Category Archives: NFL Draft

Raiders Draft: Who to pick in Round One? 

It’s finally here! It seems like I say that every year. Well, every year I’m excited for the NFL Draft. Dreams are made, fans hopes are up and many hearts get broken. Sounds pretty exciting, if you ask me.

Who will our precious Silver and Black select? Here are some ideas as well as my selection.

The Fans’ Pick: Obi Melifonwu, S, UCONN

All the fans love this pick. For good reason too. Melifonwu is the kind of prospect who Al Davis will turn in his grave for. The big-bodied and fast safety made a name for him self at the NFL Combine and Senior Bowl. Melifonwu Los has experience as a productive corner and safety at UCONN. He could develop into Reggie Nelson’s eventual replacement. The only issue with this pick is that the safety class is so deep. The Raiders could get a guy just as capable in the second round.

The Dark Horse: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

You never want to reach for a need in the NFL Draft. However, Robinson has an argument to be the best tackle in this class. He has big game experience that dates back to his days at Bama. Robinson has the size and athleticism to be the long-term answer at either of the Raiders’ tackle spots. Ultimately, there are some questions about his ability to finish run blacks and his balance/technique in pass pro. Luckily, the Raiders have some veterans at the position to help groom Robinson. Personally, I think Robinson is a better value in round two. Nonetheless, Mike Mayock pegged him here. 

Draft Crush: Kevin King, CB, Washington

Everytime we play the Chiefs, I believe that Marcus Peters should be a Raider. His play style and swagger would have fit perfect with Oakland. Now, King isn’t quite the same player as Peters. However, he is a big and fast corner from the Bay Area. King played safety and corner at Washington so he brings the versatility that the Raiders need. He should immediately challenge for the nickel corner position. King might even challenge David Amerson and Sean Smith for starting roles on the outside. King has the size and ball skills to develop into the Raiders eventual starter on the outside. He might not be available at No. 24, but it would be really hard for the Raiders to pass on the Bay Area kid.

The Gamble: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama

Draft experts have nothing bad to say about Foster’s tape out of Alabama. However, he could fall to the Raiders due to off-field concerns. Foster had an incident that got him sent home from the NFL Combine. He also tested positive at the Combine. Then, he’s got size and injury concerns. Plus, Oakland is still haunted by the demons of another former Bama linebacker taken in the first round, Rolando McClain. I say no but the Raiders may roll the dice.

The Al Davis Pick: John Ross,  WR, Washington

Questions about his size, ankle, knee and shouler health could make Ross tumble in the draft. You think Al Davis would care about any of that? Ross broke the NFL Combine record for the 40-yard dash with a sub-4.3 40-time. Not to mention, he was highly productive at Washington. Ross’ route tree is extensive, his hands are good and he is Cali-native. Al Davis would make this pick despite the Raiders’ receiving corps already being among the NFL’s best.

The Safe Pick: Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida

Davis has been another popular target for the Raiders in various Mock Drafts. There are a lot of good reasons. Davis was productive at Florida and he tested well at the combine. He projects as an outside or middle linebacker in the NFL, despite his limited size. Oakland would sure up their middle linebacker spot with a rangy backer. However, I’m not sold on taking a MLB this early unless you think he can change your defense. Davis will be a solid starter but I don’t know if he is a future Pro Bowler. I’d roll the dice on him in the second round, especially given his injury history.

My Pick: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt 

Early in the draft process, I was high on the Raiders selecting Davis. Cunningham’s scheme fit, speed and hands had me questioning his fit with Oakland. Then, I remember that the Raiders defense has not been good enough to establish a scheme. There scheme is flexible for the players that they select. Moreover, Jack Del Rio and Reggie McKenzie have both put empathisis on selecting impact players. Cunningham was a productive, impact player in the SEC. he has the size and frame to play a variety of positions in the front seven. Moreover, he is ready to start from Day One. This pick makes too much sense. BR’s Matt Miller also consigned this pick in his latest mock draft.

Ultimately, we will find out who the Raiders select at about 8:00 p.m. PST tonight. Who do you think they should select? I know I can’t wait to welcome the newest member of the Silver and Black.

2017 NFL Combine: Draft Prospects to Watch For Raiders

The NFL Scouting Combine is often referred to the grandest job interview, a reality TV show and the Underwear Olympics.

Either way, the 2017 Combine is underway as NFL Draft prospects prepare to test on the field this week.

For the Oakland Raiders, they are in a new position. Oakland is coming off their first playoff berth in more than a decade. Hence, they do not have too many glaring needs after a 12-4 season.

They do need to work on a defense that ranked No. 26 in yards per game, registered the least amount of sacks in the league and gave up the most points per game in the NFL. Look for them to think about adding a defensive tackle, corner, safety and inside linebacker to improve this unit. Not to mention, defensive contributors like Malcolm Smith, Perry Riley Jr. and Stacy McGee are free agents. They will need to be replaced or upgraded.

The Silver and Black could also use some help on offense. Key reserves (and sometimes starters) like Menelik Watson, Seth Roberts, Andre Holmes, Mychal Rivera and Latavius Murray are all free agents. These players could be re-signed and maintained for depth options. Either way, the Raiders must evaluate the receivers, tight end and running back positions for athe long-term value that surpasses the above-mentioned names.

Oakland has constantly preached about building a winning culture. They must do that by upgrading underachieving or mediocre players. Here are some players the Raiders should evaluate at Indy. These players make sense from a scheme, production and value perspective towards the top of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Running Back

  • Leonard Fournette
  • Dalvin Cook
  • Joe Mixon
  • D’onta Foreman
  • JeremMcNichols
  • Kareem Hunt
  • Alvin Kamara
  • Donnel Pumphrey

Receiver

  • Cooper Kupp
  • Zay Jones
  • Carlos Henderson
  • Chad Hansen
  • Juju Smith-Schuster
  • Curtis Samuel
  • Isaiah Ford
  • Noah Brown
  • Dede Westbrook
  • Amar Dorboh
  • Travin Dural

Tackles

  • Cam Robinson
  • Garrett Bolles
  • Dion Dawkins
  • Antonio Garcia
  • Roderick johnson
  • Julie’n Davenport
  • Conor McDermott
  • Jermaine Eluemunor
  • Avery Gennesy

Defensive Line

  • Jonathan Allen
  • Montravius Adams
  • Caleb Brantley
  • Malik McDowell
  • Elijah Quails
  • Chris Wormley
  • Carlos Watkins
  • Jaleel Johnson

Edges

  • Taco Charlton
  • Charles Harris
  • Derek Barnett
  • Takearist McKinley
  • Ryan Anderson
  • Carl Lawson
  • Joe Mathis
  • Tim Williams

Linebackers

  • Reuben Foster
  • HaasonReddick
  • Jarrad Davis
  • Zach Cunningham
  • Raekwon McMillan
  • Vince Biegel
  • Kendell Beckwith
  • Duke Riley
  • Alex Anzalone
  • Ben Boulware

Corners

  • Teez Tabor
  • Tre’Davious White
  • Marlon Humphrey
  • Adoree’ Jackson
  • Cordrea Tankersley
  • Fabian Moreau
  • Chidobe Awuzie
  • Jordan Lewis
  • Rasul Douglas
  • Howard Wilson
  • Kevin King
  • Cameron Sutton
  • Corn Elder
  • Marquez White
  • Ahkella Witherspoon
  • Channing Stribling

Safeties

  • Budda Baker
  • Justin Evans
  • Marcus Williams
  • Desmond King
  • Marcus Maye

Granted, these are only lists. Of course, the Raiders will monitor all 300 prospects at the 2017 NFL Combine. Nonetheless, here is a short list of high-profile names at our positions of needs. Did I forget anybody?

What players are you watching closely at the 2017 NFL Combine? Let us know via Twitter.

 

Reviewing the Oakland Raiders NFL Draft

 

The Oakland Raiders entered the draft with most of their starters set, but glaring needs for depth across the roster. How did they do with their picks? Why did they make the selections that they did?

Jack Del Rio and Reggie McKenzie shared insights onto their picks. As a bonus, I’ve also recapped my thoughts on the picks since the dust settled on the NFL Draft.

S Karl Joseph, West Virginia (No. 14 overall)
McKenzie: “You can feel his toughness. He has a very aggressive mentality. He’s versatile. He can play all over the field, and he’ll run and hit anything that moves.”

Del Rio: “We just think he’s a really good football player, and he’ll have an infectious kind of personality and demeanor about himself. So, [we’re] really excited to get our hands on him and looking forward to working with him.”

My take: Initially felt like the Raiders reached on a 5’11 strong safety coming off of a knee injury. However, the Falcons took Keanu Neal at No. 17, so the safety position was in demand. Heard nothing but good things about Jospeh’s mental processing and competitive toughness. His selection fills the biggest gap on the roster. Excited to see what he can do. 

DL Jihad Ward, Illinois (No. 44 overall)
Del Rio: “ He has played all the way out as a nine technique all the way down to into a three technique. He has been exposed to a lot of football. And, defensive line is not as complex as playing quarterback. We think we can help him grow as a player and we like what we are starting with.”

My take: Again, felt like the Raiders reached for Ward. I liked some of the other defensive tackles like Andrew Billings and Jonathan Bullard on the board at this point. However, Ward is extremely versatile. Not only did he play across the d-line at Illinois, but he played safety and receiver at the lower levels. Ward brings top-level athleticism which will push Mario Edwards Jr. and the rest of the defensive unit. Glad they took someone to improve the depth in the pass rush. 

Edge rusher Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State (No. 75 overall)
Del Rio: “He’s a very productive young man, really understands how to rush the quarterback. He’s been an All-American and he’s been a very productive guy at a good college program. ”

My take: Calhoun was a great value at this point in the draft. Even though the Raiders took Ward, they should use Calhoun as a hybrid linebacker. He should learn a lot behind Khalil Mack and Aldon Smith. I hope he can improve coverage skills as he may need to play some Sam linebacker. Either way, I like players like Calhoun who showed lots of leadership and production for winning programs in college. 

QB Connor Cook, Michigan State (No. 100 overall)
McKenzie: “ “Derek (Carr)’s our quarterback. Whoever we bring in, we’re just looking [at] can he help us? Can he add to the depth? Can he help our team? That was the only reason we went after him. Leadership issues, that was of no concern.”

My take: Again, this was a case of selecting the best player available. The Raiders traded up and got a player that could develop into some nice trade bait. Regardless, the Raiders only have Matt McGloin under contract for this season. Hence, there was a need to develop a backup quarterback. Cook brings production and a solid NFL arm to the Raiders scout team.

RB DeAndre Washington, Texas Tech (No. 143 overall)
McKenzie: “He’s the one guy that every time we watched him play, it was very difficult for the first guy to get him down. He had power, quickness and he had speed. He was the kind of the guy that can do it all. ”

My take: I liked some other running backs in this draft like Paul Perkins. However, everyone talks about Washington’s versatility. Remember the Raiders got Latavius Murray late in the draft. Maybe they struck gold again in Washington. He will push Taiwan Jones and Roy Helu for playing time early.

LB Cory James, Colorado State (No. 194 overall)
McKenzie: “He has played a lot of positions. We’ll see. For the beginning, we’ll let him play off the ball and see if he can play weakside linebacker, teach him both inside linebacker spots, and nickel. But he’s definitely going to have to try to make his money on special teams.”

My take: At this point in the draft, teams look for special teams guys who might develop into something more. James fills that role. Seems like a quality athlete with a decent motor. I trust Reggie McKenzie, Jack Del Rio and Ken Norton Jr. when it comes to linebackers. The Raiders did well with Neiron Ball and Ben Heeney, last year. 

OL Vadal Alexander, Louisiana State (No. 234 overall)
McKenzie: “(I was surprised he slipped in the draft), because big guys, they usually get taken. We felt really good about that and we like big people. He’s going to work both (guard and tackle). The versatility is what we liked about him.”

My take: The Raiders got lucky at this point. They found a big body and versatile player in the final round. He also fills the depth need on the offensive line with experience at guard and tackle. Plus, all that I’ve read says that he should have gotten drafted way earlier than this. 

*All quotes via Scott Bair.

Oakland Raiders need Robert Nkemdiche

The Raiders passed on Leonard Williams last year, because they needed targets for Derek Carr. With the offense now in place, the Raiders need Robert Nkemdiche.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Sheldon Rankins. He played across the entire Louisville defensive line. Rankins dominated the Senior Bowl and performed well at the NFL Combine.

However, he is no Robert Nkemdiche.

In fact, there are not a lot of Nkemdiches. He is a specimen that only comes around every few years. A chiseled, interior linemen that runs a 4.87 40-yard-dash. He also dominated the eventually champions, Alabama.

The biggest knock on Nkemdiche: off-field character concerns. He also has some concerns with motor and work-ethic.

I get it. General Manager Reggie McKenzie built this Raiders team with high-quality and productive players. Nkemdiche does not fit that mold thanks to a stupid incident that involved him falling out of a second-story building and then snitching on Laremy Tunsil at the combine.

Yet the Raiders built a culture that Nkemdiche will not become a distraction in. He can learn from a troubled player like Aldon Smith.

More importantly, Nkemdiche will dominate on the Raiders. He can play beside Khalil Mack as a 3 tech. or two-gapping 5 tech. The Raiders can then use Mario Edwards Jr. at his natural position at end. Or they can rotate the two.

Take a look at the defenes Jack Del Rio participated in as a coach.

Baltimore, Carolina, Jacksonville and Denver all had playmakers on the defensive line. Expect Del Rio to carry that philosophy into Oakland. The group is already good, but they will become great with Nkemdiche in the rotation with Justin Ellis, Denico Autry, Dan Williams, Mario Edwards Jr. and a few more.

Unless Myles Jack falls, the Raiders should not pass on Nkemdiche.

Some mock drafts have the Raiders going corner, linebacker, running back or tackle in the draft. The Raiders can find a starter at any of those positions with No. 14. However, they can only find a dominate player like Nkemdiche there because of his off-field concerns.

The Raiders can address those other needs at later points. They can still find value at RB, LB, CB, and S in the middle rounds. That may be true for DT as well, but none will make the impact Nkemdiche can.