The Oakland Raiders have needs all over the roster, and with the No. 5 overall pick in May’s NFL draft, it would seem likely they can address at least one of them with their first selection.
Of course, general manager Reggie McKenzie more than intimated he wants a playmaker. And more than a few prospects have already acquitted themselves quite well at the combine, thank you very much.
A brief look, then, at five who have impressed thus far in Indianapolis, but will they still be there at No. 5 come the draft?
WR Sammy Watkins (Clemson)
Sure, he seems to be Denarius Moore 2.0, but if he’s more consistent, that would be an upgrade, no? The 6-foot-1, 211-pound Watkins put on a show Sunday, running a 4.43-second 40-yard dash and showing body control and quick-twitch shiftiness in a 6.95-second three-cone drill and a 4.34-second 20-yard shuttle run. He also had a 34-inch vertical leap and a 126-inch broad jump. Perhaps more importantly, though, Watkins displayed his soft-yet-strong hands in catching passes.
QB Blake Bortles (Central Florida)
A seeming clone of Ben Roethlisberger, the statuesque Bortles (6-5, 232) surprised with athleticism. He ran a 4.93 40, while leaping 32.5 inches in the vertical jump and 115 inches in the broad jump, better than Teddy Bridgewater or Johnny Manziel, both of whom had 113-inch broad jumps. Where Bortles may have given himself an edge was in the fact that he actually threw to receivers, unlike Bridgewater and Manziel. Bortles showed an above-average arm as well as some touch on deep balls.
WR Mike Evans (Texas A&M)
Many are starting to wonder if the big (6-5, 231) pass-catcher is more what the Raiders need. He’s not a burner (4.53 40) but he had a 37-inch vertical leap and timed a 4.26-second 20-yard shuttle run, faster than Watkins. Not necessarily playmaker numbers, but he is a football player, as McKenzie is fond of saying, and many see Evans as having the skill set to become a No. 1 receiver, rather than just a possession receiver.
OT Greg Robinson (Auburn)
The Raiders will have an issue on the offensive line if they are unable to re-sign left tackle Jared Veldheer. Robinson could be an option in that scenario. He blew minds on Saturday. The 6-5, 332-pounder ran a 4.92-second 40-yard dash and he also had a 113-inch broad jump with 32 reps in the bench press. His showing in positional drills has many wondering if he could turn into the draft’s top overall prospect.
OT Jake Matthews (Texas A&M)
The 6-5, 308-pounder turned in the second-most impressive workout of an offensive tackle and, as noted earlier, if Veldheer is gone, the Raiders could do worse than to take a look at Matthews. He ran a 5.07-second 40 and added a 30.5-inch vertical leap and a 7.34-second three-cone drill. His blocking technique was considered flawless, which showcased his agility.