While 2014 is supposed to be the season that the Raiders see some progress, their first game against the Jets would suggest otherwise. The quickest way to improve a team is through the draft. So what offensive positions do the Raiders need to fill and who can plug the holes next May?
This is the Raiders biggest position of need as Donald Penn was only signed to a one-year contract. While Menelik Watson could technically play the position, he is much more comfortable at right tackle. Left tackles are extremely expensive in free agency so drafting a high quality player is a more cost friendly option.
Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M
Before the season began, Ogbuehi was touted as a better left tackle than former top six picks Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews. After watching his first two games of 2014, I believe that statement is true. The Texas A&M star is a top-five talent and will only be available if the Raiders draft early. Based off a combination of need, position value and talent, Ogbuehi is the man the Raiders should draft come May if he is still available.
Brandon Scherff, Iowa
If Ogbuehi is gone, then Brandon Scherff should move to the top of the Raiders big board. He is a four-year starter for the Hawkeyes whose blend of athleticism and experience make him a top prospect. While he just underwent surgery on his meniscus, Scherff is expected to start this week against Iowa State.
Last game against the Jets showed why the Raiders need a runningback that can pick up more than 1.2 yards per carry. Now granted the Jets have one of the best defensive lines in football, there is no excuse for 25 rushing yards on 15 carries. Not having a rushing attack puts an enormous amount of pressure on rookie quarterback Derek Carr and it allows the defense to drop extra men into coverage.
What makes the Seattle Seahawks offense so potent is they can beat you through the air and the ground. Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson complement each other as they keep the defense honest opening up opportunities for one another.
While the Raiders need a left tackle, I want them to trade back in the first round and pick up my favorite college runningback since fellow bulldog Knowshon Moreno. Gurley is Marshawn Lynch 2.0 as he can run a sub 4.5 40-yard dash but has a powerful frame at 6-1, 232 pounds. But what makes him special is his ability to simply run defenders over like a bulldozer. It is rare when the first defender brings Gurley down.
"I don't know if I've faced a back of Gurley's capability and is big, strong, fast, can run around you, can run over you, breaks a lot of tackles, has great hands out of the backfield," South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said of Gurley. "I can't say that I've faced a complete back like Gurley."
Gurley entered the 2014 season with 2,374 career rushing yards on 387 carries and 27 touchdowns. If you add his 2014 week one numbers, he has only 50 negative yards on 402 carries. Remember, he is putting up these numbers against the highly talented SEC.
The only concern with all of these carries is injury risk. That being said, his muscular frame should help keep him healthy in the NFL.
Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
Gurley and Gordon have opposite styles of running. While Gurley will run defenders over, Gordon simply runs around them. His acceleration is ridiculous and reminds me of Chiefs runningback Jamaal Charles. Gordon has great vision coming out of the backfield allowing him to make cuts and reach open field.
The biggest criticism of Gordon is that he is not a great pass catcher as he had only one reception for ten yards in 2013. But after watching his game against Western Illinois in which he had four receptions for 22 yards, I would argue Wisconsin just does not use him in the passing game. In the game, he displayed soft hands and looked the ball into the catch. While Gurley is the better prospect, Gordon is not far behind and should be drafted in the first round.
While Rod Streater is a solid number two option at wide receiver, the Raiders do not have a top talent in their receiving corps. They have not had a go to guy since Randy Moss in 2006. Adding a playmaker at receiver would benefit not just rookie Quarterback Derek Carr, but the entire offense.
Amari Cooper, Alabama
Cooper is hands down the best wide receiver eligible for the 2015 NFL Draft. His speed and quickness make him a threat to score on every play. Last year, his weakness was catching the ball. But through two games, the Alabama receiver has looked much better and already has 25 receptions for 319 yards and a touchdown.
Cooper's big play ability and his frame reminds me of Julio Jones. While Jones was better coming out of college, Cooper has the potential to become the star caliber player that the Falcons receiver is. The Raiders would be wise to trade back if they were interested in Cooper.
Devin Funchess, Michigan
Coaches can't teach size. Listed at 6'5" and 230 pounds, Devin Funchess is a monster. The converted tight end has proved he deserves the coveted number one jersey after starting off the year with 16 receptions for 202 yards and three touchdowns. Notre Dame has a strong defense, but they had no answer for the Michigan receiver. Not only is Funchess way taller than most cornerbacks, he is also excellent at highpointing the ball. His style of play and size are almost identical to Panthers 2014 first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin.