2014 Draft shows Raiders building a Culture
Now that the dust has settled on the NFL Draft, rookie contracts, and rookie mini-camps the Oakland Raiders can be excited about their 2014 draft class. I have never been an advid supporter of GM Reggie McKenzie, however, he should be applauded for having a top-notch draft classes. Besides the talent he was able to obtain, McKenzie proved he has a plan by selecting players who were productive throughout college.
No. 5 draft pick, Khalil Mack was a dominate and physical player throughout his tenure at Buffalo. Eventhough he was the best player on the field most of the time, Mack worked his way to the top of the draft after being looked over during recruitment. Forget the scheme fit and team need Mack fills. Mack is exactly the hardworking cornerstone McKenzie wants to build the culture around. Combined with last year’s top draft pick, D.J. Hayden, the Oakland Raiders should have two leaders of their defense for years to come. Added, the stop-gap veteran players on the Oakland Raiders can hopefully pass some knowledge to the young faces of the Oakland Raiders. Even if Mack struggles growing his game to the NFL, there are veteran guys there who can help ease his transition into the NFL. One thing is for sure, Mack combines nastiness and a work ethic which should make him a dominate force in the league.
On day two of the draft, the Raiders followed consensus opinion by selecting Derek Carr. The Raiders lucked out with this pick. Not only did they get the pass-rusher they coveted at the top of the draft, but a local prospect and pro-ready quarterback tumbled down the draft pick and into the Raiders’ lap. Carr is a raw prospect, but he has an NFL ready arm. His mind should be able to adapt to Pro termenology and pro-defenses, because his brother should have been helping him out with that. Carr was productive throughout his career at Fresno State, and he has the big body the Raiders envision for their quarterback. The former bulldog threw for 50tds and only 9 ints in his final season. Hence, Carr is another highly productive player who has the potential to seize the starting role and become the offensive leader.
With their third selection of the 2014 Draft, McKenzie made a smart move by trading back and obtaining another draft pick. Gabe Jackson from Mississippi State, is not a household name. He should be to those who have watched SEC football the past few years. Jackson dominated the best conference in the NCAA, and should be an immediate starter. Moreover he can be a mauler for years to come, especially if they plan to build a bully on the offensive line.
Ellis on the defensive line is another big body with some good upside. He is a true nose tackle, and should assist the Raiders with their plan on having a versatile defense. Not only will he eat up blockers, but he will suprise people with his pass rush.
The next addition in Keith McGill also helped the Raiders continue their plan on adding versatile defensive backs. McGill’s skillset makes him a capable zone defender. He has the size and skill set to fit into the line-up, instantly. McGill is another blue-collar guy who worked as an auto mechanic. Hence he has the work ethic which will help the Raiders build the type of culture they want. Moreover, he is 25 and should be ready to compete and put food on his table.
In the Later rounds, the Raiders added a few more defensive backs, and a defensive end. The first of the team’s seventh round pick TJ Carrie has a good chance to be a returner, and is a local product from De La Salle. However the next two picks are some of the Raiders most intriguing players. Shelby Harris and Johnathan Dowling both had their own mistakes that lead to character concerns.
Hopefully both of those players can suck up some veteran wisdom from the rest of the time. Either of them could be key contributors at a bargain cost. Especially Dowling, he has the size and looked like a solid prospect at Florida before being dismissed by the team.
This last draft class is an indication that Reggie McKenzie has a plan. He is not easily rattled enough to reach for a pass-rusher or quarterback because of team need. Moreover, it shows that he is trying to build an entirely new culture in Oakland, which will be based hard working and highly productive players. However, it also showed he is not afraid to take a chance on a player late, as long as it entails competition on the roster. Hence, the entire draft showed the Oakland Raiders are building a highly competitive roster. They do not want to just sit back and wait for rookies to compete. Reggie Mckenzie is ready for the rookies to compete with veterans from the start.
In addition here is the podcast version: https://soundcloud.com/silverandblog/raiders-podcast-otas