2018 Draft: Approaching the First Round

Let’s quickly jog everyone’s memory.

First-round selections under Reggie McKenzie have gone as follows:

2012 – no selection

2013 – 12th overall, CB D.J. Hayden

2014 – 5th overall, LB/DE Khalil Mack

2015 – 4th overall, WR Amari Cooper

2016 – 14th overall, FS/SS Karl Joseph

2017 – 24th overall, CB Gareon Conley

Leaning toward one side of the ball, which hasn’t really worked out to the team’s benefit up to this point (save for 52’s consistent impact).

Earlier this year, I took a look at Reggie McKenzie’s draft classes as a whole, and gave my personal assessment. It’s been underwhelming, if we’re being polite, but you can be your own judge:

I mention history simply because in 2018, the general manager-by-title might be playing “second fiddle” to Mark Davis’ $100 million dollar man and “new” head coach, Jon Gruden. We think we know about McKenzie’s preferences and approach, but honestly, everything can be turned on it’s head come April. Gruden’s got that kind of sway.

It was talked about upon his hire, and the thought is Chucky will be bringing in his own front office personnel – sooner or later – which could spell trouble for current suits like Reggie McKenzie. Additional, early whiff’s, resulting in another rocky season, and McKenzie could feasibly be out of work. He’ll need a 2014-like haul to “save” his job, and make the move to Vegas, I’d think.

Last year’s early-round choices didn’t see the field (to no fault of Reggie’s, but it’s a bad look nevertheless), and the Raiders’ defense (team) struggled as a result. The pressure is on, or should be, for this upcoming season.

As of this writing, we know the Raiders lost a coin-flip to the other Bay Area team, and will be selecting 10th overall.

In addition, the Jets have made the move up to 3rd overall, in a trade with the Colts. Safe to assume they’re ok with the “third best” quarterback in that spot, whomever that may be.

The Bills, one would think, are also posturing for a run at a quarterback at the top of the draft. They’ve made the jump to 12 overall, but the road to the top has gotten a little more costly with the Jets’ trade-up

Best case scenario for the Raiders definitely involves four quarterbacks going inside the top 10.

Oakland, per the folks who’s opinion I value, appears to be getting ready for another early-run at a defender with their Day 1 pick.

With the Combine obviously behind us, and teams working through pro day’s, we know who these kids are. Going defensive makes a lot of sense, of course. There should be a handful of defenders to consider at 10, and those players mainly comprise my list below. This is essentially “what I would do”, not “what I think the team will do”. These players are ranked in order, as well:

Trade-down option:

Not sexy at 10, but could make more sense further down in the round?

Connor Williams, Offensive Tackle, Texas

Once touted as a locked-in, top ten option, prior to getting banged up. The offensive tackle group doesn’t standout this year, so it would make sense to select the best one in the class early. Could slot-in at right tackle before replacing Donald Penn eventually on the left side.

Obviously, landing any of the names below in a trade-down would be considered ideal.

It’s a good player, be happy:

Players that’ll more than “satisfy”, but maybe not “wow” like other selections. These prospects fill needs, and are held in high regard. Again, this assumes that Oakland stays at 10:

Vita Vea, Interior Defensive Line, Washington

I think many prefer the Washington Husky over the Michigan Wolverine at the moment. I am not one of those people. Neither is our friend Mike over at PFF, nor is Teddy at The Athletic. Vea’s more a true nose, and his power (and overall athleticism) is very apparent versus the run. If you want an athletic space-eater, Vea’s your guy. Think Danny Shelton.

Jaire Alexander, Cornerback, Louisville

Despite his smaller stature, the Louisville cornerback is a top three player at the position for 2018 and a top 32 talent; he could star in the slot for years to come. He’s tough, and quick-twitch. Instincts could make him special. Now, from what we know at the moment, Oakland could consider another corner as early as 10 overall, but it doesn’t look like Alexander’s in play. He could be another trade-down option, but for me, I’d be content with him at 10 – he’s that good.

Tremaine Edmunds, Linebacker, Virginia Tech

He’ll be (only) 19 years old on draft day, and we know age matters. He looks like a create-a-player. Fills a need for Oakland, and provides some versatility just given his build and athleticism. You could plug him in at any position at the second-level. He’s a playmaker, but at times, you’re reminded just how raw he is.

Still, the upside is too hard to ignore (top five ceiling in the class, I think), and he’ll get drafted high accordingly.

Denzel Ward, Cornerback, Ohio State

Another Ohio State cornerback? Feels weird, right?

This year’s first-round Buckeye at the position oozes athleticism, much like last year’s two first-rounders. The only legitimate question concerning his transition to the next level are related to his weight. He has a good chance to be this year’s CB1, if he’s not already penciled in there.

Harold Landry, Edge Defender, Boston College

Another forgotten name after an ankle injury got the best of him in 2017. He looked healthy at the Combine, and the results that followed indicated the same. Looking at the player, on tape, he’s a top ten talent. Assuming team’s clear him from an injury standpoint, that’s where he should land. For the Raiders, he would immediately improve their anemic pass-rush. They can upgrade Bruce Irvin with the next Bruce Irvin.

“Home runs” selections:

Self-explanatory, I think.

Derrius Guice, Running Back, Louisiana State

The best running back in the class not named Saquon Barkley. Read why I’m so high on Guice’s prospects at the next level here.

The Raiders offense could ascend to the next level with a true, feature back. We know that Marshawn Lynch is back for at least another season, and Jon Gruden just signed Doug Martin to a one-year deal. Neither of these moves should stop Oakland from securing their running back of the future. If he’s there at the top of the second, he’s the steal of the draft.

Roquan Smith, Linebacker, Georgia

The best linebacker in the draft is easily Raiders Twitter’s biggest crush at what they’ll tell you is the most obvious position of need. My two questions still remain:

Will he even be available at 10 overall?

Will the Raiders even consider a linebacker that early?

Bradley Chubb, Edge Defender, North Carolina State

The consensus top pass-rusher in this year’s class. His rise and production during his time at college are notable. Size and speed; super-disruptive.

I tabbed edge defender as the Raiders’ biggest need back in December.

Maurice Hurst, Interior Defensive Line, Michigan

Unfortunately, Mo Hurst left the Combine after being diagnosed with a heart issue. He was cleared at Michigan when the same concerns popped up, so here’s to hoping it all works out for him at the next level, as well.

On the field, and perhaps outside of Brad Chubb, there’s not a player who affected the quarterback more than Hurst. There are concerns about his size (he’s “smaller”), but his elite get-off and quickness almost make that a non-factor for me. It’s all in the tape, and he’d be one of the best pairings for the Raiders and their new defensive coordinator.

Minkah Fitzpatrick, Defensive Back, Alabama

Is he a safety? Is he a cornerback? Can he play outside? Is he fast enough? Is he big enough?

Just give me Saban’s son by any means, and we’ll figure out the rest, I promise you.

Derwin James, Defensive Back, Florida State

Might’ve been the best football player in the country in 2015 during his freshman campaign. A torn meniscus would cost James a majority of his 2016 season and as a result, many either forgot about him in 2017, or his play just wasn’t up to the lofty standards that were set.

He’s already a better player than both Karl Joseph and Obi Melifonwu. This isn’t a knock on either one of those players and their prospects, but rather, just how good James is. He’s a do-it-all defensive back who may also have some of the best man-cover skills in the entire class. Much like Fitzpatrick, just draft him and get him on the field.

Saquon Barkley, Running Back, Pennsylvania State

The best player in the 2018 draft class, in my opinion. Special player, and borderline transcendent talent.

Drew early LaDainian Tomlinson comparisons, and his ceiling may be that high.

The best back since Adrian Peterson?

There’s been plenty of talk surrounding this year’s top running back, including some concerns about his ability between the tackles and his general toughness. We overthink top prospects annually. It happens. We know he’s an alien, evidence by the show he put on at Indianapolis. He’s an elite runner in space with some of the best hands in the class. He checks the intangibles box, as well; you want him on your roster and in your locker room.

His floor is Tampa Bay at 7 overall. If he falls further, even with San Francisco’s activity in free agency (signing Jerick McKinnon), I’d have a hard time seeing John Lynch passing on a player like Barkley.

Catch me on Twitter: @StillRyanFive


26 thoughts on “2018 Draft: Approaching the First Round

  1. I like the trade down idea if Barkley or Smith is gone. I don’t see a CB or DL in this years draft being worthy of a top 10 pick. Both positions are deep and we could use another 2nd round pick if someone is willing to trade up and include a 2nd round pick and then some. Barkley and Smith are in my eyes the only for sure things in the draft other then the Nelson kid from Notre Dame.

  2. So you never really said “who you would” pick or “who you think they would” pick.
    Obviously Barkley wont be there. In my opinion if we can trade back maybe 3-4 spots i would pick Guice. They need a RB for the future and if it wasnt for Barkley we would be saying Guice is the next AP etc.. and if there is no more future prospects as promising as Barkley or Guice in the near future, go with the Guice man! I would even be happy if we picked him at 10, but if we can acquire some capital at the same time why not.

  3. I love that I keep reading about pressure on McKenzie. He’s had more than enough time to build a great roster and he’s failed. He’s blown the top 4 rounds of every draft since 2015, with very few exceptions. Walford, Ward, Calhoun, MEJ (came in with major questions about desire and health), vanderdoes is MEJ 2.0, trading up for Connor cook, etc…

    He writes good contracts, but he shouldn’t be allowed to draft anymore. Period.

    1. Agree Mike, he has wasted pick after pick. Too many ppl praise him but for the exception of a few picks, he’s been horrible. I’m tired of us having too many holes year after year due to poor drafting. Not sure if Gruden is the answer but it can’t be worse than RM.

    2. You hit it on the head. He’s a good money man but terrible judge of talent. Also, he’s good at getting Free Agents that we’re good 2-3 years earlier. He’s always looking for that needle in the hay stack pick or free agent. It’s like he wants to say “ I told you so” to the fans and the media. Just pick up or draft the best available player. Not someone you think has potential or maybe a diamond in the rough. Hopefully, Gruden has more of a say so this year in the draft. So far the free agent signings have Gruden’s name all over it.

  4. It’s a hard thing on the defensive side of the ball. Do you get elite corners in hopes d line has time to get to the qb, or do you pressure the qb and hope the secondary can hold on for those few seconds. I believe we have an opportunity to select an impact defender this year with the qb frenzy, but with a Chubb, Hurst, Smith, or Fitzpatrick where do you put your money. After watching last years draft class (or the lack of) the best ability is still availability.

  5. Oh, and in case you hadn’t noticed:) we still haven’t signed Navarro back yet which is killing me. With him back, raiders could find success with any of those guys. Walking into the season there would not be a glaring hole as there has been in the past. Bring Navarro back and pick best player avail.

  6. With the way McKenzie tends to draft , even if any of the ” home run ” players are available , he’s going to draft some ” project ” or somebody recovering from being gored by a bull or a disembowelment or some other ailment . Since 2014 he’s stunk up the joint except for Cooper .

  7. I love the idea of bringing back Bowman for one year and drafting Smith. All of a sudden, a problem area is a solid group with the addition of Whitehead as well. Very underrated player.

  8. Failed to find help for Mack in free agency. How many years? You shoukd build around your franchise players. A dominant DL can cover up an average secondary, doesn’t work the other way. Irvin is just a guy, flashes here and there but disappears for long stretches.

    Don’t see a pocket collapsing DT or edge rusher worthy #10. Another year of double teams for Khalil Mack.

  9. During the 2016 draft when we picked Karl Joseph, I heard that he could also play nickel CB. If that’s still true we should probably take Derwin James so we can have him and Karl start and in the nickel Karl goes to nickel corner and Obi comes in at the other safety. If not than draft Roquan or trade back for Landry.

  10. Keep in mind Reggie did a lot of drafting on upside and potential but you need great teaching coaches and a system in place for guys to develop and reach that potential. Hopefully we have that in place now. I am expecting some of these past picks to start reaching that potential. As for the draft, I still believe a great d tackle can help multiple areas. Stopping the run which makes the backers better, pass rush and pocket collapsing all affected from 1 position so I feel a great defensive tackle is priority one and vita is my guy. Your thoughts please on why an edge rusher helps more. I wouldn’t be upset if we got an edge guy, the more the merrier

  11. Ward is considerably better than Guice.

    With Hurst’s health issues, even if he was that good, you can’t take him any where near #10. That said, Hurst is nowhere near that good. Don’t watch the highlights, watch the game film. He loses the football. He ends up on the ground way too much. He will bust if you expect a 1st round talent.

    & James is a poor fit on this team. Would be a bad choice. He’s a good player. Just not for this team.

  12. Reggie Mckensie needs to trade picks with the Browns and secure either No. 1 or No.4 and draft Barkley. If successful Raiders will have their franchise back and Mckensie might keep his job a little longer. Go Raiders!!!!

  13. Okay so let’s assume the draft goes (no trades)
    1. Saquon Barkley
    2. Sam Darnold
    3. Josh Rosen
    4. Baker Mayfield
    5. Josh Allen
    6. Bradley Chubb
    7. Minkah Fitzpatrick
    8. Quenton Nelson
    9. Denzel Ward
    10. Look who we have to choose from. We can get either Roquan Smith, Tremaine Edwards, or Derwin James. Great scenario imo, all contingent on the ponies taking Allen at 5. I’m almost certain the other 3 QB’s go top 5. Even if Allen doesn’t, at least one or two of the aforementioned players will still available at 10. Now assume Allen is still on the board at 10, we can trade 10 to Buffalo for 12 and 22, maybe also a 2nd rounder next year and let them take Allen, then all we’d have to worry about is Miami at 11 and we’d still likely have one of our three guys available. Miami might go Vea to replace Suh. Like our chances of getting an impact player this year!

  14. If we don’t get Roquan Smith, Bradley Chubb , or Saquon Barkley at 10, we need to trade down for Minkah Fitzpatrick, or another top cb or linebacker.
    I love Roquan Smith, and if you watched them play in the college playoffs, then you can’t help but love the way he plays. I hope we re-sign Navarro Bowman, but we need Smith to be there at 10.

    1. Chucky no way Barkley nor Chubb drop to ten, Barkley’s a generational type of prospect and Chubb is the top option at a premium position, same as Minkah. You can’t expect to trade down and draft him. A trade down option at CB might be Josh Jackson out of Iowa good size at 6’1 and he’s good at picking off the ball something we lacked mighty last year. Once you get past Edwards and Smith no LB’s worthy of a top 15 or so pick.

  15. We need a monster in the middle of our d-line, to get double teamed & take alittle pressure of Mack, thinking Da’ron Payne or Vea,
    Our linebacking corps aren’t as bad as we think, tho I would love Bowman back just don’t know that’s gonna work out with Reggie, the king of low balling good players we can use, gotta get Bowman back & a resonably good offer might do it, give him a million more with some incentive’s, it’s only gonna be for
    Another year & he wants to stay in the Bay Area because of his kids schooling & his home is here, yes/no what do you guys think??

    1. Agree we do need a big body between Mack and Irvin to alleviate pressure on them and lessen double teams, however to me 10 is too high for Vea good trade down option though, Payne might still be around when we pick again in the 2nd or we could trade up to get him a little earlier. As for our backers Bowman definitely needs to come back can’t have a repeat of the Riley Jr. scenario and I think a switch to a 4-3 will lessen the load on them Irvin is better as a pass rusher anyway and I expect Morrow to continue to improve as well, think Whitehead, Morrow, Bowman, and/or Smith is a nice group.

  16. At the Senior Bowl, the Raiders were all over edge defender Marcus Davenport of UTSA. Yes, he’s a small school guy, but NFL evaluators say he’s going in the top 15 picks according to Albert Breer. I don’t want a small school guy, but I think Reggie loves his tape and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to hear he’s the pick at 10.

  17. Compared to average bust rate through 1-7 rounds reggies actually done much better than other GM mike, rob and steve. There is layout of his success rate online ands its pretty good

  18. I tired of fans or whatever y’all call yourself bashing RM and Gruden. Stop complaining we just had a good year two season ago. would’ve went farther if it wasn’t for DC breaking bones two consecutive season and some locker room bull we would be on the right track. The team was very immature last year and also hurt. which showed heart. Gruden and company is bringing in aging veteran to help shape our team back become the old school Raider. the freaky black hole which nobody is afraid play at anymore. These soft ***, cant tackle, wannabee professional football player. Some of RM draft are head scratcher. but if they could stay heathly they would’ve been steals but raiders have history of bad draft pick. Jamarcus Russell for example McFadden list goes on.. get over yourself.. When we win a super bowl under Gruden and RM still GM. i’ll be right here in my DC Jersey Screaming” I told you so”.

    1. We’ve had 1 good season in 15 yrs bro, we have every right to be frustrated. Teams that have made long runs have set themselves up for long runs. I won’t back the criticism for this off-season moves as we haven’t even played the season to find out of those moves were the right ones or not but passed moves that didn’t pan out I will absolutely criticize. RM is known for picking projects so he can look like a genius IF they pan out. Well most of them haven’t and that’s where the criticism comes in. The people that praise him only talk about one draft and 2-3 players (Mack, DC, and Gabe Jackson). Besides that Amari cooper, who hasn’t quite grown to be the superstar he’s supposed to be but at least that pick was the right pick. So we have the right to be frustrated and have the right to celebrate if and when our team does finally bring us a SB and Lyle, I’ll bring the beers!!

      1. Agreed Rob. Lyle I somewhat agree with some of what you say but we all have opinion
        When **** ain’t going well, call it out. Cause were all going to be here just like you. Were a nation. Don’t like going into the season with holes filled by draft picks that leave us with holes . Need picks to pan out or at least have a quality replacement with all the money hes throwing around

  19. I have been really frustrated so far with free agency. I do not like the Martin and Nelson pickups. I gather that Crabtree was a team downer, but Nelson is not a replacement. The worst was not getting the Honey Badger. Can’t believe he was out there—if we’d gotten Tyrann I would forgive Martin and Nelson.
    Now we must depend upon the draft to get us defensive help (and sign Bowman, as mentioned above). Fitzpatrick will be gone. I haven’t watched Landry, but he gets a lot of praise. We probably need to draft a corner first round. If Gareon Conley lives up to hype, two good corners would make a huge difference. An edge rusher second round.

Comments are closed.