The Oakland Raiders have had an extremely busy off-season already, but head coach Jack Del Rio has already said it is just the beginning of the work that they have left to do. Part of what comes next for the Silver and Black is attempting to identify their targets in this year's draft.
Without a doubt, I have officially decided on who I would like to see the Raiders target in the 1st round; Michigan State Offensive Tackle Jack Conklin.
The offensive line isn't an immediate need for the Raiders, but Conklin is a long term starter that has true Left Tackle potential. Donald Penn can hold down the blind side for the present time, but Conklin can solidify the offensive line for many years to come.
Many people will argue that we have more important need positions right now over offensive line, especially considering the impressive offensive line that they already will be fielding this season. However, that disregards "Best player available" and it also is shortsighted for the overall future of the team.
Derek Carr needs to be protected for the next decade, and the Raiders are not set along the line for that many years into the future. They do have a need to find the LT of the Future to protect Carr and Conklin has that type of potential. The value that Conklin brings at 14th overall is just simply too good to pass up. He is the player that the Raiders should target above any other.
There is just one highlight video that you need to watch to see why I feel so strongly that Jack Conklin is the right pick for the Raiders. It is his performance against the Oregon Ducks and their star defensive end DeForest Buckner. Jack Conklin controls Buckner coming off the line in ways that few other college players were capable of and that performance solidifies him as the player that the Raiders should target in the first round.
Here is the video for you to see for yourselves:
The way that Conklin is able to overpower, out maneuver, and still reach secondary targets throughout that game is absolutely outstanding. He already uses his hands the way an NFL Tackle needs to, and he has quick enough feet to defend against the outside speed rushers as well. He is intelligent, powerful, and absolutely projects to be a left tackle capable player at the next level.
At 6'6 and 308 pounds Conklin has the size that Reggie McKenzie covets in his linemen, while still being light enough to be extremely quick on his feet. He fits a long term need for the Raiders, could end up being a day one starter on the right side if Menelik Watson and Austin Howard don't step up their games, and he would even still be arguably the best player available on the board at 14 when the Raiders pick.
There will be many differences of opinion along the way when it comes to the draft, but I truly believe that Jack Conklin is the player that the Oakland Raiders should target for their first round pick in the 2016 draft. Derek Carr is a franchise QB and he needs a young franchise LT to grow with, Jack Conklin looks to fit that bill very nicely.