So far we've covered two quarterbacks, a wide receiver and a defensive end, but today our staff shifts their attention to offensive lineman Jake Matthews.
We've talked at length about the vast number of needs Oakland has, and so with Matthews the question becomes: is offensive tackle really the position Oakland should address in the first round? For the first time all series, our panel is split right down the middle.
Jeff Spiegel (@JeffSpiegel) — Don't draft
Nothing against Matthews here, I just think tackle is the last position Oakland should think about drafting in the first round. My reasoning is simple: Oakland should begin 2014 with two tackles they feel comfortable with. On one side is Jared Veldheer, a man Oakland must focus on re-signing, and on the other is last season's second round pick Menelik Watson.
With no change in the front office and no change in the coaching staff, I have to hope that Watson hasn't already been given up on. While some might say Watson was a disappointment in 2013, a team like Oakland can't afford to give up on second round picks within 12 months of drafting them — especially when Watson was known to be "raw" to begin with.
Essentially it comes down to the fact that Oakland has countless needs and I just don't see offensive tackle even cracking the top five of that list. I'm sure Matthews will be a good football player, he just isn't the guy Oakland can afford to target at No. 5.
RDreamer (@RaiderDamus) — Draft him
Here's a guy who might actually be available when the Raiders pick. That is a good thing because the Raiders need to get better in the trenches, and what better way than by taking the best offensive line prospect in the draft?
Jake Matthews has an impeccable pedigree as the son of NFL Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews, and the cousin of NFL players Clay Matthews and Casey Matthews. Last season, former teammate Luke Joeckel was selected second overall and there was a great deal of debate during their time at Texas A&M as to which of Matthews and Joeckel was the better player. While Joeckel is an excellent player, I contend that Matthews is better.
Matthews played both left tackle and right tackle at A&M and helped Johnny Manziel win the Heisman Trophy. Playing with Manziel meant that Matthews had to keep contain for a very long time, as he never knew where the pocket was going to be or whether Manziel would take off and run at any given moment. The fact that Manziel was so successful despite every team knowing exactly what he liked to do is a testament to how effective Matthews was.
Matthews played LT and RT at an equally high level, meaning sheer dominance. He could even conceivably play center at the next level, as he is only 6'5" and isn't exceptionally tall for a tackle — although his fluid hips and knees and outstanding balance make up for that. Matthews has no injury history and never missed a game due to being hurt. He finishes blocks with aplomb and plays hard to the whistle every time. His only drawback is that his arm length is somewhat shorter than ideal but his perfect technique makes up for any blemishes in that area. If the Raiders want to protect whomever they stick behind center, they are going to have to do so from both sides. Menelik Watson, while promising, can't seem to stay healthy and the Khalif Barnes Holding Extravaganza has to end sometime.
Levi Damien (@LeviDamien) — Don't Draft
Matthews is considered the best offensive tackle in this draft and will certainly go in the top ten, but the thing is, the Raiders don't really need him. The Raiders need to re-sign Jared Veldheer and I think they will. He is one of the better left tackles in the NFL and should hold down that job for the Raiders for years to come.
On top of that, teams don't usually draft right tackles in the top five. Sure, the Chiefs drafted Eric Fisher No. 1 overall and planted him at right tackle, but that's just until Branden Albert moved on, which will be this off-season when Fisher will be headed to left tackle. So, regardless of Matthews abilities, the Raiders simply have too many other needs. Left tackle is actually one of the few positions they can afford not to focus on this off-season.
Marcus Allen Krause — Draft him
Jake Matthews is the top player on my wish list, and I know many will think that is crazy. My thought is that you just don't get a chance for a player with his size, athleticism, and pedigree very often. Jadeveon Clowney is the only real competition to him in my mind for who I would most prefer the Raiders to choose.
Had Jake Matthews come out last year, he would have surely gone first overall to the Chiefs ahead of Eric Fisher. Instead he stayed back another year to protect Johnny Manziel's blindside for one last season. To have a chance at a player that should have gone first overall the year before with the 5th pick in the draft would be quite a lucky drop.
At 6'5, 305 lbs Jake has the size to dominate and his football acumen from being the son of Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews is off the charts. Drafting him would solidify the right side of the line and also add negotiating insurance if the Raiders have to franchise tag LT Jared Veldheer. It also would possibly help the interior if last year's 2nd rounder Manelik Watson was able to move to guard from tackle.