Originally published on Silver & Black Report on Feb. 6, 2014
ESPN's draft experts Mel Kiper, Jr. and Todd McShay both updated their mock drafts on Thursday, marking their first shift in opinion since their first mock draft was released.
Kiper remained consistent with his Raiders pick stating that the Raiders would go with Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
Kiper acknowledges that the Raiders need a quarterback but believe that if the board goes as he predicts (which is still a very early prediction), then the Raiders may go for the best play maker on the board which would be Watkins. Kiper has QB Johnny Manziel (to Houston Texans), OT Greg Robinson (to St. Louis Rams), DE JaDaveon Clowney (to Jacksonville Jaguars) and QB Teddy Bridgewater (to Cleveland Browns) going in order ahead of the Raiders.
This would mean that the Raiders would just miss out on Bridgewater and would pass up on UCF quarterback Blake Bortles, along with OLB Khalil Mack and OLB/DE Anthony Barr.
McShay has the top five going differently with the electric, but sometimes controversial, Manziel falling to the Raiders and becoming the fifth-overall pick for Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen.
The Raiders certainly need to draft a quarterback and have missed having a franchise quarterback since Rich Gannon. McShay recognizes that fear that some front office personnel hold with Manziel's size but also acknowledges his "special improvisational skills, creativity and running ability."
In his top five, he has Clowney (to Houston Texans), Robinson (to Rams), Bridgewater (to Jaguars) and Bortles (to Browns) going in front of the Raiders pick. In taking Manziel, the Raiders would once again be passing up on Barr and Mack but would also be passing up on Watkins this time.
It's certainly still early and the draft always remains fluid, but it's worth taking a look at two different directions McShay and Kiper could see May's draft going. The first day of the draft is on May 8, and a lot can change in between now and then, especially with the NFL Scouting Combine at the end of the month.