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Mike Mayock took a quick look at the Raiders roster and saw just how many holes it currently has. The respected NFL Network analyst understands the Raiders have several needs at vital positions, which gives them a particular direction throughout this draft.
“I was sitting here the other day looking at the Raiders' roster,” Mayock said Tuesday during a marathon conference call with reporters, “and in big letters I wrote, ‘No. 5, quarterback,’ then ‘best player available.’”
Mayock’s recommendation comes with a caveat: “if there’s one that they believe in.”
In a perfect world, Mayock says, the Raiders take a quarterback early and the best player from then on. It’s hard to argue that sentiment, considering there are precious few spots where the roster couldn’t use an upgrade over players still under contract. Strong safety, the strongside and middle linebacker spots and the center position may be the only exceptions.
“They have got to get the quarterback if possible and they do have so many needs that I think they can't get all locked into, oh, ‘we have to get a wide out with the second round pick or we have to get an offensive lineman.’” Mayock said.
The draft guru and game analyst believes, like many others do, that this is a pivotal offseason for the Raiders and their development into a legitimate contender. But, with so many needs and so much money to spend, the personnel department must hit the mother lode when acquiring talent.
“I think this is the most critical year for the Raiders in my memory," Mayock said. “They have kind of been through purgatory and now they have got to get out of there and they have to make great decisions on; A, re signing their own players; B, on signing new free agents; and then C, they have to come out of this draft preferably with the quarterback that they can develop and base their entire football team around.”
Mayock also released positional rankings for each position. Here’s Mayock’s list of the top 5 quarterbacks:
1. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
2. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
3. Blake Bortles, Central Florida
4. Derek Carr, Fresno State
5. AJ McCarron, Alabama
My take on top QBs heading into the combine: Bridgewater is the best available option if he falls to them at No. 5. Manziel and Bortles could be top 10 picks. Carr could be a mid-first-round pick, but I believe McCarron could be a steal if he’s available at No. 36 overall.