The Las Vegas Raiders had one of the best draft hauls in team history in 2014. Nevertheless, they couldn’t capitalize on the talent they acquired, and eight years later, there isn’t much to show for.
Pro Football Focus recently described the Raiders’ 2014 draft class as one of the best four since 2006. That year, they drafted EDGE defender Khalil Mack fourth overall, quarterback Derek Carr in the second round, and guard Gabe Jackson in the third. They also selected defensive tackle Justin Ellis and defensive back Keith McGill in the fourth round and cornerback T.J. Carrie, defensive lineman Shelby Harris and defensive back Jonathan Dowling. However, their first three selections had the most impact for the team.
Mack has earned multiple accolades and is one of the best defenders in the NFL. Carr is an efficient signal-caller and Jackson is a solid starter. Alas, their individual success never translated into team success. The Raiders traded Mack before the 2018 season and Jackson earlier this offseason. Meanwhile, Carr is the only man standing from that class and a top 10 quarterback statistically speaking but hasn’t helped the team get over the hump, but why?
The Las Vegas Raiders haven’t had a good draft track record outside 2014
Carr can surely play better. As good as he is, he needs to cut down on the fumbles. On the other hand, blaming the Raiders’ lack of success on the quarterback is short-sighted. The team hasn’t done a good job of adding talent via free agency nor the draft. Other than running back Josh Jacobs, they haven’t drafted a Pro Bowl player since 2014. Wide receiver Amari Cooper, whom the team drafted fourth overall in 2015, has made four Pro Bowls but was traded in the middle of the 2018 season.
Simply, the Raiders have failed to replenish their roster and instead of becoming a perennial contender, they struggled last year to break even and barely won eight games. You could bring up the 2016 season, but that’s an outlier, as they have five losing seasons and a 41.96 winning percentage since 2014. Now, this isn’t on the players.
The Raiders’ brass has gone through many changes but has still delivered the same results. Whether it is Jon Gruden, Mike Mayock, or Reggie McKenzie, the team has done a bad job of replenishing the roster in recent years. Inefficient coaching hasn’t helped either, former defensive coordinator Paul Guenther failed to put his players in a position to succeed and Gruden’s archaic offensive gameplans have held the team back.
Looking back, the 2014 draft class was supposed to be the turning point for the Raiders. It wasn’t. Instead, the team ended up wasting Carr’s early years. Although there’s a chance the team turns the corner, the results haven’t been encouraging up until now. That doesn’t take away the fact the 2014 class was one of the best in the last 17 years.
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