Five potential targets for Raiders with 24th overall pick in NFL Draft
What are you thinking, Reggie?
NFL general managers create draft clusters for each selection, a group of players they’d feel comfortable taking at a particular spot. Drafting 24th overall in this often wacky selection process, it’s hard to know if preferred players will be there when the Raiders are on the clock. Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie must be ready for anything. He also sits a selection above quarterback-starved Houston, and could use that leverage to fleece teams wanting to leapfrog the Texans. McKenzie remains intent on taking the best player available, but an ideal selection marries need and value...
LB Jarrad Davis, Florida
The inside linebacker is my projected Raiders draft pick, and a consensus selection among draft analysts. A Davis/Raiders pairing makes too much sense. He’s an athletic freak who can tackle and cover. He plays a position of dire need, one where he could start right away. And Davis has an excellent work ethic, football intelligence and high personal character -- traits the Raiders prefer in core players. Davis showed well during the pre-draft process and might be worthy of a higher draft selection. The Raiders certainly hope not.
CB Adoree’ Jackson, USC
The Raiders need a slot cornerback right away. Jackson can do that. He could play on the outside if needed and return if required. The former Trojan is a ballhawk. The Raiders love that. He’s a consistent tackler and plays aggressive breaking up passes. Raiders love that, too. He doesn’t have the team’s preferred size, but makes up for that in other areas. Can add something on special teams as well, where the team needs leaders.
CB Kevin King, Washington
The Oakland native has the size and speed the Raiders are looking for, and has experience playing the slot – he isn’t an ideal fit there -- and every other secondary spot. That means he would compete for a starting spot on the outside, or wait his turn behind David Amerson and Sean Smith. The Raiders met with him during the pre-draft process and came away impressed. If their linebackers are off the table, King might be a long-term solution at an important spot.
DT Malik McDowell, Michigan State
McDowell is a polarizing figure. He’s a massive individual with speed and agility, but was woefully inconsistent in college. Some scouts and analysts have called him lazy, and it’s possible he slips out of the first round. The Raiders like doing these reclamation projects sometimes, believing they can motivate guys like this. He could be awesome if he ever realizes potential. Will that be worth a gamble at No. 24?
LB Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt
Cunningham might be considered a reach at No. 24 overall, but it underscores the need to get an inside linebacker who could play right away. He’s a playmaker and an able tackler who is good in coverage, though McKenzie might hope to trade back and still get him. It’s unlikely Alabama’s Rueben Foster will be around long, even after some hiccups in the pre-draft process. Temple’s Haason Reddick is a hot name right now. Cunningham could fill an early void and develop into a better player in time.