By all accounts, Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews are the best offensive tackles in the upcoming NFL draft.
Both could be taken among the top 10 picks. Both could become Pro Bowl-type players.
And both should be bypassed by the Oakland Raiders when it comes time for them to use the No. 5 overall choice in the first round.
Not because Robinson, of Auburn, or Matthews, of Texas A&M, wouldn’t make a difference on the offensive line. No doubt they would.
As Peter King of Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback pointed out in a story this week on the two players, each has tremendous potential. Robinson, he wrote, has the ability “to become one of the all-time greats at the position.” Matthews, the son of Pro Football Hall of Fame lineman Bruce Matthews, “is without question ready to play in the NFL right now.”
But the Raiders this offseason already have invested heavily in the offensive line – bringing in Donald Penn, Kevin Boothe and Austin Howard – and used their second-round choice last year to take Menelik Watson. Because of that, it’s hard to believe some mock NFL drafts in which the Raiders take either Robinson or Matthews. Though a team can always benefit from investing in its offensive line, the Raiders – with an already-improved front five – need playmakers. They need offensive and defensive stars who can take over a game and create havoc against AFC West opponents.
That means the Raiders, with the fifth pick, need someone such as wideouts Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney or linebacker Khalil Mack – or, if they truly believe a quarterback can be a future star – one of the top-rated players at that position for the future.
As general manager Reggie McKenzie said in January, after a second straight 4-12 season, the Raiders have needs “with an s” – multiple needs. And in particular they need a playmaker with the No. 5 choice.
“When you can add a playmaker to your team, that’s what your shooting for,” said McKenzie.
As good as Robinson and Matthews are and will be, the Raiders with the fifth overall choice need a player who can change games in an instant.