Even now, with just a day to go before the NFL Draft, nobody has a clue what the Raiders will do in the first round.
But here’s who the Raiders need: Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
And if Watkins isn’t available with the No. 5 overall pick, Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie should take Texas A&M wideout Mike Evans.
Yes, the Raiders have multiple needs. They couldn’t go wrong taking a pass-rushing linebacker (Khalil Mack), a young defnsive tackle (Aaron Donald) or a quarterback of the future (Johnny Manziel) if they truly believe he can succeed in the NFL.
But what the Raiders need most is offensive playmakers in 2014, and what Watkins or Evans would do, instantly, is upgrade the offense, give quarterback Matt Schaub a much better chance to succeed and allow the Raiders to better compete in an AFC West where the Broncos, Chargers and Chiefs can put up points in a hurry.
And, while Schaub likely isn’t the Raiders’ long-term answer at quarterback, Watkins or Evans could be long-term, productive No. 1 wide receivers for now and later. Added to a group that includes Rod Streater, James Jones, Denarius Moore and Juron Criner, Watkins or Evans – both big, fast and productive wideouts – would give Oakland options all over the field.
After a second consecutive 4-12 season in 2013, McKenzie said the Raiders need playmakers. And Watkins and Evans fit that description better than any other offensive players that will be taken in Thursday’s first round.
Watkins, at 6-foot-1, is a first-team All-American with terrific speed who’s considered perhaps the best college wide receiver available since Calvin Johnson. Reads one scouting report from NFL.com: “Has rare speed, soft hands and the big-play ability to challenge NFL defensive backs as a rookie.”
And if Watkins isn’t on the board when it’s the Raiders’ turn to pick, they should take Evans, who was Manziel’s go-to receiver at A&M.
Evans is a huge target, at 6-foot-5 and 238 pounds, and has long arms (35 1/8 inches) to battle with the bigger defensive backs who are becoming popular in the NFL. The former Div. I basketball recruit had 69 catches this past season for 1,394 yards and 12 TDs.
With either Watkins or Evans, the Raiders should strike gold and give Oakland its best chance to be a better football team in 2014.