The third and final divisional opponent of the Chiefs had the highest and most draft picks of the AFC West, due to their second straight 4-12 season in 2013. Let’s take a look at who Raiders selected and how their picks might impact the Chiefs in 2014:
The Raiders needed help pretty much everywhere on their roster, and they definitely got one of the draft’s best players in Khalil Mack, a linebacker from Buffalo. Mack was the MAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, recording 3 interceptions (2 returned for touchdowns), 10 sacks, and 5 forced fumbles. He was an absolute beast, but his obvious knock is that he played at Buffalo in the MAC where the competition is pretty weak. Buffalo did play at Ohio State and Baylor to begin the season but lost both games although Mack did have a good game against the Buckeyes (2.5 sacks, 1 INT for TD). He will challenge for a starting role immediately, and the Chiefs of course will need to keep an eye on him. I am not too worried about Mack as Alex Smith does a great job of protecting the football and minimizing mistakes, but he has shown a propensity for forcing fumbles so the Chiefs need to be extra careful when Mack is on the field.
In the second round, the Raiders selected QB Derek Carr, the younger brother of David Carr, who was a colossal bust as the Houston Texans first ever draft pick in 2002. Carr, who played at Fresno State, will battle Matt Schaub and Matt McGloin for the starting quarterback duties. I think this will be one of the most intriguing battles in the NFL this summer and will be interesting to see who wins, although I personally do not think any of those quarterbacks will threaten the Chiefs. The Raiders are high on Carr, saying he is one of the smartest quarterbacks they have looked at, and if he cracks the starting lineup, that probably says more about Schaub than anyone else. I predicted the Chiefs would sweep Oakland in 2014, and no matter who is behind center for the Raiders, I am confident that the Chiefs defense will expose their weaknesses.
In the third round, the Raiders traded back 14 spots and received an additional fourth round pick. With their third round selection, they grabbed guard Gabe Jackson from Mississippi State. Jackson is huge (6’3” and 336 lbs.) and was a 4-year starter in the SEC, earning all-conference honors each year. Oakland lost a lot of experience on its offensive line this offseason, and needed some depth behind the veterans they signed. Jackson will likely spend a few seasons developing and learning from the veterans before seeing the field. Not a concern for the Chiefs.
With their first pick in the fourth round, the Raiders selected Justin Ellis, a defensive tackle from Louisiana Tech. Ellis is another big body (6’2” and 337 lbs.) and provides some depth on their defensive line. He has apparently had issues managing his weight in the past, but can remain steady on the line, holding up blockers for his linebackers to get through to the QB. The Raiders have 3 other DT’s on their roster, but none of them have me worried, especially because Eric Fisher and Donald Stephenson now have a year under their belt of learning Andy Reid’s offense.
The Raiders second pick of the fourth round went to Keith McGill, a corner from Utah. McGill is 6’3” and 211 lbs., the kind of corner that Bob Sutton prefers in his defensive schemes. McGill had injury and off-field issues during his college career, but he is a talented corner that held his own against the plentiful receivers in the PAC. He was projected to be drafted higher, but honestly I think the Chiefs’ Phillip Gaines has more upside than does McGill. He will challenge for a starting spot (or at least situational downs), and if he sees the field, the Chiefs’ receivers will need to lock up their defender to allow Jamaal Charles or the Chiefs tight ends to make a play. This points to the need for Travis Kelce to see the field and De’Anthony Thomas to stretch the defense with his speed.
The Raiders had no fifth or sixth round picks due to previous trades for Matt Schaub and Matt Flynn.
In the seventh round, the Raiders had 3 picks. Their first was Travis (TJ) Carrie, a corner and return man from Ohio. Carrie is fast and has decent size, and made all-conference honors as both a punt returner and cornerback. He is someone the Chiefs should keep an eye on if he makes the field, especially if he is a kick returner. The Raiders second pick in the seventh round was defensive end Shelby Harris from Illinois State. Harris did not even play in 2013 after being kicked off the team. If his past is behind him, there is potential for Harris to see the field in a few years but is likely a developmental prospect for now. With their final pick of the draft, the Raiders selected safety Jonathan Dowling from Western Kentucky, who was kicked off the Florida Gators before joining Western Kentucky. Dowling had 9 interceptions in 2 seasons there, and like Harris, must put his past behind him to make the field.
Overall, most draft experts have been high on the Raiders’ draft. They selected only 2 offensive players and are clearly trying to bolster their defense for the future. The only players that I think will impact their 2014 season are Mack and McGill, neither of which will be too tough for the Chiefs to handle. Oakland sportswriters have expressed that Jackson, Ellis, and McGill will likely see the field in 2014, especially on special teams or in rotations. In my opinion, that would be good news for the Chiefs as they will have more veteran players on the field that can take advantage of rookie mistakes. The other picks are likely developmental and also come with some red flags.
All of Kansas City’s AFC West opponents drafted speedy players for their secondary, and since the Chiefs did not draft or add any threatening wide receivers, they will need to find ways to open their passing game. It could get tiring playing solid a solid secondary each week, and Dwayne Bowe will need to earn his pay in 2014.