Photo by Tony Gonzales
The Oakland Raiders started the 2014 NFL Draft with seven draft picks. After trading down in the 3rd round, the Raiders picked up an extra 4th round selection and concluded the draft with eight picks.
In the first round, the Raiders selected LB Khalil Mack out of Buffalo with the 5th overall pick. “When you watch Khalil play, he plays the game like it’s supposed to be played,” said General Manager Reggie McKenzie. “He plays hard, he plays physical, and he goes from snap to whistle.”
The 6’3”, 251-pound linebacker was a first-team All American as a senior and led the MAC with 10.5 sacks. In 48 games at Buffalo, Mack recorded 327 tackles, 28.5 sacks, 75 tackles for loss and 31 quarterback pressures. He also caused 16 fumbles, which is an NCAA record.
Mack was in the Green Room at Radio City Music Hall when he learned he was drafted by the Raiders. He then flew to Oakland Friday morning – his first-ever trip to California – to visit Raiders headquarters. He met the coaching staff, toured the building and was introduced to the media and Raider Nation in a press conference.
“He’s physical. He’s tough,” said Director of Player Personnel Joey Clinkscales. “He’s able to rush the passer, obviously from standing up, with his hand in the dirt. He gives you speed. The versatility, I mean I could go on and on. I love the player and I love the pick.”
Mack was the first of six defensive players chosen by the Raiders in the 2014 NFL Draft.
With the 36th overall pick, the Raiders drafted QB Derek Carr out of Fresno State. “In evaluating him, we thought he could definitely throw the ball. He was athletic. All the things that we were looking for in a quarterback, we felt like he had,” said McKenzie. “He played different styles of offense. He played under center, and of course he played in the spread offense. Bottom line, he was an extremely smart football player, he knew how to read defenses. He was one of those guys that you knew he knew how to play the position. We had a chance to get a really good player, and we jumped at it.”
Among active NCAA players, Carr ranked second in touchdown passes (113), fourth in total offense (13,032 yards), third in passing yardage (12,842 yards), second in pass completions (1,086), third in pass attempts (1,630) and fourth in touchdowns responsible (118). The Bakersfield-native started 39 games at Fresno State and completed 66.69 percent of his passes.
“Honestly, I’m a football player. I’ll play anywhere, but the fact that it’s in Oakland, I can’t tell you how happy I am,” said Carr. “I am going to come in and work, compete and try and make the team better. I’m not a selfish guy, that’s for sure. I can’t wait to get coached by those coaches.”
The Raiders selected G Gabe Jackson in the 3rd round (81st overall). The 6’3”, 336-pound offensive lineman out of Mississippi State was a two-time All-American and four-time All-SEC selection. Jackson was credited with 20 touchdown blocks in his senior season. He was also the first offensive linemen to ever win the Conerly Trophy presented to the top collegiate player in the state of Mississippi.
“I feel like I fit in with their physical play,” said Jackson. “They like strong, physical offensive linemen.”
Jackson was drafted by the Silver and Black for a reason. “I think he could come in and play pretty early for anybody. He’s a powerful, physical young man,” said Clinkscales. “When you’re building a guard, physically, that’s what they look like. Once he gets on the field and competes with the other guys, then we’ll see how that turns out. I am pretty confident that Gabe will come in and compete and be tough and be exactly what we expect him to be.”
The Raiders had two picks in the 4th round. For their first pick (107th overall), they selected DT Justin Ellis, a 6’1”, 334-pounder out of Louisiana Tech. Ellis finished his college career with 102 tackles and caused two fumbles. The Monroe, La.-native impressed at both the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl.
The Raiders newest defensive tackle is looking forward to working with the veterans on Oakland’s defensive line. “I’m honored to be able to work with those guys,” said Ellis. “Justin Tuck is another guy that I think is a good defensive tackle, D-lineman, period. LaMarr Woodley, all those guys, I think they are great professional athletes. I’m happy to be a part of the Oakland Raiders.”
With their second pick of the 4th round (116th overall), the Raiders drafted CB Keith McGill out of Utah. The big converted-safety recorded 109 tackles, forced two fumbles, blocked two kicks and tallied 21 passes defensed, and added 12 interceptions.
During his senior season, McGill was named third-team All-American and All-Pac 12 first-team by The NFL Draft Report. McGill had a good feeling about the Raiders prior to being drafted. “I had a private visit there and they really liked my ability to press off the line and how I was able to move,” said McGill. “They said not a lot of other big guys can do what I was doing. I kind of got a good feel.”
The Raiders had to wait until the 7th round to select another player, but had three opportunities to do so in the final round.
With their first pick in the 7th (219th overall), the Raiders selected CB T.J. Carrie out of Ohio. Carrie is a native of Antioch, Calif., and ran track against CB Taiwan Jones. He also attended De La Salle, Maurice Jones-Drew’s alma mater. Carrie is also familiar with former Raiders safety Mike Mitchell, who was a senior when Carrie was a true freshman.
Carrie was named First-Team All-MAC as a punt returner as a senior and Third Team as a defensive back. During the draft process, the 6’, 206-pound corner felt good about his interaction with the Silver and Black. “I had a visit with them and then they actually came and worked me out, too,” said Carrie. “The visit was great, it was awesome. Loved the staff and loved the facility and the program. The whole defensive scheme that they laid out and the film, adjusted to the coaches and everything like that. The vibe felt good. Me and my agent talked a little bit about the situation, so we kind of had a hunch for something that was going down in this process. Excited to be here.”
The Raiders followed the Carrie selection with DE Shelby Harris with the 235th overall pick out of Illinois State. Harris did not play college football in 2013, but was First-Team All-MVFC in 2012.
He’s looking forward to his opportunity in Oakland. “Just to have my name called was a great feeling,” said Harris. “Just knowing that it’s official, and I’m part of Raider Nation. I couldn’t be more excited.”
The Raiders scouting department liked what they saw from Harris during his college career. “He was a football player,” said McKenzie. “He’s one of those guys who knows how to use his hands and he finds the football. Some guys just have it. The instinct is to locate the ball and get there, and he did a very good job of that.”
With their final pick of the 2014 NFL Draft (247th overall), the Raiders selected S Jonathan Dowling out of Western Kentucky. As a senior, Dowling totaled 67 tackles, three interceptions and six forced fumbles. Dowling is ready to contribute to the Raiders in any way he can. “As far as what I can do, whatever they ask me to do, I am going to do,” said Dowling. “Whatever they want, I plan on doing it. I am just ready to play, whether it’s at corner, safety, whatever it is, I am going to do it full speed.”
Dowling will have the opportunity to learn from veterans Charles Woodson and Tyvon Branch. “I’m ready to learn everything from ‘C-Wood,’” said Dowling “I always looked up to him. He’s done things the right way. He’s played as long as anybody should want to play. I’m just ready to get next to him and read him like an open book.”
The eight Raiders draft picks are eager and ready to don the Silver and Black. McKenzie was pleased with his 2014 draft. “From top to bottom, we felt like we got true Raiders,” said McKenzie. “Guys who love football, guys who really want to be physical, we feel like we got some great size, guys who can play with some power and we got some guys that can run. We got a big corner, [a] big offensive lineman, [a] big d-lineman. We wanted to get bigger. We wanted to be more physical, because we feel that’s the Raider way. We feel we did that this weekend.”