Bay Area NFL teams get set for draft

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Assistant sports editor Kevin Lucena Photo credit: Trevor Ryan

With the 2015 NFL draft in Chicago quickly approaching, it’s time to take make some predictions for who the Oakland Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers will take with their first round picks.

Oakland Raiders

Fourth Overall Pick

Mel Kiper, ESPN

Kevin White – West Virginia

The gap between White and Alabama’s 20-year old wide receiver Amari Cooper is closer than ever after White’s impressive 4.35 40-yard dash and strong performance in the positional workouts at the combine. With such an early pick, the Raiders will have their choice of which wide receiver they want if they choose to draft an offensive weapon.

Todd McShay, ESPN

Leonard Williams — USC

If the Raiders choose to draft a defensive player, McShay believes the selection should be Leonard Williams of USC.

After the success of 2014 rookie linebacker Khalil Mack last season, the pair would give the Raiders a formidable force in the middle of their defense.

Kevin Lucena, The Orion

Leonard Williams — USC

I have to agree with McShay on this one. The saying “defense wins championships” has survived so long for a reason.

This draft is projected as one of the deepest at the wide receiver position in years. The Raiders should either keep building their defense up through the draft and take a receiver later on or trade down and accumulate more picks to acquire young talent.

Any 49ers fan could tell the Raiders’ fans not to except much out of recent free-agent signee Michael Crabtree, who had his worst season of his career in 2014. Drafting a wide receiver needs to happen for the Raiders — just not before they find an anchor for their defensive line.

San Francisco 49ers

15th Overall Pick

Mel Kiper, ESPN

Arik Armstead — Oregon

With Justin Smith’s future still undecided, the 49ers brought in Darnell Dockett to play on the end of the defensive line. But he’s going to be 34 years old in May and is coming off a season lost to an arm injury. Armstead is a player who can develop into a star if given enough time and opportunity to grow. With Smith and Dockett around to show him the ropes, San Francisco could be an ideal landing spot for the former Duck.

Todd McShay, ESPN

Trae Waynes — Michigan State

Having lost Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox in free agency, McShay believes that Waynes is a solid value as the 15th pick in the draft as the top-ranked corner on the board. He displays very good technique and straight line speed —4.35 40-yard time — and is best in press man cover 2 alignments.

Kevin Lucena, The Orion

Jalen Collins — LSU

Losing two starting cornerbacks in Culliver and Cox means their positions will be addressed early on in the draft.

Unfortunately, I don’t see a way Waynes lasts until the 49ers pick, so he’s off the board. If that is true, don’t be surprised to see the 49ers draft Collins, who at 6 foot 2 inches has the rare combination of size and speed that so many teams are looking for in a secondary these days.

If the 49ers do decide to draft a wide receiver to give Kaepernick another weapon, the name off the board will most likely be Dorial Green-Beckham of Missouri, who at one point was the top high school player in the country.

Both teams must address holes on their defense in the first round. With the wide receiver position once again the deepest pool in the draft, the Raiders and 49ers can both wait to grab offensive weapons for their quarterbacks.

Kevin Lucena can be reached at [email protected] or @klucena824 on Twitter.