Oakland Raiders Mock Draft: Instant Contributors Oakland Can Find in Every Round
Building on a strong showing in the free-agent market, Raiders general manager, Reggie McKenzie, will now take to the draft to help the Silver and Black find their way back to the top of the AFC West.
Unlike your classic seven-round mock draft, in this draft the picks are set up little bit differently.
The goal here is to find players who would be able to come in on Day 1 and instantly contribute in some fashion to this roster.
Finding quality players through vigorous film study, the guys who've made this list have all shown at times that they have the tools needed to be effective.
Using some of the Raiders biggest needs as a blueprint, this seven-round mock draft of instant contributors was crafted.
Round 1: OLB/DE Khalil Mack, Buffalo
When we take a look back at this year's draft in a few years, Buffalo's Khalil Mack could end up being considered the best player to come out of the 2014 class.
Not your run-of-the-mill 4-3 edge-rusher, Mack is one of the most versatile players you'll see on film.
His game just exudes confidence.
Whether he's obliterating quarterbacks or dropping into coverage and coming down with stunning interceptions, Mack is a complete football player.
McKenzie's foray into the free-agent market has already improved the team's outlook on defense. Veteran players like Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley, Antonio Smith and Tarell Brown all have enough talent to make a difference.
However, when you get the chance to draft a linchpin player who can alter a franchise, you can't let that opportunity slip through the cracks.
Leading up to the draft, Mack has received oodles of praise from scouts and media personalities alike.
Talking about the Buffalo Bull's skill set at the NFL annual meeting (h/t Scott Brown of ESPN.com), Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine said, "He’s a guy that the tape backs it up. He can play on the ball, he can play off the ball, he plays violently, and he’s played some of his better games against better competition."
Regardless if he's putting his hand in the dirt or standing up as a linebacker, the ridiculous versatility and sheer explosiveness this guy has makes him a textbook impact player.
Round 2: CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
One crucial area of need that still has to be addressed this offseason is immersing playmakers into the Raiders secondary.
When you look at collegiate prospects who could help out right away, Virginia Tech's Kyle Fuller comes to mind.
Fuller is a gifted athlete who has displayed a knack for finding the football on tape.
Conversing about his skill set, ESPN's Todd McShay (Insider subscription required) wrote:
The two big question marks on him had been speed and durability, but then he ran a 4.49 40 and, from what I heard, teams didn't come away with any concerns about his durability. He has good size (6-foot) and long arms and proved to be an explosive athlete based on his test results.
Fuller is the type of player who at times leans on his athleticism more than his technique. At the next level, that's going to be something he will need to work on.
Still, his keen awareness and ability to close on the football are two of the most impressive qualities to his game.
Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver could utilize Fuller working in the slot or lining up on the outside.
His considerable speed—Fuller ran a 4.49-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine—and sublime athletic ability makes him a prime candidate to improve this secondary from the jump.
Round 3: ILB Chris Borland, Wisconsin
Instincts are the name of the game when it comes to Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland.
He isn't a dominant athlete by any stretch of the imagination, but Borland more than makes up for it with his play on the field.
Talking about why he feels Borland is such a special talent, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. (Insider subscription required) said:
If you look at him purely from a physical and athletic standpoint, you wouldn't consider Borland a first-round pick, but the tape tells another story. Borland isn't just a clean-up tackler, he's an instinctive attacker of the backfield and a relentlessly instinctive player who can get on the field right away and make plays. I know there are teams that have a first-round grade on him.
Figuring out what round Borland will get selected in is a difficult undertaking.
Kiper's sentiment that team's have a placed a high-grade on him makes you believe he's a lock to go within the first two rounds.
But because of the outstanding depth in this year's class, NFLDraftScout.com (h/t CBSSports.com) has Borland projected to be taken between the second and third round.
If he falls into that range, McKenzie should sell the farm to obtain the services of the Wisconsin Badger.
His natural leadership and uncanny ability to find his way to the football makes him a plug-and-play starter who would instantly bolster the team's linebacking corps.
Not to mention, honing his strong leadership qualities under veteran guys like Tuck and Charles Woodson would allow him to take the reigns of this defense when those guys decide to call it a career.
Round 4: OL Cyril Richardson, Baylor
If the Raiders want to add more depth to their new-look offensive line, Baylor's Cyril Richardson is a "mid-round" pick who could turn out to be a difference-maker.
Going by NFLDraftScout.com (h/t CBSSports.com), Richardson is considered to be a third- or fourth-round selection at the moment.
At 6'5", 329 pounds, the Baylor Bear is a mammoth offensive lineman.
With his experience playing both tackle and guard, Richardson has the means to contribute right away while he develops and refines his skills.
In his pro comparison video, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller noted that Richardson is "the most powerful run-blocker in this year's draft class."
With the ability to control defenders at the line of scrimmage, you may be asking, why is he being projected to be a mid-round pick?
B/R's Alex Dunlap explained the situation during his extensive scouting report on the giant from Waco, Texas:
While he finished his senior campaign with numerous accolades, having put a ton of good work on tape, his disastrous Senior Bowl Week performance will stick in the mind of many informed evaluators.
He showed a huge liability within his game as it pertains to talented, NFL-ready, athletic interior defensive presences. He can get leg-locked, lost and beaten in this circumstance currently.
A rough Senior Bowl is of course disheartening, but the great work he displayed on tape makes him a player worth rolling the dice on.
Round 7: QB Tom Savage, Pittsburgh
According to David White of The Fresno Bee, the Raiders have expressed interest in Fresno State QB Derek Carr.
But based on Schaub's arrival, adding a QB during the latter stages of the draft could ultimately be the direction this program decides to goes in.
Finding a player in the seventh round who can contribute right away isn't an easy task—especially a quarterback.
Of all the "late-round" signal-callers, Pittsburgh's Tom Savage is a guy who has a ton of physical attributes that are appealing.
On film, he's showcased the ability to get the ball out quickly and efficiently. Equipped with outstanding arm strength, Savage can go out and make any throw he has to.
Like the bulk of the QB prospects who come out of the draft, Savage has areas of his game he needs to improve on.
One major concern that pops up on tape is the difficulties he has dealing with pressure.
If he can improve and learn the nuances of the position, Savage would be a great late-round pick who could turn into a heck of a field general.
Comparing him to Troy Aikman, NFL.com's Gil Brandt dubbed Savage as "The best QB prospect you've never heard of."
Savage won't start this season barring an unforeseen string of injuries. Even so, what he can do, is shore up the position from Day 1 and perhaps over time grow into a legitimate starter.
Round 7: TE Ted Bolser, Indiana
Indiana tight end Ted Bolser is your classic "under-the-radar" late-round prospect who could turn out to be a pleasant surprise for an NFL team.
At 6'6", Bolser is a big target who will be an effective option right away in the red zone.
Though he isn't the pass-catcher that current Raiders tight end Mychal Rivera is, Bolser is the type of guy who can get physical with defenders when he's asked to block.
Projected right now to be a seventh-round selection, this young man boasts enough positive qualities to become the team's No. 2 tight end.
His large frame and ability to create mismatches in the red zone gives him the chance to become another instant contributor for this team.