Editor’s note: Insider Scott Bair will have draft content every day leading up to the NFL Draft (May 8-10), including position breakdowns, retrospectives, mock drafts and more; bookmark our Road to the NFL Draft
The NFL draft doesn’t run according to a script. It’s impossible to know who will be available at a given selection, so teams have to be ready to adjust on the fly. There will be disappointments along the way, with coveted players gone before the Raiders have a chance to select them.
Within the confines of this web space, we have no such restrictions. I’ve appointed myself Raiders GM for the day, and have constructed the Raiders “perfect draft” with ideal selections each time the Raiders go on the clock.
Let’s be clear: this utopia has its limitations.
Rule 1: Don’t swing wildly when it comes to round projections. What the experts say is what we’re going with. For example, there’s no chance Jadeveon Clowney will be available at No. 5, so he wasn’t a consideration in the first round.
Rule 2: No trades outside the first round. The Raiders are on the hunt for more picks, but we'll save that for draft day.
Rule 3: Think like Reggie. That means you’ll see football junkies and character guys aplenty on this list.
I’ve made each of the Raiders selections as currently outlined. I spent hours on this draft while the Raiders have spent months, but I think the Silver and Black came out of my draft just fine and dandy:
First round (No. 5 overall): OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo
While Mack could be gone by the fifth pick, this is an ideal situation for the Raiders. Without him, or maybe Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins, the Raiders would likely trade out of this pick. But Mack is there, and the Raiders are thrilled.
Mack is an NFL-ready, Von Miller-type player which great talent and work ethic. He will single-handedly elevate the Raiders pass rush and make those around him better and harder to double team.
Head coach Dennis Allen and coordinator Jason Tarver will find ways to give he and 2013 third-rounder Sio Moore opportunities to shine against the run and pass. This is a perfect addition for a defensive front with plenty of veteran talent.
Second round (No. 36 overall): WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
The Raiders get a receiver with No. 1 potential in the second round of a draft well stocked with pass-catching talent. Benjamin is 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, with an 83-inch wingspan. He has the physical tools to succeed at the NFL level, with a competitive drive that helps secure jump balls and receptions in traffic. He’s a mismatch on the outside who should be able to make an immediate impact and improve with time.
Third round (No. 67 overall): DE Kareem Martin, North Carolina
The Raiders have little depth at defensive end behind Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley. They draft some with Martin (6-6, 272), a bigger 4-3 end that the Raiders prefer to be part of a pass-rushing rotation. Experts say he has a high football IQ, is a technically sound tackler and has competitive drive. NFL Draft Scout compares Martin to Tuck, a creating an ideal mentor-protégé relationship with the veteran star. Martin has some technical work to do to excel consistently at the NFL level (especially versus the run) but the Raiders have a solid mix of energetic coaches and savvy veterans to elevate Martin’s game.
Fourth round (No. 107 overall): CB Rashaad Reynolds, Oregon State
The Raiders need a cornerback of the future and present depth behind D.J. Hayden, Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown. Reynolds is suited for both, with an ability to contribute on special teams right away while waiting for playing time on defense. Draft analysts say Reynolds (5-10, 189) has solid leaping ability and quickness. His game tape is solid, with six interceptions and 3.5 tackles for losses. He was a leader and team captain and the type of team-first player the Raiders prefer.
Seventh round (No. 219 overall): SS Tre Boston, North Carolina
The Raiders must use the first of three seventh-round picks on Boston, who might not make it to college free agency (or this pick for that matter). Boston has the athleticism, physicality and aggressiveness to grow into an NFL-caliber player. Analysts say he makes poor reads and can be hesitant, but that could be coached out of him in time. With Tyvon Branch, Charles Woodson and Usama Young ready at safety, Boston won’t be counted on early.
[BAIR - Raiders draft outlook: Safeties]
Seventh round (No. 235 overall): ILB Glenn Carson, Penn State
Carson is a strong tackler with limited range, but was a three-year starter and a team captain who likes to play the game. Catching a pattern here? Could be a special teams player, and the Raiders will keep their fingers crossed that he can develop into a solid backup middle linebacker in time.
Seventh round (No. 247 overall): CB Andre Hal, Vanderbilt
This pick is so far down that it’ll be used to secure someone you don’t want to compete for in college free agency. Hal is worth a pick because of his experience as a quality kickoff return man, something the Raiders have lacked in recent seasons. NFL Draft Scout says he’s competitive and has leadership skills (catching a pattern here?), and averaged 23.1 yards per kickoff return and one return for touchdown. He will compete for a job primarily on special teams.
[RELATED - Raiders draft outlook: Cornerbacks]
NOTE: You'll see I didn't select a quarterback of the future here. It was intentional. The rationale: The Raiders have too many other needs to use a pick on a quarterback who will essentially redshirt in 2014 and develop behind veteran Matt Schaub. Let's go all-in on the former Houston Texans quarterback and go for as many immediate-impact players as possible. That's not a prediction of what I think the Raiders will do. Just my opinion, nothing more.