2014 NFL Draft: How important is it for Raiders draft to have immediate impact?

Justin Sullivan

There are a great many draft analysts out there who are looking at the Raiders' current situation and saying they need to win now or Dennis Allen and Reggie McKenzie could get fired. While that may be true, how much affect it has on their draft decisions is another story entirely.

There is no doubt the Raiders need to win now. They have had two straight 4-win seasons and two drafts with little to show for it. How do they fix their issues? Well, they already have.

That some $55 million in cap money they have shelled out already was with the sole intention of putting a competitive team on the field next season. They have added a player at every need position and could actually field a far better squad than last season even without any draft picks.

In adding the players they did at the positions they did, the luxury they bought is two-fold. It protects them in case the player(s) they like is not there which would force them to reach at a position of need (see Tyler Wilson). It also allows them to draft players with high ceilings as opposed to those who they think are more likely to make an immediate impact.

When presented with this idea that the Raiders must draft to win now, the question I pose is "In place of whom?" That is more of a rhetorical question because there is no definitive answer. In other words, name me a player or position group on this team that isn't prepared to enter the season as is should they not be able to get a replacement in the draft. It seems everyone has a different answer to that question and that in itself gives you your answer.

The primary argument being made by those who like to say the Raiders will get an immediate impact player is against taking a quarterback early -- such as Johnny Manziel or Blake Bortles -- because he would likely sit behind Matt Schaub for a season. Nearly every other player on either side of the ball would be seen as someone who can make an immediate impact.

As the saying goes, ‘That dog don't hunt'.

That line of thinking uses the idea that the coach and GM may be on the hot seat to suggest the GM would go against his plan all along -- to think long term. It's one of the reasons all the recent free agent contracts are front loaded with almost no guaranteed money after this season. They are preparing for most of those free agent additions to start this season and hoping to have them replaced by a drafted player within the next couple years.

The free agent frenzy is how Reggie McKenzie is making a team that can win now. He is hoping they can get at least a couple players who will challenge for a starting job but no particular position jumps out as vastly more important than any other.

McKenzie sees the primary purpose of the draft to build the future - as it should be. If that means drafting a quarterback who may or may not start as a rookie, so be it. If McKenzie or his scouts like a quarterback and he is there at the five overall pick, they will pull the trigger. They won't pass on him out of fear of not getting an immediate impact player and hope their second or third choice is on the board later. And if there isn't a quarterback he likes when their pick comes up and they get an immediate impact player, that's good too.

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