Source: Oakland Raiders Pro via Facebook
As the offseason draws nearer, some teams have already started to switch their attention to the 2018 NFL draft. There’s always a chance to bring in some fresh stock, and a certain optimism for next season begins to surround the squads that didn’t fare so well in their prior campaign.
The Oakland Raiders currently sit outside the top 15 in the draft order and still have a shot at making the playoffs. If they happen to extend their winning record, they would probably drop their placement to somewhere in the 20s. According to the best bookmakers in football betting, they are currently +260 to secure themselves a playoffs slot, but will require a very strong finish to the season if they have any chance of getting there.
General Manager Reggie McKenzie has received criticism over his last three drafts after recruiting some high-potential players that are yet to see significant game time on the field. Hopefully, the Raiders can get on the money with this one and bring in some quality talent. Here are the three positions Oakland should be looking at when selecting their new prospects.
Sean Smith and David Amerson have had some struggles this season and bringing in some fresh blood would be a wise move for the squad. Gareon Conley got 92 snaps during his rookie year, but his mysterious shin injury may be a problem in the future if he doesn’t get back to full fitness quickly.
Source: Quenton Meeks via Facebook
Potential Draft Pick for CB
Stanford’s Quenton Meeks isn’t the kind of player that will blow you away with staggering statistics, but he does have quality coverage skills and is not easily pushed around. He’s logged seven interceptions as well as 16 pass breakups over the last three seasons. Unlike Smith and Amerson, who regularly fail to deal with speedy receivers, Meeks is fast enough to stay with quick pass-catchers on the outside.
Donald Penn will turn 35 in April and we may have already seen the best of the 11-year veteran. He will most likely line up for another term next year, but the Raiders would be wise to think about the future of the position. Oakland did sign Marshall Newhouse on a two-year deal worth $3.5 million, but it would be good to find a long-term solution to the problem rather than a Band-Aid fix.
Potential Draft Pick for OT
Jamarco Jones from Ohio State would be an extremely solid Day 2 pick. He may not be a guaranteed starting left but would definitely push Newhouse on the right side. Even if his development took a year behind Penn, at least there would be some competition for David Sharpe on the blind side.
If McKenzie’s past is anything to go by, he will probably stick with Marquel Lee and Nicholas Morrow, using a late-round pick to fill the position. Oakland may re-sign NaVorro Bowman to keep the starting spot, but a player that can defend consistently against the short passing attack would be a wise investment for the squad.
Potential Draft Pick for ILB
Vanderbilt’s Oren Burks played safety as a freshman and sophomore before making the change to the hybrid safety-inside linebacker position. He played all four of his collegiate years there before eventually making the full switch to a complete ICL. Burks is a much more athletic defender than the old-school bulky type of ICL and his extensive skill set as a defensive back would certainly help him in the NFL.
If the Raiders fail to make the playoffs this year, picking players for these key position would definitely be a great start for improving the squad. There’s a barrage of talent coming through in next year’s draft and if Oakland can lock in some youth with quality like these three, they’ll be in good hands for the future.