Oakland Raiders draft strategy: Quarterback

Ronald Martinez

With a full slate of draft picks for the first time since 2010 (and just the second time since 2004), the Oakland Raiders need to make a splash in the upcoming NFL Draft. The question remains, however, about which position has the greatest need.

With the fifth-pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, everyone has their ideas about what position the Raiders should target. Some say quarterback, some say receiver and some say defensive lineman. With so many holes, it's hard to say any of these would be the wrong pick.

Reggie McKenzie laid out the three biggest needs for the Raiders in his media session Thursday as well.

So with this in mind, we're starting a three-part series to break down each of the position groups to see which is worth spending a top-five draft pick on. Of course, the possibility of trading down is always out there, but we'll operate under the assumption that Oakland keeps their pick.

First up is the quarterback position — the most important in the game.

With four teams remaining in the playoffs, it's no surprise that the four quarterbacks left are among the best in the league. Sure, Colin Kaepernick probably isn't at the top of the list, but to advance in the playoffs, a certain threshold of ability needs to be met.

Safe to say the Raiders quarterback situation has been well below that threshold for quite a long period of time. Does that mean that quarterback is the right position to target in this year's draft, though? For me, the answer is "no", and I'll explain why.

For starters, while the quarterback class is deep, it definitely isn't top-heavy. On Mel Kiper's latest "Big Board", there isn't a quarterback among the best eight players in the draft.

Now, if you've seen his mock draft, you know that he has plenty of quarterbacks going in the top eight — three, in fact. What does that mean? It means you've got to reach to get a quarterback this year.

Johnny Manziel isn't the best player in the draft (Kiper has him 11th), but he's being projected by some people as the top pick in the draft. If a team is on the verge of being great — which a team like Houston might be considering their sudden fall in the standings this season — then maybe reaching for the one position you badly need is the right decision. But if a team has plenty of holes — like Oakland — then why not take the best player available (especially when he plays a position you desperately need)?

Yes, in Oakland, the quarterback position is a desperate need — this team isn't winning any playoff games with Matt McGloin or Terrelle Pryor — but adding a rookie quarterback won't fix everything. One could even argue that the Raiders would be better adding a couple free agents — even guys like Josh Freeman or Chad Henne — and then taking a chance on another quarterback next year. At that point, Oakland would have a better base of players to surround the new quarterback, putting him in a much better position to succeed.

Now, if Oakland did want to draft a quarterback this year, picking a position player at No. 5 and then grabbing a guy like Derek Carr or Zach Mettenberger in the second round could make a lot of sense.

So which position player do think Oakland should grab? Be on the lookout for the next two installments of the "Oakland Draft Strategy" to find out.

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