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Draft Buzz: Raiders Coaches Pushing for Cooper, Execs Want Leonard Williams

The Oakland Raiders have several major needs this offseason and could go several different ways with the fourth overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft.

If the Raiders choose to draft a wide receiver, will they value Alabama’s Amari Cooper over Kevin White of West Virginia? Would they consider a defensive stud like Leonard Williams if he falls to No. 4?

Watch as Adam Lefkoe and Bleacher Report NFL Draft Analyst Matt Miller discuss the latest Raiders buzz in the video above.

Read more Oakland Raiders news on BleacherReport.com


The Complete Oakland Raiders Draft Primer

Finally, the draft is here.

For a 3-13 team that hasn’t seen the postseason in more than a decade like the Oakland Raiders, rebuilding is the name of the game. The process started out successfully with an efficient free-agency period. The draft provides the last opportunity to add some desperately needed game-changing talent.

All of the reports, rumors, interviews, pro days and film-watching comes down to this. With high picks in every round, the Raiders are in prime position to add several major pieces and finally get out of the NFL‘s basement. The only thing left to do is actually make the picks.

The top three picks are going to be especially important for Oakland, as these selections have to result in starters. The rest of the picks will also be important, as the Raiders have to turn them into reliable depth at several positions.

After a successful 2014 draft and a very good crop of 2015 free agents, the Raiders are on the verge of finally turning things around.

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Oakland Raiders Mock Draft: B/R Community Top 100 and 7-Round Results

The talented NFL writers of Bleacher Report were asked to put their general manager hats on for the teams they cover on a regular basis.

Every pick from No.1 to No. 100 was picked in real draft order without the element of trade involved. Yours truly played the role of Reggie McKenzie for the Oakland Raiders in a community-style mock draft for the first three selections.

As for Rounds 4 to 7, each honorary GM was able to select any of the available players who best fit his or her team in a vacuum. In other words, picks beyond the top 100 had no connection with another team’s pick. However, each selection was a realistic choice based on draft projections.

Without further ado, here’s B/R’s official community top 100 and the Raiders’ complete mock draft.

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Realistic Draft Trade Possibilities for the Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie has made it clear his lines are open for business when it comes to trading the fourth overall pick.

According to CSNBayArea.com reporter Scott Bair, McKenzie didn’t confirm the Raiders were actively looking for a trade, but they consider offers: 

Reporter: Have you gotten phone calls from other teams inquiring about the No. 4 overall pick?

McKenzie: (pause) Yes.

It’s not shocking news that teams would gauge McKenzie’s interest in trading out of the No. 4 overall pick. It’s rational for McKenzie to know what he might get for the selection.

“My phone line is always open,” McKenzie said. “You hear everybody out. If it makes sense and it’s going to help the Raiders, we’ll do a deal.”

This wouldn’t be the first time Oakland traded a top-five overall pick. In 2013, McKenzie traded out of the No. 3 spot back to No. 12 and selected D.J. Hayden. That hasn’t panned out so well thus far.

Who are Oakland’s most likely trade partners for the 2015 draft? We’ll examine who might be on the other line when McKenzie picks up the phone on draft day and delve into how it affects drafting strategies for Rounds 1 and 2.

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Oakland Raiders: Breaking Down 5 Toughest, 5 Easiest Games on 2015 Schedule

With the release of the Oakland Raiders‘ 2015 season schedule, the opportunity has arrived to take a look ahead and make some early predictions for the team’s performance in the upcoming NFL season.

You might be thinking to yourself, “But there’s still the draft! And rosters are going to continue to take shape throughout the summer!” You might be thinking that, perhaps, it would be prudent to wait at least a little longer, at least until after the draft, before trying to make such predictions. Maybe you’re right.

But where’s the fun in that?

Yes, teams will make major additions in the upcoming draft. There’ll also be plenty of turnover at various positions leading up to training camp, during training camp and throughout the preseason. But here’s what we do know:

  • The Oakland roster is much improved from last season.
  • The Raiders were better (at least slightly) than their final 3-13 record indicated.
  • Several of the teams on Oakland’s slate have established identities, which means there’s a reasonable expectation of what we’ll see from them in 2015.

With that in mind, we can start to differentiate the more difficult matchups from the easiest ones. Of course, “easiest” is a relative term. There are no actual easy games on Oakland’s schedule. However, there are some games that, as of now, seem more winnable than others. In this regard, these matchups will be considered the easiest games on the schedule.

Here’s a look at the Raiders’ five toughest and five easiest matchups for the upcoming season. The toughest ones are games Oakland is likely to lose. The easiest are games that Oakland can, and should, win.

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Home Run-Threat WR Headlines Oakland Raiders Ultimate 2015 Draft Plan

The Oakland Raiders have several needs to address in the 2015 NFL draft.

Who could the Raiders select with the fourth overall pick? What positions should they focus on?

Watch as Adam Lefkoe and Bleacher Report NFL Analyst Chris Simms discuss the Raiders’ ultimate draft plan in the video above.

Read more Oakland Raiders news on BleacherReport.com

Oakland Raiders 2015 Schedule: Win-Loss Predictions for Every Game

Are you ready for some football? Well, not quite yet but let’s get prepared with the official release of the NFL schedule, per NFL.com. Realistically, the Oakland Raiders are looking at an 8-8 season.

Playoff contenders aren’t cultivated overnight, but Raider Nation will see significant progress from the Silver and Black. Nonetheless, the franchise is still a season away from making a legitimate playoff push.

The basis of these predictions were made with a major concern for the Raiders secondary. The starting cornerbacks are a major concern heading into the season. Teams with explosive wide receivers capable of going over the top or dominating with physicality have the advantage over the defense. 

On a positive note, teams that struggle to move the ball vertically match up poorly against the Raiders.

Jack Del Rio’s defensive expertise and the use high draft picks on defensive prospects will hold more running backs under 100 rushing yards than in recent history.

Keep in mind rosters aren’t set and early predictions are subject to change.

Here are the predictions for all 16 games this season. The Raiders’ bye week is Week 6.

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2015 Oakland Raiders Schedule: Full Listing of Dates, Times and TV Info

All 32 teams enter the 2015 NFL season with optimism and identical 0-0 records, so the Oakland Raiders can take solace in that fact even if they aren’t quite ready to contend for the playoffs.

A new head coach in Jack Del Rio has taken the helm for the Silver and Black, and he’ll be dealing with a roster featuring a ton of moving parts and new additions.

The patchwork job general manager Reggie McKenzie attempted prior to last season backfired in a big way. It’s therefore likely a year still remains before Oakland makes a big move in the NFL hierarchy.

Now that the full schedule has been released through NFL.com, let’s take a closer look at the Raiders’ makeup, analyze their most pivotal matchups and figure out how they might fare in 2015 with those factors in mind.

 

Analysis

By most accounts, quarterback Derek Carr had a promising rookie campaign in 2014. It’s hard not to be excited about that. Carr has amazing arm talent, a natural football savvy, plenty of competitive fire and underrated athleticism that ought to be utilized more.

Latavius Murray has all the makings of a breakout star at running back. He flashed well when he took up the feature role last year, but a horrendous offensive line prevented both him and Carr from showing their true upside.

Carr seems to feel comfortable with Del Rio at the helm, as he expressed in an April 6 press conference (via Rebecca Corman of the Raiders’ official website):

The first thing I thought is, “Oh, he played before.” That’s the first thing I thought. Really, with our whole coaching staff, we’d win a lot of fights with our coaching staff. The first thing I thought was that, and then the second thing was, “This guy really cares about this organization.” That was really my one takeaway. I said I could really tell that this guy cared about me as a person, and I could really tell that he cared about the Raiders winning Super Bowls.

Del Rio can help the defense only to a degree. Depth in the secondary is limited, though Charles Woodson looms as a veteran leader, and linebackers Sio Moore and Khalil Mack figure to be franchise fixtures for years to come.

A top draft pick can be used to bolster the defense, though Carr could use whomever Oakland feels is the best receiver in the draft at No. 4 overall. It’s an intriguing position for McKenzie to be in, but he must nail the pick.

If Carr really is a franchise QB, he figures to make a big leap this year. James Jones, Rod Streater and Andre Holmes may provide just enough in the receiving corps for Carr to produce at a high level, provided Murray can pound the rock to keep opponents honest.

 

Pivotal Matchups

The division games should be fascinating. San Diego tends to get off to slow starts, while Kansas City has been squarely in the playoff picture since coach Andy Reid’s arrival in 2013.

Then, the Denver Broncos, whom Del Rio served as defensive coordinator for before heading to Oakland, have legendary QB Peyton Manning playing perhaps his final year in the NFL. Manning may not have enough left in the tank to still be elite.

So many variables exist with all of the teams involved. The argument could be made that Carr has the most natural passing ability at this point than any of his counterparts.

None of the road trips are particularly terrifying, so it’s up to the Raiders to hold court at home. They have tough tests versus Green Bay, Minnesota, Cincinnati and Baltimore. The toughest among those figures to be the Packers.

Superstar Green Bay signal-caller Aaron Rodgers leads a dynamic passing attack that will test ex-Packer Woodson and Co. on the back end in Oakland. The Black Hole makes for a tough place for even the most elite opponents to play, and the change in time zone helps the Raiders’ cause to surprise.

Immediate improvement should be expected under Del Rio. It just won’t be enough for Oakland to win enough of its marquee games, which will result in only a slight improvement from 2014, with a record of approximately 6-10.

Read more Oakland Raiders news on BleacherReport.com

Regrading the Oakland Raiders’ Past 5 Drafts

The NFL draft is a week away and it’s fitting we look back at the Oakland Raiders‘ mixed history of draft day successes and failures.

The draft is where teams either build or destroy their franchises—sometimes for the short-term and in other cases for the long-term. Recently, the Raiders have taken leaps toward rejuvenation, but some significant missteps at the beginning of the decade have slowed the progress during Reggie McKenzie’s tenure as general manager.

This assessment isn’t to blame all the Raiders’ woes on the late Al Davis, who served as his own GM, but there’s a clear difference between the pre- and the post-Davis era in Oakland.

The last five drafts were graded based on the following criteria:

-Were early round selections immediate impact players?

-How well did the franchise draft in the mid-to-late rounds?

-What is the current role of all the prospects originally drafted by Raiders?

The table below shows a cumulative tally of the last 41 players drafted by Oakland in the past five years. 

Oakland Raiders Draft Prospects from 2010-14
Starters: 17
Reserves: 18
Inactives: 6

Subsequently, we’ll dive into each draft year and dissect the pitfalls and gems that help or hurt the franchise.

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NFL Draft Twitter Mailbag: Burning Questions for Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders hold the fourth overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft and could address a number of different positions at this spot. 

Which position should the Raiders target? Could Oakland trade down?

Watch as Stephen Nelson and Bleacher Report Analyst Matt Miller discuss the Oakland Raiders’ upcoming draft strategy. 

Read more Oakland Raiders news on BleacherReport.com