The rich get richer and Raider Nation turning a corner.
The three day process is finally over, and the constant over analyzing of draft prospects is done. Now the real works begin for two franchises trying to get back into the glory days when they were on top of the NFL.
In spite of having one of the deepest and most talented rosters in the NFL, the 49ers came into the 2014 draft with a number of needs that can help them get over the hump. And with 11 picks, San Francisco was in great shape to address multiple areas on defense and offense. First, the 49ers recognize the primary strength that catapulted them to the elite level they are defense.
Out of San Francisco’s 11 picks in the draft, seven of them were on the defensive side. Yet the 49ers first pick in the draft caused people to shake their heads, as many thought they would trade up to get a wide receiver or cornerback, instead they drafted a strong safety in Jimmie Ward.
Strong safety Jimmie Ward should not be expected to take over the starting job at the position in his rookie year. Off season acquisition Antoine Bethea with a four-year, $21 million contract should do that.
From there, San Francisco tabbed Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde.
Hyde may be the eventual replacement to the veteran Frank Gore, who will turn 31 years old at the start of the season ancient for NFL running backs.
While Hyde is a beast, San Francisco’s backfield is extremely crowded behind Gore. Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James and Marcus Lattimore will be vying for carries.
The 49ers also added bulk to their offensive line, by drafting both immediate and potentially future needs. Marcus Martin may step in at center over the recently extended Daniel Kilgore if Kilgore fails to earn the starting job.
Brandon Thomas also fills a pending need in case Pro Bowler Mike Iupati walks after his 2014 contract year. Coming off an ACL injury, Thomas will likely redshirt his rookie season.
Yet one of the bigger needs San Francisco had to address during this draft was the addition of a wide receiver.
Ironically , the 49ers did this twice; once by drafting Bruce Ellington and also by trading for Buffalo Bills wideout Stevie Johnson in exchange for a conditional fourth-round pick in 2015.
All-in-all, it is hard to argue with almost every one of San Francisco’s actions during this draft. There were some surprises and a number of steals.
Now comes the big task putting all these pieces together to securing a sixth Super Bowl.
I give them an A grade.
Full List of Draft Picks for the San Francisco 49ners:
Round 1, Pick No. 30 Overall: Jimmie Ward, SS, Northern Illinois
Round 2, Pick No. 57 Overall: Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
Round 3, Pick No. 70 Overall: Marcus Martin, C, USC
Round 3, Pick No. 77 Overall: Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin
Round 3, Pick No. 100 Overall: Brandon Thomas, G, Clemson
Round 4, Pick No. 106 Overall: Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina
Round 4, Pick No. 129 Overall: Dontae Johnson, CB, North Carolina State
Round 5, Pick No. 150 Overall: Aaron Lynch, DE, South Florida
Round 5, Pick No. 170 Overall: Keith Reaser, CB, Florida Atlantic
Round 6, Pick No. 180 Overall: Kenneth Acker, CB, Southern Methodist
Round 7, Pick No. 243 Overall: Kaleb Ramsey, DT, Boston College
Round 7, Pick No. 245 Overall: Trey Millard, FB, Oklahoma
Now Raider Nation should be very excited about the 2014 Raiders’ draft class. Raiders fans have had bad experiences on draft weekend, but came out this draft with tons of hope and promise.
This draft class for the Raiders has a solid mixture of players that can make an immediate impact right away and players that will be a part of their foundation for years to come.
One of the biggest keys for the Raiders this draft was to get full time starters right away to play with the new faces on offense and defense. Their first pick Khalil Mack will come in and be a full-time starter right away. Head coach Dennis Allen will use him in multiple ways. Mack was one of the draft’s elite pass-rushers and with him on one side and Sio Moore on the other, they’ll give Oakland’s pass rush a boost in 2014.
Then they turned their focus to offense and picked up their quarterback of the future, Derek Carr of Fresno State. Carr gives the Raiders a plan at quarterback beyond the 2014 season. Carr was considered to be the best pure passer in this draft and also comes into a situation where he doesn’t have to start right away. As Matt Schaub is the starter in 2014. He can take the next year to work on his weaknesses and improve.
Oakland also got a starting guard in the third round. And a big big cornerback who will probably find himself playing special teams to start. All in all when you look at the Raiders’ draft picks and all of their free-agency moves, you can see this team has improved tremendously in a short period of time.
Their quarterback of the future, Derek Carr, may not start this year, but the team is equipped to win now. It will be up to the coaching staff to put the final piece together, to revive Raider Nation back to the playoffs.
I give them an A grade.
Full List of Draft Picks for the Oakland Raiders:
Round 1, Pick 5: Khalil Mack, Outside Linebacker, Buffalo
Round 2, Pick 36: Derek Carr, Quarterback, Fresno State
Round 3, Pick 81: Gabe Jackson, Guard, Mississippi State
Round 4, Pick 107: Justin Ellis, Defensive Tackle, Louisiana Tech
Round 4, Pick 116: Keith McGill, Cornerback, Utah
Round 7, Pick 219: Travis Carrie, Cornerback/Kick Returner, Ohio
Round 7, Pick 235: Shelby Harris, Defensive End, Illinois State
Round 7, Pick 247: Jonathan Dowling, Safety, Western Kentucky