Jadaveon Clowney is the best player in the 2014 NFL Draft. Many scouts argue he is the best defensive prospect in the last five years. If Clowney is available, the Raiders must draft him:
But if Clowney is off the board, then Reggie McKenzie would be wise to draft a Quarterback in the first round.
The NFL is designed to be a pass-friendly league. All of the teams that made the playoffs last year had either a great quarterback or at very least a reliable one. Quarterbacks in the NFL make the most money because they are the most important position. 99% of the time, a good Quarterback is necessary to win a Super Bowl.
It is no coincidence that the Raiders won all three of their Super Bowls under their greatest quarterbacks in franchise history (Ken Stabler and Jim Plunkett). If the Raider's goal is to eventually win another Super Bowl, they will need a quarterback capable of leading them. If Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles or Johnny Manziel are available in the 1st round, the Raiders must gamble and pick them.
While Khalil Mack, Sammy Watkins and Jake Matthews are all elite prospects, they are not Quarterbacks. Many fans will mention the last time the Raiders gambled early on a Quarterback, they picked JaMarcus Russell. Instead, the Raiders could have selected Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, Patrick Willis or Darrelle Revis. But, of those four future Hall of Famers, only one has played on a consistently winning team (Patrick Willis).
Quarterbacks taken in the 1st round are often hit or miss players. When you miss, it hurts the franchise for years. Names such as David Carr, Joey Harrington and Byron Leftwich are unknown in the NFL. Yet, they have all been top 5 draft picks in the last 14 years.
But when you gamble and strike, your franchise is virtually a playoff contender for the next 10 years. Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Michael Vick, Eli Manning, Matt Ryan and Andrew Luck are names that have recently turned their franchises fortunes around.
If the Raiders strike at Quarterback, there will be a new era in Oakland. If they whiff, they can't get much worse than they have been the last 12 seasons. While taking a Quarterback early is a definite risk, it could greatly pay off for the Oakland Raiders.