It may be strange to say, but the Oakland Raiders could be a hot bet to make the playoffs next season for the first time since 2002. They have a handful of difference makers, including Khalil Mack and Sean Smith on defense and Derek Carr and Amari Cooper on offense. What players they add around them in this year's draft could increase their playoff odds.
Levi Damien of Silver and Black Pride is here to make the choice for the Raiders.
14. Raiders: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
Damien: This was one of the more difficult selections for me to make in recent memory. It is due to a combination of three things -- a lower draft pick than the Raiders have had in several years, having fewer major needs than in the past and their top need (safety) with no prospects worthy of a selection this high. That’s what we affectionately call "a good problem to have."
The Raiders offensive line has been celebrated this offseason by the likes of Pro Football Focus and some others, but the tackle positions could both prove to be an issue. Donald Penn at 32 years old was allowed to test the market and was ultimately re-signed to a friendly short-term deal to man the left tackle spot until the Raiders can bring in reinforcements. Both right tackles are coming off injury, including Menelik Watson who has several times been pegged as the starter, but who can’t stay healthy long enough to give the Raiders any idea if he can be the long-term solution at right tackle.
One could argue Conklin is the best player still on the board and he comes at a premium position. He could play either side this season as needed, with left tackle as his targeted eventual landing spot. While he offers plenty as a pass protector, he excels in run blocking, making him a lot like Kelechi Osemele, whom the team just paid big money to come play guard but who can play tackle as well, if needed. Conklin’s addition would give them a potential left tackle of the future with the same guard/tackle flexibility Osemele offers. That’s low risk, high reward.
Analysis: I'm not on board with Conklin being the best available player here, but that's just a personal preference. Conklin is a good system fit, and he could be the sure thing up front the Raiders need. My choice probably would have been Darron Lee, the linebacker from Ohio State. He would be an upgrade at weakside linebacker, and give the Raiders another athletic freak on defense.
Dan's Top 5 players remaining
- 11. Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
- 13. Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
- 14. Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
- 15. Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
- 16. Reggie Ragland, MLB, Alabama
- 1-14: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
- 2-44: (coming April 14)
Complete draft results:
1. Tennessee Titans - Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss (Link)
2. Cleveland Browns - Jared Goff, QB, Cal (Link)
3. San Diego Chargers - Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State (Link)
4. Dallas Cowboys - Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State (Link)
5. Jacksonville Jaguars - Myles Jack, LB, UCLA (Link)
6. Baltimore Ravens - Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State (Link)
7. San Francisco 49ers - DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon (Link)
8. Philadelphia Eagles - Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State (Link)
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky (Link)
10. New York Giants - Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame (Link)
11. Chicago Bears - Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida (Link)
12. New Orleans Saints - A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama (Link)
13. Miami Dolphins - Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State (Link)