Most NFL mock drafts have the Raiders taking linebacker Roquan Smith with their first-round pick. While this will certainly fill a need, there might be another position worth considering.
Oakland Raiders – Making a Case for Mike McGlinchey in the First Round of the NFL Draft
Quarterback Derek Carr has sustained two major injuries each of the past two seasons. A broken leg ended his 2016 season in week 15, and last year Carr suffered a transverse process fracture in his back. He only missed one game, but it was obvious it affected him the rest of the season.
Protecting Carr should be the Raiders highest priority. He is after all the third highest paid quarterback in the league, behind only Jimmy Garoppolo and Matt Stafford. While the Raiders are strong in the middle of the offensive line, they could stand to upgrade at the offensive tackle positions.
Left tackle Donald Penn will be 35 years old when the 2018 NFL season starts. He is coming off perhaps his worst year as an Oakland Raider and finished last season on injured reserve after undergoing foot surgery. Penn will also be entering the final year of a two-year $21 million contract extension signed last year.
The Raiders are rumored to be interviewing top NFL tackles during the combine in Indianapolis. Head Coach Jon Gruden has also expressed come concern about the tackle position, recently saying ““We had some inconsistency at right tackle, (Marshall Newhouse) had his moments where he played well, and moments where he obviously struggled.”
The 2018 NFL Draft offensive tackle class is not deep. In fact, this year’s class doesn’t feature a single prospect worthy of a top-10 selection. Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey is this year’s top-ranked tackle and plays the most important left tackle position. McGlinchey stands 6’7″ and weighs 310 pounds. He has good athleticism on the edge with the feet to handle speed and good strength to sustain blocks. McGlinchey also is a quality run blocker who can get movement at the point of attack. McGlinchey doesn’t have ideal movement skills. His length can offset some of these deficiencies, but he still may struggle to handle the NFL’s athletic edge rushers. At the very least, McGlinchey could be used on the right side, replacing Marshall Newhouse.
Should the Raiders select McGlinchey in the top 10? Probably not. But if the Raiders have a chance to trade down and land in the late teens or early twenties, he would be hard to pass up. Protecting Carr for the remainder of his career is pivotal for the Raiders, which means the team needs to get younger at the offensive tackle position. Having Carr and a solid tackle on the left side of the line protecting his blind side for the next ten years should be something this team should consider. The team just can’t afford to have Carr get hurt again.