Thanks to Chris Steuber's (@ChrisSteuber) efforts Raiders fans (as well as other team's fans) were able to know what college football games the team's scouts were present for. From the list that Steuber was able put together the Raiders scout were at about 18 different games this past college football season that we know of. The most common teams on this list were: West Virginia (3) Oklahoma (2) TCU (2).
Below we will take a look at the prospects these teams have to offer and how they could potentially help the Raiders.
QB Geno Smith
After having Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III in the draft last year many fans wanting a QB will be dissapointed this year as Smith is arguably the best one in this draft. He has some mechanical issues and some still believe that he is a product of the offense he plays in. Seems unlikely Geno Smith ends up a Raider as the Chiefs are likely to continue their trend of losing this year and will just as likely look to replace Cassel with a new QB. Even if the Chiefs pass on him I have to assume the Raiders would field trades for him or simply pass on drafting him altogether. That said I am of the belief that if a GM doe not have his franchise QB (which the Raiders do not) then you always take that guy that you think is or can be wherever you have to on draft day.
Now I am of the opinion that Geno Smith can be low end franchise QB for any team. He can make almost any throw and shows pretty good pocket awareness. The trait I really love about him is that despite his ability to run the football he is always looking to make the pass first and foremost. There are issues with his game and he has seemed to struggle quite a bit against top 25 teams. Despite his struggles as teams seemed to figure him out he has appeared to make his own adjustments. Regardless I still see the Chiefs taking him or another team trading up for him prior to the Raiders selection on Draft Day.
WR Tavon Austin
The player that comes to mind when I think of Austin is always Percy Harvin. This is a comparsion based on their versality. Austin is an all-purpose work horse. He will make make his money in the NFL because of that versatility, likely being a late 1st round or early 2nd round selection. Austin can line up at WR, RB, as well as returning kicks and punts.
The difference between Austin and Harvin (as well as other comparable players) is that his top end speed does not seem to be on par with other shorter players. He is incredibly quick, shifty and good with the ball in his hand. It is hard seeing the Raiders drafting this guy for a few reason: (1) Raiders currently have Jacoby Ford; (2)This draft defense currently takes precedence over offense as far as starters and depth needed; and (3) He likely goes late 1st or early 2nd when the Raiders do not have picks. Will be interesting to see who drafts him and how they work him into the gameplan.
WR Stedman Bailey
Austin gets all the hype, but Bailey is the more reliable receiver. Honestly when I watch Bailey I see a lot of a younger Santana Moss. He runs good routes, good hands, and has the ability to blow the top off a defense, work the shallow routes, and across the middle. He's a little bigger and thicker built than his counterpart and would likely handle getting hit in the NFL a little better. Currently CBS has him projected as a 3rd or 4th rounder. Despite possibly being a later pick than Austin I could easily see Bailey having the better career as he is a more complete receiver.
OT Lane Johnson
Johnson is the best prospect this year out of Oklahoma. He has the strength, length and a mean streak to be a very good offensive tackle in the NFL. He is still raw as this is only his second year on the offensive line, but has greatly improved his technique and hand use. Johnson is projected as late 1st round or early 2nd rounder, which like Tavon Austin, likely limits the chances the Raiders could obtain him unless they traded down and gained a 2nd rounder. This is too bad as Johnson would likely offer competition to Veldheer for the LT spot and at worst solidify that RT spot.
QB Landry Jones
Landry Jones is one of those QBs you can watch, be amazed by and then minutes later he makes a throw that leaves you scratching your head. He has the body type of an NFL QB as well as the arm. His problem is his decision making and ability to deal with pocket pressure do not seem to be on the same level. Many draft experts say his stock is slipping and CBS has him currently projected as a 2nd or 3rd rounder. Jones seems like a very unlikely target for the Raiders this draft.
FS Tony Jefferson
Jefferson seems like a prospect that McKenzie has his eye on. He is capable of playing in the box against the run and dropping back into coverage. Drafting Jefferson would allow some flexibility with the current secondary as Tarver could have the option of keeping Huff at CB, moving him to a nickelback role, or putting both Jefferson and Huff on the field at the same time to create mismatches and confuse offenses. Depending on his combine, interviews, and work outs go he could easily be out of reach unless the Raiders can get a 2nd rounder.
WR Kenny Stills
Stills has good size and speed. Has playmaking ability, but sometimes lacks the focus to make the easy plays. Like many of the other prospects here Stills is projected as possible 2nd or 3rd rounder. I find it hard to believe that the Raiders use one of their early picks on a WR as there are bigger needs and much like last year the WR position is relatively weak overall. Drafting someone like Bailey if he is there in the 4th or another WR seems much more likely. Stills also has had his share of off the field issues which seems to be something that Reggie Mckenzie shies away from.
CB Demontre Hurst
Hurst is on my list of underrated players in college football. He is definitely smaller than is usually wanted for a corner back at the pro level. He makes up for his stature with playmaking ability, the willingness to attack the ball carrier, and his tough yet level headed attitude. He is aggressive and has the ability to recover if he takes a bad step or wrong move. CBS has him projected as a 5th or 6th rounder and I would be more than happy to see the Raiders use a late round pick to add Hurst to their defensive back field. With defensive starters and depth greatly needed it should come as no suprise that scouts from the Raiders were watching the likes of Jefferson and Hurst from Oklahoma.
OG Blaize Foltz
After the mess with QB Casey Pachall earlier this year Blaize Foltz is set to be the only possible draft pick from TCU. CBS has him currently projected as no better than a 7th round or possible FA. He's strong as an ox and has the ability to be good depth along a thin Raiders OL. With Cooper Carlisle likely to retire and Bergstrom primed to fill the gap the Raiders will need to find some backups in case Bergstrom or Briesel were to go down. The biggest question with Foltz is if the coaches feel he could effectively function in the ZBS -- agile enough, good feet movement, etc.
None of these prospects stand out as obvious targets for the Raiders this upcoming draft. Seems that Reggie McKenzie was likely doing his due diligence on Geno Smith and possibly looking at players like Tony Jefferson, Demontre Hurst, and Bailey as quality depth and future starters. FS Jefferson and OT Lane Johnson would be the players to offer the most to the offense and defense from the list above and yet as the draft picks currently sit the Raiders are likely to to miss out on both.