Mel Kiper: Ohio State CB Eli could be 'Apple' of Raiders' eye

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Mel Kiper Jr. admitted he was "reaching" a bit for the Oakland Raiders in his most recent mock draft, taking Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple with the No. 14 overall selection.

But the Raiders do need a cornerback, right? And, well, the draft's top cornerback prospect figures to be long gone by the time Oakland gets on the clock.

"I mean, I don't think Vernon Hargreaves will be there at (No.) 14," Kiper said on a recent conference call with ESPN.com NFL Nation reporters.

"You never know, though. I don't want to say never, but I think the chance of Hargreaves being there are probably two percent, one percent. But if he was, that makes it a little easier."

So what does Kiper see in Apple, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound redshirt sophomore who had 33 tackles, one interception and eight passes defensed last season for the Buckeyes?

"He's got great length and height and overall potential to be a heck of a player," Kiper said. "He's not there yet, so you could roll the dice on Apple.

"You could look at another corner, maybe if you want to stretch it, like Kendall Fuller. If Kendall Fuller would have stayed healthy all year -- he got hurt, he was hurt going into the Ohio State game and didn't play well and then was out -- so if you want to roll the dice there you could."

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie gambled on his first first-round draft pick was used on a cornerback in D.J. Hayden, who was coming off a life-threatening heart injury in college and just played his first season without missing a game.

McKenzie traded back from No. 3 to 12th in 2013 and said he would have still taken Hayden had he not found a willing trade partner in the Miami Dolphins.

So if Hargreaves is gone and the Raiders think the likes of Apple or Fuller at No. 14 are too risky, Kiper sees them reliving some history.

"If you want to trade down you could; that could be another option," Kiper said. "If they feel like it's a little too high for a corner, with Hargreaves gone, they could move off of (No.) 14 and move down and get extra picks. So that's an option as well at that point."