Raiders draft needs: Lacking game-changing receiver

Raiders draft needs: Lacking game-changing receiver
May 6, 2014, 10:45 am
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Clemson's Sammy Watkins is widely regarded as the top reveiver in this year's draft. (USATSI)

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

We've gone over the Raiders draft outlook for each position over the past two weeks. Now, with the draft a few days away, let's put it all together and figure what they need most. The best player available could tweak priorities -- outside linebackers are No. 6 on this list, and the Raiders could select OLB Khalil Mack at No. 5 overall -- but it gives an outline of what the Raiders need to succeed now and in the near future.

The list:

1. Wide receivers
-- The Raiders lack a true game-changing receiver to lead a solid corps. Snagging one would electrify the passing game and the fan base.

2. Defensive linemen
-- The Raiders added veteran talent, but don’t have the depth to form a pass-rushing rotation necessary to keep quality quarterbacks off balance. They could use multiple selections on this group, at end and tackle, in the earlier portions of the draft.

3. Cornerback
-- The Raiders need a No. 4 corner this season and starter of the future to play opposite 2013 first-rounder D.J. Hayden. An aggressive, physical corner would shore up an important position group in a pass-happy division. If this player can contribute right away as a return man, that would be a real bonus.

4. Quarterback
-- The Raiders have a quarterback of the present in Matt Schaub, but would like to start developing a passer for the future now, without the stress of having to start right away.

5. Offensive linemen
-- The Raiders beefed up along the line -- that includes veteran left tackle Donald Penn, who signed a two-year deal with all guaranteed money in 2014 -- but they could use a long-term solution protecting the blind side. They could go for a left tackle at No. 5 if Watkins and Mack are gone and trading back doesn’t work out.

6. Outside linebackers
-- Though strongside linebacker Sio Moore was the rookie of the year in 2013 and has a bright future ahead, the Raiders certainly wouldn’t pass on a game changer like Khalil Mack if he’s available at No. 5. Weakside linebacker Kevin Burnett is in a contract year and replacing him might be a priority.

7. Safeties
-- The Raiders could use a successor to free safety Charles Woodson and support for strong safety Tyvon Branch.

8. Middle linebackers
-- The Raiders are set with Nick Roach running the defense, but they could use a backup. And middle linebackers generally make for good special teams players. Helping that unit certainly wouldn’t hurt.

9. Running backs
-- The Raiders seem flush now, but might want to add a lower-round pick to develop in time. Not a high priority though.

10. Tight ends
-- The Raiders drafted two tight ends in last year’s draft. Given the rookie production of Mychal Rivera and the potential of Nick Kasa, hard to see them stocking up again.

11. Specialists
-- With so many needs, Raiders don’t need to burn a draft pick on a snapper, punter or kicker.

 

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