Drafting Derek Carr could be a risky move for the Raiders, as the team sees the quarterback taking more of a back-seat role in 2014.
Best move: Sitting tight the first two rounds. OK, so, I’m cheating a little bit here but given general manager Reggie McKenzie’s proclivity for wheeling and dealing, no one would have been surprised had the Raiders traded down for more picks. But with the way the draft unfolded, they merely had to let linebacker Khalil Mack fall into their laps at No. 5 overall and quarterback Derek Carr at No. 36 overall. In Mack, the Raiders got an instant difference-maker on the defensive side of the ball, a player who many observers saw as being the potential No. 1 overall pick. In Carr, the Raiders made a gutsy move in taking a player who, if all goes well for them, will not see the field next year, but could be the team’s franchise quarterback.
Riskiest move: Let’s go with the Carr selection. No, not because it shoudn’t pan out; it should. But because as the Raiders embark upon Year 1 of their reconstruction, they needed as many immediate impact players as possible in this draft. And Carr, by the Raiders’ own plan and admission, will not contribute much -- if anything -- in 2014. From an immediate on-field impact standpoint, there were other players at other positions available. The risk here, then, is McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen drafting the QB of the future for a future that, if the bottom falls out this year, they will not be a part of in Oakland.
Most surprising move: Since taking over as Raiders GM, McKenzie has made a point to bring in what he terms high-character, low-maintenance players. Last year, he stuck his neck out for defensive tackle Stacy McGee, who had DUI and marijuana incidents, but he stayed out of trouble and began to make an on-field impact late in the season. This year, McKenzie used a fourth-rounder (No. 116 overall) to draft Utah defensive back Keith McGill, a huge cornerback at 6-feet-3, 213 pounds who has some personal baggage besides giving up 29 completions on 59 passes his way, per STATS, and getting just one interception in two years at Utah after being converted from free safety. In 2012, McGill was arrested for DUI and possession of stolen property and missed nearly the entire season with a shoulder injury. McGill, 25, was all-Pac 12 last season with 12 pass deflections. “I’ve been trying to stay clean and trying to show everybody that that was the past and that’s exactly what it was,” McGill said in a conference call Saturday. “All the teams that passed on me, they’re going to realize it was a big mistake and the Oakland Raiders are going to realize that it was a really good draft pick.”
File it away: McKenzie likes to keep things close to his vest, but judging by the size and power of the linemen he’s taken in this, his third draft, he showed his hand, especially with the selections of left guard Gabe Jackson (6-foot-3, 336 pounds) in the third round and defensive tackle Justin Ellis (6-2, 334) in the fourth. The Raiders are returning to a grind-it-out mantra on both sides of the ball. And keep this in mind -- rather than take defensive end Michael Sam, the SEC defensive player of the year, the Raiders used the second of their three seventh-round picks on a defensive end who did not play last season after being dismissed from his team for detrimental conduct in Illinois State’s Shelby Harris.