For most experts, the assumption was always that Oakland would target defense heavily this off-season — both in free agency and in the draft. So now, with three new defensive linemen, a corner, a re-signed safety, a re-signed running back and a new offensive lineman, does the draft day strategy remain the same?
For me, the answer is yes and no.
On one hand, it's no coincidence that McKenzie has handed out short-term deals on defense because his goal is obviously to build around younger players who will (hopefully) make it past their rookie contracts in Oakland. While Justin Tuck and Lamarr Woodley are solid players, they won't be starters two years from now in Oakland and so that has to be taken into account.
On the flip side, Oakland has a lot of holes it needs to fill now — especially since McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen both now their jobs are on the line this season. Why sign two pass rushers if you're planning on spending your first pick on a guy who won't be on the field every down?
On offense, Oakland has been quieter. They've dealt with a number of interesting scenarios along the offensive line in the past week, but there hasn't been any offensive movement outside of that in free agency. Sure, there are rumors that Oakland is targeting quarterbacks like Matt Schaub, but there haven't been any wide receivers or quarterbacks to actually come to Oakland for a visit.
Could that mean that guys like Teddy Bridgewater (who is in Oakland for an interview today) or Sammy Watkins are becoming top priorities for Oakland? Would McKenzie still consider taking a starting left tackle at the No. 5 spot?
Obviously this is all guess-work because none of us know what's going on inside of McKenzie's head, but if I had to guess, I'd say there's a much higher chance Oakland looks for a guy on offense in the first round. McKenzie has made it clear that the offensive line is a priority, and if the Raiders fail to sign a starting left tackle before the draft, I'd say there's a good bet Oakland goes that route.
Likewise, if Oakland still is without a new quarterback come draft day, I think a guy like Teddy Bridgewater (if he's still available) becomes more and more likely. If both those spots are filled? I've always liked the idea of drafting Watkins as a dynamic playmaker to take the pressure off of Darren McFadden, Denarius Moore, Rod Streater and whoever lines up at quarterback this season.
What do you think? Would you rather see Clowney or Mack come to Oakland to learn from Tuck and Woodley while seeing limited reps defensively? Or would you take a guy like Matthews, Watkins, Bridgewater or Robinson to make an immediate impact?