So I keep reading all these posts and mock drafts with fans wanting the Raiders to pick A) Khalil Mack with our #5 selection and B) a running back somewhere later in the draft (I have literally seen this one as high as 2nd round!). You all are so very wrong about these type of selections and I will tell you why.
For starters, let's focus on the rules of the NFL as they exist today and how they are trending to look in the future. Passing, passing, and more passing is what the NFL wants and that is what they are getting. You can no longer touch a reciever without getting a helmet to helmet or defenseless flag thrown on you. Additionally, the QBs might as well not even wear pads and a helmet as you can't touch them ever now and even looking at them can get you a penalty these days (seems that way anyway).
The NFL is hell bent on passing (see all the passing records being broken by multiple QBs yearly) as passing is flashy, helps teams score more points, and thus gets the casual fan to watch more games helping the NFL teams command more ad dollars due to higher viewership. And like it or not, it is no longer about a kids game being played by men. It is all about the money$$$ (cue Cuba Gooding Jr. from Jerry MacGuire).
Now, to get to the point of all this. Let me start with the running back. For the reasons above and many more related to the rules of the NFL around passing, the running back is not a feature in today's nor the future's NFL. No more Eric Dickerson. No more Walter Payton. No more Marcus Allen. No more Bo Jackson (I shed a tear on this one). Those days are gone, gone, gone. Running backs can be found later in the draft or as undrafted rookies as they are not expected, in the pass happy league of the NFL, to carry the football 25, 30, 40 times a game like they used to and with the many running backs we have on the team right now (MJD, DMC, Latavius Murray, Korey Sheets, Jeremy Stewert, even TJ if we need him, Marcel Reece, Olawale - I think he is still under contract, and Deonte Williams froom Cal Poly on the practice squad) why would we want to waste a draft pick on a position that is in very low need at this point in our build and will not be a feature to wins now and in the future (key words "be a feature")?
Now I do believe that having good running backs is key for any team to move the chains and give defenses something else to account for, but based on the rules it is entirely unnecessary to try and find the next Adrian Peterson or in these mocks I have been seeing even lesser of players at the RB position. Remember in 2012 when AP was going for the single season rushing record with the Vikings and he almost got it? He was by far the MVP as he was doing it with the rules geared toward passing the ball and what happened to the Vikings....no playoff wins, no superbowl, loss of most explosive weapon in Harvin who just got a ring, head coach now fired, and still looking for that franchise QB to what...that's right, PASS the ball!
On to the LB that many are head over heels for - Khalil Mack. I agree, he is an explosive player and I would love to have in in our LB core, but.....again, for the reasons above and many more related to the rules of the NFL around passing he plays a position that is too far away from the QB. When the elite QBs in the league (I live in Denver so I constantly am barraged with Peyton Manning press conferences, interviews, and quotes...gag!) like Manning are asked about what bothers them the most from defenses it is a unanimous pressure up the MIDDLE. See, when QBs are throwing the ball more frequently in our pass happy NFL there are more opportunities to rush the QB and the most glaring hit point is up the middle. Why you ask? Simple. QBs get rid of the ball in 3 seconds or less and in Manning's case it is about 2 seconds give or take a few tenths of a second and when pressure comes off the edge such as with a DE or an outside linebacker it takes too long to get to the QB and he can simply move up in the pocket or slide around and make his throw with out hinderance.
Now, as Manning has said, when pressure comes up the middle the DT is right in the QBs face after the ball is snapped and he can't move up in the pocket and he has hardly anytime to go through his progressions as he is now on the run trying not to get sacked! Hence why Khalil Mack being an outside linebacker makes no sense for us at this juncture when we are devoid of DTs who can get serious pressure up the middle. He plays to far off the line of scrimmage. Now some will say, "but you can put him on the line in known passing situations." And to that I say get the freak outta here with that BS!! If you do that, now you take some one out of the second level be that LB, safety, or CB and lose any advantage you might have had from a numbers stand point and as an LB he is not going to be beasting NFL offensive linemen to get to the QB up the middle. Sorry. Not. Gonna. Happen.
So to wrap this all up, no to Khalil Mack and no to any running back as a draft pick. I would think we are actually set up perfectly to trade back and get a monster of a pass rushing DT in Aaron Donald which will idealy help our defense out more than a Khalil Mack or even a Clowney as he will come right up the gut and blast Manning and any other QB we face for years to come. Don't believe me, watch his tape and ask Cyril Richardson what he thinks after getting beasted by Donald at the senior bowl! Though I would LOVE to get Clowney you have the same problem that you do with Mack - he comes from the outside and the QB can easily move away from him. IF we already had a monster pass rushing DT I would say grab Clowney and/or Mack, but we don't.
So trade back, get another pick (or 2, or 3, or hell even 4), get Donald and shoot for the best pass rushing DE or LB in next years draft while forgetting all about Mack and any RB that could have or might have been...just stop people. Sorry to be so long but this has been bugging me for quite some time and needed to be said.