My rundown through the entire first round of the NFL draft continues as I examine the Oakland Raiders who hold the #5 pick in the first round.
The Pick: Blake Bortles – QB – UCF
Team owner Mark Davis said quite frankly that the team still lack an identity. Indeed neither of their quarterbacks are particularly memorable largely because they have no consistency in terms of leading the team to success. Drafting Blake Bortles would change that overnight.
Why: He is the most talented quarterback in the 2014 class
At least one starting quarterback in the league sounded off on the 2014 quarterback class, saying frankly that if a team wanting to win in this league they take Bortles. Why? From a sheer physical standpoint it’s obvious. The UCF standout has a big 6’5″ frame that can stand up to the caliber of hits he’ll be taking. He’s more mobile than people realize with a good arm, accuracy and above all a cool head on his shoulders. He looks like a starting quarterback and in 2013 he played like one leading the Knights to a Fiesta Bowl victory.
Argument: Sammy Watkins and Jake Matthews offer better value
Several fans have said the quarterback issue can wait until later. The Raiders should be about improving the overall roster. Based on the big board they would likely pounce on Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins. He is easily the most dynamic and polished option in the NFL draft with the explosiveness to go deep but the toughness to become that go-to guy over the middle as well. Then there is Texas A&M tackle Jake Matthews. A second-generation star, he is a proven pass blocker with loads of experience and physical skill. Putting him across from Jared Veldheer is a hard thing to overlook.
Counter-argument: Free agency should solve receiver and blocking issues
To those who will champion such a strategy I would have one simple answer for them: $63 million. That is how much salary cap space the Oakland Raiders could be taking into the 2014 free agency period. It not only will allow them to retain their own players but should give the front office ample opportunity to land some quality outside options with wide receiver and offensive line being among them. Both problems could be solved by that point, opening the door for them to bring it all together by putting a new face under center. That in turn would then allow the use of the remaining draft picks to bolster the defense.
That is why I would take Blake Bortles if I were in charge. What are your thoughts?