It can be a fun exercise from time to time to look back at who the draft prognosticators had the Raiders selecting in the draft. Not as a way of pointing at them and laughing for how wrong they were – mock drafting is incredibly difficult to get exactly right – but just for posterity. Or maybe just for the hell of it.
For this, we will look at the two guys ESPN trots out this time each year to argue relentlessly about which players they think are better and which players will go to which teams. It gives us a look at what the Raiders team might look like had they just listened to these guys’ advice.
With Reggie McKenzie and company taking over in five years ago, and not having a first round pick (or second round pick) in 2012, we will begin with 2013.
3rd overall pick
Kiper – Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
McShay – Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Raiders – (Trade down to 12) DJ Hayden, CB, Houston
Analysis: Kiper was quite prophetic, actually. Saying “Fair warning at this slot -- the Raiders could certainly trade down. It makes a ton of sense if they do. They don't have a second-round pick.” The Raiders did just that, trading out with the Dolphins and picking up a high second round pick in the process. Both Kiper and McShay were correct in their analysis that the Raiders needed a defensive tackle. In their mock, the best defensive tackle who would have been on the board at 12 was Star Lotulelei. That is who I said they should take at the time, and that remains true today. Not a big surprise the team’s top need right now is defensive tackle and Hayden is headed for free agency. By the way, Kiper had Hayden going to the Giants at pick 19 and McShay had him to the Colts at pick 24.
5th overall pick
Kiper – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
McShay – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Raiders – Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo
Analysis – Now, before you go off with your “Glad the Raiders didn’t listen to those guys!”, you should probably actually switch that to the Jaguars. In both of their mock drafts, Mack was off the board, having gone to the Jags at third overall. But the Jaguars needed a QB so they took Blake Bortles. Everything else went the same in the top four, leaving Mack on the board as the no-brainer pick for the Raiders. Evans has been no slouch himself, so had things worked out as mocked, the Pro Bowl receiver would have been a nice addition to the Raiders. And had the Jaguars taken Mack instead of Bortles, I wouldn’t doubt it if they tried to trade back into the bottom of the first round to get a QB. Perhaps even Derek Carr. So, maybe shake the hand of a Jaguars fan next time you see them.
4th overall pick
Kiper – Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
McShay – Leonard Williams, DE, USC
Raiders – Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Analysis – Kiper and McShay debated the same thing most Raiders analysts debated. It was a tough call between Cooper and Williams. Either pick would have been a good one. The thing is, in McShay’s mock, Cooper was already gone. He went with the previous pick to the Jags who apparently, in Kiper and McShay’s eyes, make sensible picks. With Cooper off the board, McShay didn’t need to waffle over which guy the Raiders should take. To his credit, he said If both Williams and Amari Cooper are on the board, the Raiders select Cooper.” Had the Raiders gone with Williams at that pick, they would not have selected Mario Edwards Jr in the second round. As fate would have it, Williams was the guy who replaced Khalil Mack in the Pro Bowl this year with Mack opting out due to injury.
14th overall pick
Kiper – Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
McShay – Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia
Raiders – Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia
Analysis – I gotta admit, when I went to put this together, I did not think I’d be praising Kiper and McShay on their work as much as I have. For such an inexact science, they’ve done quite well. Kiper did kinda whiff on this pick with Ragland. He had Myles Jack as his other possibility (a pick I liked quite a bit as well) and Joseph coming off the board at 22 to the Texans. McShay nails it though, rightfully picking the Raiders to go with the best player at their most glaring need position.
In the end, the biggest difference in what the Raiders look like was dependent upon the Jaguars listening to Kiper and McShay’s advice and taking away the Raiders eventual picks ahead of them. The only pick you can say the Raiders were not on the same page as K&M was 2013 and had it gone that way, it would have meant the Raiders have a starting DT right now.