player and takes on blockers and runners with no regard for his own health. Not great in coverage, but could make a prime special teams player while learning more of the defensive aspects of the game.
Honestly, the Raiders can stand still with each of their picks. If Reggie can trade back a bit from his third or fourth round picks, he could pick up an extra seventh maybe and get some added value.
Some of the picks may be medical red flags, but many great players were drafted later because of red flags. Many GMs will gladly take an injured player in the mid rounds if he has a 1st round talent when healthy. While Reggie may have to win next year, these picks can help set up the franchise for years if they pan out.