It's December, and the Oakland Raiders are preparing for a meaningful game. How long has it been since you could say that?
The Raiders (5-6) have a statement home game against the Kansas City Chiefs (6-5) on Sunday, and it's what they did in the 2014 NFL Draft that has them in this position. Here's a re-do of last year's draft, one that dramatically changed things for Oakland with the additions of QB Derek Carr, LB Khalil Mack and OL Gabe Jackson -- players I believe would all be top-15 picks today.
1. HOUSTON TEXANS
2. ST. LOUIS RAMS
Comment: It's easy to put one of the talented wide receivers from this class here, but Mack has the potential to be one of the premier defensive talents in football. You don't pass on those guys.
3. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Comment: We could try to get cute here, but the Jaguars desperately needed a quarterback and they are seeing growth from Bortles.
4. BUFFALO BILLS
5. OAKLAND RAIDERS
Comment: Would Al Davis love this pick or what?! Before there was Amari Cooper there was -- nobody, really. Evans has the size and vertical talent that teams love. He's also a touchdown-maker.
6. ATLANTA FALCONS
Comment: The Falcons went offensive line with this selection originally, but Donald is easily the most disruptive defensive lineman from this draft and has been much more productive and consistent than any of the offensive tackles from this draft.
7. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Comment: If we go back and re-draft, then there is no Jameis Winston on the team yet. Bridgewater has shown growth and promise and the Bucs would be smart to take him here in a re-draft.
8. CLEVELAND BROWNS
Comment: Irony time. The last time around, Cleveland traded out of the fourth spot rather than taking the talented Watkins. This time around, we'll stick Watkins with them in the eighth slot.
9. MINNESOTA VIKINGS
10. DETROIT LIONS
Comment: It's never a bad idea to bolster the offensive line with Pro Bowl talent, so Martin is the pick.
11. TENNESSEE TITANS
12. NEW YORK GIANTS
13. ST. LOUIS RAMS
14. CHICAGO BEARS
Comment: The Bears could go in several different directions in this spot, but they need solid, reliable and productive talent, and that is what Mosley gives them.
15. PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Comment: The Steelers have been willing to draft along the offensive line over the last few years in an attempt to get their trenches where they want them. Jackson is a mauler who can open holes and step right into the left guard spot.
16. DALLAS COWBOYS
Comment: Lynch is a pass-rush specialist with an edge that defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli should be able to mold.
17. BALTIMORE RAVENS
Comment: Former offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak was on this staff for this selection and I'm quite certain that he loved the athletic Aggie tackle who could have fit right into the zone scheme.
18. NEW YORK JETS
Comment: The Jets were in need of a playmaker in 2014 and Freeman has proven himself to be extremely dangerous on the ground and out of the backfield.
19. MIAMI DOLPHINS
Comment: While I think he was better last season than he has been in 2015, Bitonio is a perfect scheme fit for the Dolphins in 2014 (and now) and would have addressed a need.
20. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Comment: I would say the Saints have been very happy with Cooks up to this point, so why change a thing with this selection?
21. GREEN BAY PACKERS
22. CLEVELAND BROWNS
Comment: There were some concerns about Roby's character headed into the 2014 draft, but he hasn't been a problem thus far. He's proven to be a talented cornerback who would have made a great pairing with Joe Haden.
23. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Comment: The Chiefs needed a wide receiver in 2014 and Landry has shown that his lack of impressive timed speed is irrelevant compared to his play speed and outstanding competitiveness. Landry would be a great fit with Andy Reid.
24. CINCINNATI BENGALS
25. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
Comment: Things aren't always going to be easy when you are dealing with Bryant, but his size, speed and ability to hit the big play are undeniable. Great complement for Keenan Allen.
26. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Comment: Matthews has been solid in Philadelphia, although he could use a little better quarterback play. Why not take him here?
27. ARIZONA CARDINALS
Comment: Lewan has had some struggles in protection, but the Cardinals really needed a tackle before the 2014 season and Lewan has the potential to develop into a more consistent starter at either tackle spot in the future.
28. CAROLINA PANTHERS
Comment: Hyde has had some injury issues and has had to run behind a shaky offensive line, but we've seen flashes of what he's capable of. Hyde's youth and power would be a great complement to what Cam Newton brings to the table.
29. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Comment: We all know that predicting a Bill Belichick draft pick is fruitless, but we also know that he loves an athletic, two-tight-end set, and Ebron gives Brady another matchup toy to play with.
30. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Comment: Even before he retired, the play from Anthony Davis wasn't matching up with the paycheck -- especially in pass protection. James would be a nice prospect to groom for that right tackle spot.
31. DENVER BRONCOS
Comment: The Broncos added a third cornerback with ball skills and starting potential. We'll give them the same type of player here with Verrett.
32. MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Comment: If we are to adhere to all of the draft slots that took place in that draft, the Vikings would be trading up for a reason and that reason would be to pick a quarterback. Based on potential, I think it's reasonable that Garoppolo could sneak into this "trade-up" spot for a team looking for a quarterback.