Halfway through March, the Raider Nation is torn yet again. Some fans believe the Oakland Raiders should be spending a ton of money, and others believe that Reggie McKenzie‘s decision to stay away form big free agent acquisitions is a good one. Seeing as the Raiders have avoided spending money in order to retain at least two players from this draft, it seemed like a good time to revisit it.
Reviewing the Oakland Raiders 2014 Draft
Round One- Khalil Mack
What is there to say about Khalil Mack that hasn’t been said a million times? The reigning Defensive Player of the Year is averaging 10 sacks a season, and is only getting better. When you compare his career to the first overall pick from the same draft, Jadeveon Clowney, the results are laughable. It hasn’t been all Clowney’s fault, as he’s spent plenty of time off the field with injuries, but at the end of the day, Clowney only has 10.5 career sacks to his name, a total Mack has eclipsed in two of three seasons.
There isn’t a grade high enough for this pick. Some people had mocked Johnny Manziel to Oakland at this point, but McKenzie went with Mack instead, and he obviously made the right choice, especially when the second round rolled around.
Round Two- Derek Carr
Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, and Teddy Bridgewater were all drafted ahead of Derek Carr. How absolutely ridiculous is that? Furthermore, how ridiculous is it that Reggie McKenzie was able to find an elite pass rusher and a franchise quarterback in the same round? The first two picks of the Raiders 2014 draft elevated the team from doormat to contender in just three seasons.
Manziel is no longer in the league, and will likely struggle to get another chance, and a devastating injury has left Bridgewater’s future in doubt. Bortles has remained on the field, but when you compare his numbers to Carr’s, it’s not even competitive. So far in his career, Carr has thrown for 11,194 yards, 81 touchdowns and 31 interceptions. Over that same span, Bortles has thrown for 11,241 yards, 69 touchdowns, and 59 interceptions.
The Oakland Raiders found arguably the best quarterback in the history of their franchise in the second round. Think that earns Reggie McKenzie another A+? Because that’s what he’s getting.
Round Three- Gabe Jackson
While not as flashy as Carr or Mack, Gabe Jackson has been a force for the Oakland Raiders. Often overshadowed by Kelechi Osemele and Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson is a crucial part of Oakland’s offensive line. As a rookie, Jackson had his worst season, and even then, Pro Football Focus gave him a 77.9 grade. Since then, he’s been one of the better guards in football, and McKenzie just couldn’t seem to miss.
Round Four- Justin Ellis and Keith McGill
The Oakland Raiders had two picks in the fourth round of this draft, and with them, they selected Justin Ellis and Keith McGill. Ellis has been a solid rotational defensive lineman for the Raiders, but even he was not immune to the defensive struggles of 2016. Assuming the hiring of John Pagano brings some order to the defense, he’ll likely return to form in 2017.
As for McGill, he hasn’t panned out. He was forced to switch to safety, and he looked terribly out of place early in 2017. It’s not too late for him to get his career back on track, but it hasn’t gotten off to a great start.
Round Seven- T.J. Carrie, Shelby Harris, and Jonathan Dowling
Shelby Harris and Jonathan Dowling never really panned out, but they didn’t have to. They were seventh round picks, and while they were able to contribute as depth, they nevrer really stood out as stars.
T.J. Carrie however has been a good player for the Raiders. He’s not an elite corner by any means, but he’s stepped up and played when the likes of D.J. Hayden or Sean Smith were hurt, and he wasn’t terrible. He’s a perfectly decent corner, if not one that they can rely on as a starter.
Overall, the Oakland Raiders secured three starters with their first three picks. One is in the conversation for best defensive player in football, and another is the brightest young quarterback in the league. Jackson helps make up an offensive line that got an undrafted rookie over 500 rushing yards, and with the later picks, McKenzie found some solid role players.
Reggie McKenzie is doing everything he can to retain these three players, and if that means he doesn’t give guys like Calais Campbell $60 million dollars, it’s well worth it. Before anyone starts predicting the fall of the Raiders, remember who helped them rise in the first place. Trust Reggie McKenzie, after all, he is the reigning Executive of the Year.