Did the NFL Combine Change the Oakland Raiders’ Target at No. 4?

The Oakland Raiders have yet another important draft in 2015. General manager Reggie McKenzie and new head coach Jack Del Rio have the fourth overall selection, so they should be able to find another impact player like linebacker Khalil Mack from a year ago.

Did all the information they gleaned from the combine change their target?

Now that teams have just about all the data they could ask for on the top prospects thanks to the combine, the Raiders can go about settling on their top few targets. The Raiders can go in one of many directions, and if their 2013 draft is any indication, then it may even shock us.

The Raiders settled on cornerback D.J. Hayden in 2013 and were mere moments away from selecting him No. 3 overall until the Miami Dolphins dangled a second-round pick to move down to No. 12. The ordeal proved that McKenzie’s board might not look anything like what we are expecting.


Position Parsing

NFL teams can align their needs with the best player available drafting model for the first few rounds utilizing free agency. That’s why what NFL teams accomplish in free agency can drastically affect what we believe teams will do in the draft.

If a team needs and signs a No. 1 wide receiver, it’s probably safe to say they won’t be drafting one in the first couple of rounds. This is obviously a general rule, and there are always exceptions.

The Raiders need a playmaking wide receiver, an edge-rusher, an inside linebacker, a defensive tackle, a guard, a center and a running back. Ideally, the Raiders can address all of those needs in the draft and free agency.

In theory, the Raiders can address all of those needs in free agency. They have the salary cap space to sign one of the top players at each position if they choose to do so and can entice them to sign with a team still trying to rebuild.

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