Originally published on Silver & Black Report on May 13, 2014
Now that we’ve given the draft a couple of days to set in, lets take a look back at Reggie McKenzie’s picks and see just how he did.
McKenzie and the Raiders started out with a bang by getting linebacker Khalil Mack. Mack is a defensive playmaker that the Raiders have so desperately needed. The 6-foot-3, 251-pound linebacker will give the Raiders much-needed assistance in rushing the passer while also giving them a versatile linebacker to use around the field. Mack’s versatility is something the Raiders seem to value greatly. Don’t be surprised if we end up looking back on this draft and realizing Mack is the best, or second best draft pick out of this draft.
I don’t think the Raiders were really expecting quarterback Derek Carr to fall to them when they drafted in the second round, but I do know that they’re happy he did. Carr gives the Raiders arguably (there just doesn’t seem to be a consensus number one this year) the best arm in the draft and another opportunity to find their franchise quarterback they’ve been missing since Rich Gannon. Carr is a matured quarterback that is looking to prove doubters wrong that the name “Carr” shouldn’t be a reason to have avoided him. Carr will be given the chance to sit and learn behind veteran Matt Schaub, something can be greatly advantageous to him.
In my opinion, the Raiders knocked the first three picks of their draft out of the park. In the third round they selected mauling offensive guard Gabe Jackson. Jackson is a 6-foot-3, 336-pound guard that could very well end up starting on the Raiders offensive line as a rookie. The Raiders will likely want to rely on the running game in their offense and Jackson could assist in that quite nicely. Projected to be a second round prospect on some boards, McKenzie got very nice value here in the third as he could be a key piece to the offensive line for years to come. Not only did he get a solid player in the third, but McKenzie also acquired an additional fourth-round pick in the process.
McKenzie got that fourth-round pick in his trade with the Miami Dolphins in the third round. With their first pick in the fourth round, the Raiders selected large-bodied Justin Ellis to help their defensive tackle rotation. Ellis provides the defensive line with a big body to help plug up rushing gaps and fills yet another need on the roster.
With their additional pick in the fourth round, McKenzie nabbed up a long-armed, big-framed cornerback out of Utah name Keith McGill. At 6-foot-3, 211 pounds, McGill possesses rare size and speed you see in a corner and is an extremely explosive corner prospect. Graded out to be a second or third rounder by many, getting McGill in the fourth round could turn out to be a steal, especially since the Raiders need help at cornerback with Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers just signed to one-year deals.
The long wait for the Raiders until the seventh round ended when the Raiders selected fellow cornerback T.J. Carrie. Carrie also has solid size to fill the corner position and has punt return experience, something the Raiders most certainly value. Carrie was believed possible to go in the fourth round, so getting a corner prospect like him in the seventh round is a good job by McKenzie.
The questionable pick came in the middle of the seventh round when the Raiders drafted defensive end Shelby Harris, who has been out of football for a year after being kicked off the team due to “conduct detrimental to the team.” Harris was unlikely to be drafted by another team due to his “character issues” and McKenzie could possibly have tried to lure him in via undrafted free agency. But you can’t fault McKenzie for wanting to get his guy while he could, because there’s no telling where he would have signed as an undrafted free agent. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens with Harris and see if he can get back on the football field and make a difference. McKenzie gave defensive tackle Stacy McGee a second chance last year and he’s turned into a nice rotational piece for the Raiders.
The Raiders spent their final pick (#247 overall) on safety Jonathan Dowling. With free safety Charles Woodson getting up there in age, the Raiders needed a safety prospect to find some hopes of filling his shoes with. Dowling likely would have gone earlier in the draft if it weren’t for maturity and character issues, much like the other seventh-round picks. Dowling is a lanky safety that had 14 interceptions his senior year at Western Kentucky.
There’s no doubt that the Raiders took some flyers in the seventh round but there’s nothing wrong with that. McKenzie talked to these guys and he clearly liked what he heard in regards to getting the character issues figured out. If these guys can all stay grounded, then McKenzie could very well have found great value in them as they most likely would have gone earlier in the draft if simply based on talent alone.
McKenzie needed a strong draft with his seat getting seemingly warmer every year, and he sure got it. He was able to fill many of the roster’s holes while also getting very strong prospects and getting the defensive playmaker he needed, and a possible franchise quarterback to groom behind Schaub.
While there’s never anything certain about draft prospects, McKenzie and the Raiders brought hope to Raider Nation with this strong draft.