Through the first three rounds of the draft, the Raiders say they have taken the best players available.
Director of player personnel Joey Clinkscales told Bay Area media Friday that Oakland has “stayed true to the board” in selecting inside linebacker Khalil Mack with the fifth overall choice in the first round, quarterback Derek Carr in the second and guard Gabe Jackson in the third.
In Mack, the Raiders believe they added perhaps the best defensive player in the draft. In Carr, they drafted the quarterback they believe had first-round potential. And in Jackson, they selected a 6-foot-3, 336-pound run-blocking phenom who can challenge for playing time in his first year.
Though the Raiders have a need a wide receiver, the Raiders haven’t been drafting for need, necessarily. They’ve been taking the best players available, explained Clinkscales. He said that trend might continue through Saturday, the final day of the draft, when Oakland has two fourth-round picks and three seventh-round selections.
“I guess there is a point in time where the draft becomes a need, but right now we are still following the board,” he said. “We’re going to follow the board and take the best player available. At a point in time when it becomes a need draft, we’ll do down that line.”
There remain some talented wideouts still available if Oakland decides to go that direction and give QB Matt Schaub another option. Those include the speedy Bruce Ellington of South Carolina, Martavis Bryant of Clemson, Kevin Norwood of Alabama, Jared Abbrederis of Wisconsin and Shaq Evans of UCLA.
Ellington is only 5-foot-9, but can be a game-breaker. Bryant, meanwhile, is a big target at 6-foot-4, and was projected as a fourth- to fifth-round pick.
Some observers were surprised the Raiders didn’t perhaps go for a wide receiver when it came time for their third-round pick, which turned out to be Jackson, a lineman. But Clinkscales said the Raiders stayed true to their scouting reports, made a deal and were able to get the best player available while also picking up an additional fourth-round pick. Clinkscales said it wasn’t necessary to grab a receiver with either the second- or third-round selection. When he was asked if the decision not to take a wideout on Day 2 was a reflection of the talent available in the draft or already on the roster, he said it was “a combination of both.”
“Again, we stayed true to the board,” he said. “We were able to draft Derek and then we were able to move back, get a player that we liked in Gabe and pick up a fourth-round draft pick.”
Said Clinkscales of Jackson: “Gabe is a big, powerful young man. He gives the physicality that we’re looking for in the run game, (and) he’s athletic enough in the pass game to move. We’re excited to have Gabe.”