AFC West: Teddy Bridgewater

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Minutes after selecting Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack with the fifth pick of the 2014 NFL draft, Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie was asked if he thought his quarterback of the future might still be available.

Mind you, this was when Blake Bortles had been the only quarterback taken.

“Yes,” McKenzie said softly, “there’s an opportunity for that. Yes.”

[+] EnlargeDerek Carr
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesDerek Carr passed for 5,082 yards with 50 TDs and eight interceptions in 13 starts last season.
So by the time the dust cleared on the first round Thursday night, Bortles, who was taken third overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars, was joined by Johnny Manziel, who fell to 22nd and the Cleveland Browns, and Teddy Bridgewater, who went 32nd in the final pick of the night to the Minnesota Vikings, who traded up to get him.

Might Fresno State’s Derek Carr, who has long been linked to the Raiders, still be on the docket when Oakland is scheduled to make the fourth pick of the night, No. 36 overall, or will the Houston Texans, who badly need a quarterback and lead off the second round, make it a family affair by drafting the younger brother of the man they made the first overall pick in 2002, David Carr?

From the Raiders’ perspective, it’s no secret they believe they are set with Matt Schaub for at least the next two years, and they even feel comfortable with backups Matt McGloin and Trent Edwards. But the feeling is also they would like to draft a project in the middle rounds, someone like Pittsburgh’s Tom Savage. Currently, the Raiders’ fourth-round pick is at No. 107 overall.

One plausible scenario has the Raiders, who do not have picks in the fifth or sixth rounds but hold three in the seventh, trading back in the second round to acquire more selections, especially if they are not truly in love with a player at No. 4 in the second round today.

McKenzie, though, said “no deal was presented, only interest” for the No. 5 overall pick on Thursday. With it not clear if there will be a market today for the Raiders’ second-rounder, they have options.

Mack certainly addressed a need and was the best player available as well.

So, besides Carr, who passed for 5,082 yards with 50 touchdowns and eight interceptions and completed 68.7 percent of his passes in 13 starts last season, who is a potential target for the Raiders in the second round?

Here is a look at five possible prospects:

USC receiver Marqise Lee was the 2012 Biletnikoff Award winner as a sophomore, but had a down junior year. At just under 6-foot and 192 pounds, there are questions about his durability, but he is a playmaker after the catch.

Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio is massive at 6-7, 321 pounds, but there are concerns about his surgically repaied knee. He is considered an ideal fit to work in a power-blocking scheme.

Minnesota defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman is a disruptive if inconsistent force at a tick under 6-6 and 310 pounds. His athleticism might force a move to defensive end.

Utah cornerback Keith McGill is big at 6-3, 213 pounds, and his long arms make him an ideal fit for press coverage. Still, he only had one interception in two seasons for the Utes.

Nebraska cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste is also big for the position at 6-3, 218 pounds and had seven interceptions in 19 starts for the Cornhuskers.

Jon Gruden: 'I want Manziel'

April, 30, 2014
4/30/14
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Johnny Manziel might be the most polarizing quarterback in next week’s NFL draft, but he has a fan in former Oakland Raiders coach-turned-ESPN "Monday Night Football" analyst Jon Gruden.

And if Gruden was still coaching an NFL team?

[+] EnlargeJohnny Manziel
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesJon Gruden on QB Johnny Manziel: "He will excel at whatever you ask him to do."
“I don’t have any concerns,” Gruden said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters. “I'm a Manziel -- I don’t know what the word I should use is -- advocate, proponent. I want Manziel. I realize he's under six feet tall. Maybe he can't see over the line. We blew that theory in the water last year with (Russell) Wilson and (Drew) Brees. I know he can learn. I spent two days with him, and I know he wants to learn. He had four different offensive coordinators at Texas A&M. He had two different head coaches. It didn't matter. He adapted and did extremely well.

“This is the first Heisman Trophy winner as a freshman. In two years at Texas A&M, he had the most productive back-to-back seasons in SEC history. I don't know what you want him to do. He threw for eight thousand, ran for two thousand, he has 93 touchdowns. All I know is I want Manziel.”

The Raiders hold the No. 5 overall pick, and though they did acquire Matt Schaub to be the starting quarterback for the next two years at least, their QB-of-the-future situation is murky at best.

Manziel has visited the Raiders' complex, as has Central Florida’s Blake Bortles and Pittsburgh’s Tom Savage. Oakland has also had reported meetings with Fresno State’s Derek Carr, San Jose State’s David Fales, LSU’s Zach Mettenberger, Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater and Clemson’s Tahj Boyd.

But taking Manziel and all that his celebrity entails would seemingly work against the Raiders’ mission after acquiring Schaub. Fans would want to see Manziel immediately, or as soon as Schaub, who needs to get his confidence back after a down year in Houston, throws his first interception.

None of that, though, matters much to Gruden, from afar. Even if Manziel is lacking in some areas.

“He has no experience coming out of the huddle really, handling the pass protections, doing some of the things that you've seen some of the conventional pro quarterbacks do,” he said of Manziel. “It's going to be a huge adjustment for him. It might not happen for him by opening day.

“But I'm convinced that he will learn it. He will excel at whatever you ask him to do. But, remember, he did redshirt at Texas A&M. Maybe he needs a redshirt year in pro football. I'm not going to say that's going to happen or that's a certainty. But it will be an adjustment for Manziel making the adjustment as a young player at this position at the next level. But I'm sure he can do it.”

Analyzing Kiper 3.0: Raiders

March, 13, 2014
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Apparently, the Rodger Saffold fiasco and the Oakland Raiders losing out on an offensive lineman had no bearing on Mel Kiper’s Mock Draft 3.0.

No, he did not stay with his pick for the Raiders at No. 5 overall -- he went with Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins both times before.

The way Kiper sees things shaking out , Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will fall to Oakland, and the Raiders will scoop him up. Makes sense in the way that Oakland needs a franchise quarterback and, as many observers note, Bridgewater is the closest thing to an NFL-ready QB in this draft.

But are the Raiders ready to hand over the keys to the franchise to a rookie? Depends upon what else they do in free agency.
The Oakland Raiders have needs all over the roster, and with the No. 5 overall pick in May’s NFL draft, it would seem likely they can address at least one of them with their first selection.

Of course, general manager Reggie McKenzie more than intimated he wants a playmaker. And more than a few prospects have already acquitted themselves quite well at the combine, thank you very much.

A brief look, then, at five who have impressed thus far in Indianapolis, but will they still be there at No. 5 come the draft?

WR Sammy Watkins (Clemson)

Sure, he seems to be Denarius Moore 2.0, but if he’s more consistent, that would be an upgrade, no? The 6-foot-1, 211-pound Watkins put on a show Sunday, running a 4.43-second 40-yard dash and showing body control and quick-twitch shiftiness in a 6.95-second three-cone drill and a 4.34-second 20-yard shuttle run. He also had a 34-inch vertical leap and a 126-inch broad jump. Perhaps more importantly, though, Watkins displayed his soft-yet-strong hands in catching passes.

QB Blake Bortles (Central Florida)

A seeming clone of Ben Roethlisberger, the statuesque Bortles (6-5, 232) surprised with athleticism. He ran a 4.93 40, while leaping 32.5 inches in the vertical jump and 115 inches in the broad jump, better than Teddy Bridgewater or Johnny Manziel, both of whom had 113-inch broad jumps. Where Bortles may have given himself an edge was in the fact that he actually threw to receivers, unlike Bridgewater and Manziel. Bortles showed an above-average arm as well as some touch on deep balls.

WR Mike Evans (Texas A&M)

Many are starting to wonder if the big (6-5, 231) pass-catcher is more what the Raiders need. He’s not a burner (4.53 40) but he had a 37-inch vertical leap and timed a 4.26-second 20-yard shuttle run, faster than Watkins. Not necessarily playmaker numbers, but he is a football player, as McKenzie is fond of saying, and many see Evans as having the skill set to become a No. 1 receiver, rather than just a possession receiver.

OT Greg Robinson (Auburn)

The Raiders will have an issue on the offensive line if they are unable to re-sign left tackle Jared Veldheer. Robinson could be an option in that scenario. He blew minds on Saturday. The 6-5, 332-pounder ran a 4.92-second 40-yard dash and he also had a 113-inch broad jump with 32 reps in the bench press. His showing in positional drills has many wondering if he could turn into the draft’s top overall prospect.

OT Jake Matthews (Texas A&M)

The 6-5, 308-pounder turned in the second-most impressive workout of an offensive tackle and, as noted earlier, if Veldheer is gone, the Raiders could do worse than to take a look at Matthews. He ran a 5.07-second 40 and added a 30.5-inch vertical leap and a 7.34-second three-cone drill. His blocking technique was considered flawless, which showcased his agility.

Keep an eye on: South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr work out on Monday.

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