Yes, the Oakland Raiders are a team on the rise. No, they will still not do well in the upcoming season. General manager Reggie McKenzie has the team headed in the right direction, but the fact of the matter is that 2013 will still have plenty of struggles. McKenzie is taking the right actions to rid the Raiders of numerous past mistakes after inheriting a team essentially in shambles. 2013 will be better, but 2014 could be great.
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The Raiders are a bit of an unknown this upcoming year. There are no signs saying they will be the worst team in the league. Head coach Dennis Allen is doing a great job making sure that will not happen. But, they will not be near the top, which means a top draft pick could be in their future. This will leave McKenzie to make some crucial decisions about what direction to take in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Yes, it is early enough to talk about next year's draft. With college football season around the corner, one of the best players to watch is Teddy Bridgewater. The Raiders thought their quarterback problems were solved with Matt Flynn, but the veteran is well on his way to losing the starting job to Terrelle Pryor. This could lead McKenzie to draft Bridgewater.
Taking a quarterback No. 1 overall is scary in Oakland considering what happened to JaMarcus Russell. But so far, Bridgewater has the skillset of a franchise player. Johnny Manziel is certainly a flashy choice, but Bridgewater has the working of a player to build an offense around. If quarterback concerns continue during the year, Bridgewater is the easy choice. Even if Manziel repeats his Heisman Trophy season, Bridgewater is NFL ready.
However, drafting Bridgewater means Oakland is passing up on possibly a once in a lifetime player, Jadevon Clowney. The South Carolina defensive star is a game changer. He is the Peyton Manning of defenses. He was ready for the NFL his freshman year of college and has just been destroying opposing quarterbacks as he awaits his time to turn pro. Making a defensive player the face of the franchise is never popular, but Oakland fans are certain to love Clowney.
If the Raiders surprise everyone and put up a decent season, everything changes. As of now, their quarterback roster is shaky for 2013 and the future. Pryor appears to be the best option. Flynn was never the quarterback of the future. Rookie Tyler Wilson is struggling to grasp an NFL offense and Matt McGloin is still unknown. 2014 will be filled with quarterback talent including Tajh Boyd from Clemson, Aaron Murray from Georgia and AJ McCarron from Alabama.
2013's draft was successful for the Raiders and an early pick in 2014 could really make the future bright.