Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh was once asked to pick the five most important positions on a team. His first choice was a quarterback as "You need a person who can engineer and who can manage the team," stated Walsh. "Sometimes his athletic ability isn't as important in the early stages of developing a team. It is to manage it well, with the least amount of error and allowing the team to perform smoothly."
The quarterback position is so important to a team's success, that the St. Louis Rams just traded away the 15th overall pick, two second round picks (43 and 45), their 3rd round pick (76), and 2017 first and third round picks in a blockbuster trade to acquire the number one overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Two years' worth of first, second, and third round selections in hopes of finding a franchise quarterback.
The second position on Walsh's list is a pass rusher because, "With the 49ers we had pass rushers who were crucial to our success. We want somebody who can cover ground, has the explosion and quickness to beat an offensive tackle ... who has the upper body strength to beat that offensive lineman when he gets off-balance."
This brings us to the Raiders and how the football gods smiled down upon the city of Oakland during the 2014 NFL Draft.
When the Raiders selected with the fifth pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Mike Mayock's number one overall prospect still remained on the board. Somehow four teams had passed on Buffalo outside linebacker Khalil Mack and the Raiders took advantage of their mistake drafting the talented pass rusher. Mack has gone on to become one of the most feared defenders in the NFL and was the first player ever to be named All-Pro at two positions.
Pass rusher: Check.
As the first round progressed, three quarterbacks came off the board as teams selected Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, and Teddy Bridgewater. The only top quarterback still available as day two of the draft began was Fresno State's Derek Carr who was Mayock's 20th overall player.
With a huge hole at the quarterback position, some thought the Houston Texans could draft Carr with the 33rd overall pick; they didn't. The Texans passed on David Carr's younger brother opting instead for UCLA offensive guard Xavier Su'a-Filo, leaving Derek Carr to fall to the Raiders at 36 overall.
Since that fateful day, Carr's 53 touchdown passes with the Raiders are second to only Dan Marino for the most touchdowns thrown all-time through two seasons. Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson rank right behind Carr with 52 touchdown passes thrown in their first two seasons.
But the Raiders weren't finished yet, they grabbed three more starters in that draft in Gabe Jackson (third round), Justin Ellis (fourth round), and T.J. Carrie (seventh round).
This past December, NFL Network's Lance Zierlein wrote a 2014 NFL Draft do-over. Carr and Mack were the number one and two overall picks while Gabe Jackson was the 15th overall selection. Not only did the Raiders end up with three top-15 talents and five total starters from the 2014 NFL Draft, they acquired their franchise quarterback in the second round while holding on to all of their picks.
So as the Rams trade away six picks in the first three rounds in hopes of finding a franchise quarterback, let us appreciate how the Raiders found theirs in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft while also coming away with an All-Pro linebacker in Khalil Mack, a starting guard in Gabe Jackson, and two other starters in the same draft.