The Raiders have seven selections in the NFL draft that begins Thursday, but only three of those picks are among the top 100.
And only four of those choices – the fifth, 36th, 67th and 107th – are among the top 170. That’s the number of players with “make it” grades on the board of one NFL personnel evaluator this week, according to Peter King of Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback.
According to King, that 170 mark is about 25 players more than in a usual draft, meaning that, 1) This is a deeper, more talented group of prospects and 2), more rookies could be in line to make impacts on their teams in 2014.
But while three teams – Cleveland, San Francisco and Jacksonville – are in fine position to add “make it” talent, with eight choices apiece in the top 170, the Raiders rank at the bottom with four picks (tied with six other teams).
So, it’s understandable that Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie would be eager to move down from the fifth overall pick Thursday if a player he truly covets isn’t there for the taking.
As the draft gets closer, more reports are surfacing that McKenzie is in fact exploring that option.
Omar Ruiz of the NFL Network this week reported that, “Reggie McKenzie’s phone lines are wide open about that No. 5 pick.”
“According to a Raiders source, they had conversations with three different teams last month about trading out of the No. 5 spot,” Ruiz said. He added that McKenzie told those teams conversations would “pick up” this week. Ruiz reported that conversations would “heat up” before and on draft day.
It’s been suggested by some media members covering the Raiders that McKenzie would use the fifth overall choice if a player he particularly believes can be a difference maker is still available. That group might include Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins, Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack or South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
But if those players are gone, the Raiders would move down to the mid first round, pick up a quality prospect and additional choices among those top 170 – giving the roster more overall quality.
Ruiz also reported that the quarterback the Raiders like more than any other is former Fresno State standout Derek Carr.