Observations On An Odd Raiders Draft

The draft has finally come and gone. Rather than assign draft grades, which are mostly a waste of time, here are seven observations from the Raiders’ draft.

1. The Connor Cook trade was a head scratcher to some, but with Matt McGloin likely gone in a year, Reggie McKenzie obviously didn’t want to settle with cut-rate Carr insurance. That said, there’s a reason Cook fell in the draft. Rumor is, he wasn’t thrilled about where he landed.

2. It is odd that McKenzie traded up for a backup quarterback – rather than other positions of need. Why not trade up three spots for Reggie Ragland in the second round?

3. Many had the Raiders taking a cornerback in the first round. Instead, they drafted zero cornerbacks and appear to have little depth at the position. The Hayden pick in 2013 was a stinker, but eventually McKenzie has to get back in the saddle and draft a cornerback. Maybe next year.

4. McKenzie loves his developmental players. He’s being criticized for drafting Jihad Ward in the 2nd round, but the pick feels a lot like last year’s 2nd-round pick, Mario Edwards Jr. – which turned out to be solid. Like Edwards, Ward had an underwhelming college career, but has all the tools.

5. In his post-draft presser, McKenzie twice referenced Ben Heeney and 6th-round pick, Cory James, learning both inside linebacker positions. Asher Mathews, the estute football observer that he is, brought up a good question – are the Raiders going back to a 3-4 base defense?

6. Finally, the Raiders found a third-down running back. If DeAndre Washington can hold his own in pass protection, he could be a much-needed upgrade out of the backfield on passing downs.

7. Last but not least, Karl Joseph is going to be fun to watch. His college coach believes he was the best defensive player in college football before getting hurt. If not for the knee injury, he likely wouldn’t have fallen to the Raiders’ 14th pick.

twitter: @raidersbeat


35 thoughts on “Observations On An Odd Raiders Draft

  1. Another solid draft. There are those that may not understand the decision to trade up for Connor cook but I perfectly understand it. He’s a good player who is rated to go in the high first rounds in his value for exceeds his draft selection. The Cowboys surely would have taken him had the Raiders not traded up and now they have a player who they can groom and then potentially trade for more pics down the line or should something happen to Derek Carr have another number one quarterback taking over. The Raiders with how the roster was before the draft didn’t have many positions of need so they were in a prime position for the first time in a while to take the best player available which I believe they did beautifully. The mention of the quarterback position being a need I don’t believe after the addition of Sean Smith with the emergence of David Amerson that it is so much of a need yet as we have two starting quarterbacks with the depth being DJ Hayden, TJ Carrie, Keith McGill and so on. Remember DJ Hayden and TJ Carrie were the starters last year. Now they’re back ups. Safety was a major need for the Raiders and the solidified it with a guy who cannot only play safety but can run with receivers and is very versatile and can play corner as well. We cannot underestimate reggie McKenzie any further. The man is a genius when it comes to player selection. People question the knee injury from Karl Joseph. I know that he is fully recovered and cleared all of his medical and will be ready for training camp. The man is a legitimate football player and there could not have been a better selection for the Raiders. Not just his hard-hitting ability and play on the field but his high character. Listen to his interview and tell me this isn’t a guy you want roaming your defense. Also people question DeAndre Washington that the Raiders could have gotten a better running back. I strongly disagree because it’s not just the running back that you acquire but what he does and is capable of has to complement what you’re trying to do on offense and with already having a big bruising back like Latavius Murray they needed a smaller back who can catch in the backfield and is lethal in open space. When you have both it keeps the defense off-balance. Great pick up. He’s also a high character guy who wants nothing more than to succeed in this league. Also love the second and third pic. Can’t have enough pass rushers and the Raiders got two of the best. Their defense is going to be legitimate with an emphasis. Loved the draft. Great job Reggie.

    1. I agree with you that Washington is a perfect complimentary player. but if Murry goes down there is no way he could handle 20 carries a game. We needed a backup Bell Cow.We now have 3 QBS a ND 1 true running back.

  2. We have great depth at Corner now Sean Smith, David Amerson, Tj Carrie, Neiko Thorpe then Dj Hayden who hasnt panned out but thats our 5 th corner, safety is deep now as well Reggie Nelson, Nate Allen, Karl Joseph Larry Asante and Mays, so i disagree that our secondary has no depth

    1. Mays went back to the Bengals but we didnt need him Chris.. Fyi i couldnt agree more with your comments!!! GO RAIDERS!!! Another awesome draft in the ?!!!

    2. Taylor Mays and Larry Asante aren’t on the team anymore. Most need positions were addressed and back-up plans for players who possibly won’t be able to participate were accounted for as well (Ward for Edwards, Calhoun for Aldon). A corner would have been nice, but as Reggie said, there were no opportunities where drafting a corner wouldn’t be a reach in those dradt positions. The main thing to glean from this draft is the amount of quality depth that was acquired for both offense and defense, but special teams as well. 6 of the 7 guys can play special teams at least, and could easily develop skills to become starters. The starting lineup was pretty much set before the draft, so even if a starting caliber player were to have been selected, they most likely would not have started anyways. Picks don’t always need to have great value, if you can get the guy you want you go for him, but reggie was able to get value from some picks as well, and that should go to show how far Reggie and this team have come, we no longer have to rely on the draft for immediate contributors. We can groom them to be exactly what we want them to be, and of the 7 picks, five are athletic freaks with the other two being very good athletes as well. B draft on paper with the potential to be an A draft if developed correctly.

  3. Cook was only good because he didn’t end up going to KC and, perhaps, parlaying him into trade bait down the road. Still, not picking up any CB’s was foolish, in my opinion. The talent level is very average, as a whole, and the depth is woefully thin. Hayden is garbage, Amerson may regress back towards being a very average player (was once rated as the worst CB in the NFL), Thorpe and McGill mediocre at-best….. I don’t know…it’s not an elite secondary by any stretch. Not sure if it’s superbowl-ready….

    1. Amerson fits our system well. I think they run zone in Washington. Amerson will have a solid season he’s in a contract year. He’s a perfect fit for what we do.

      1. They run almost exclusively zone, why do you think they gave Norman so much money? System corner in Carolina and the Redskins have a similar system. Amerson will be fine, Carrie is more than capable as a 3, and Hayden on shifty receivers is fine with me. Hayden can keep up with guys, just can’t make plays on the ball.

        1. Hayden can’t keep up with anyone. He’s 5 yards away most plays that’s why opposing QB’s just throw to whoever he’s defending or supposed to be with no fear. I still have hope in his third year to turn it around only because I’ve seen it happen with Namdie but this is it. I don’t want DJ on the field if he’s just chasing people around. If his improvement is keeping up with guys and can’t make plays on the ball why have him out there? They’re still going to catch the ball on him.

          1. Yeah, but we’re talking about the 4th maybe 5th corner on the field. With the depth we have at safety I wouldn’t be surprised if Nelson or Joseph picked up the receiver. Hayden has great feet and mirrors receivers well. They have him play 5 yards off because they know he can’t make a play on the ball and would rather him just make the play and keep it from being a huge gain. If your biggest issue with the team is that we can’t cover a team’s 4th or 5th best receiver, I think we’re in pretty good shape. Worst comes to worst, we play other corners that our behind him more. Thorpe, McGill (who should actually be a safety), and even Saqwan Edwards are all caballero of guarding a team’s last receiving option. Plus, there are still cut down options to consider at the end of training camp.

          2. If Hayden ends up the 5th option on this team he will be cut. It’s no way they keep him as a 5th option with his salary even before the 5th year option.

          3. I don’t actually have an issue with the team it’s actually DJ’s play I have an issue with. He gives up 1st down after 1st down so your let him catch it philosophy is not working for him or the team. He looks like the odd man out, I have slight hope he improves in his 3rd year. They will cut him if he can’t at least win the job as the nickle DB.

  4. Dude Mays don’t play for the Raiders any longer. I’m glad you corrected your DB comment as well because Thorpe should be in the conversation. This was a draft for depth it will be hard for any pick after the 5th round to even make the practice squad with all the competition they brought in. They picked up some quality UDFD’s as well.

  5. Agreed, thought RM did a nice job of adding versatility and depth to a vastly improved roster. Since 2014, the additions made to the team have produced solid starters with few holes left to fill, so the theme of this draft really appeared to seek solid players to round out an already talented bunch. Loved the Karl Joseph, Shilique Calhoun and Vidal Alexander picks, and liked the other four selections as well. The Joseph pick gets Carrie back to playing the slot where he is best suited, Calhoun gives you a rotational pass-rushing DE/OLB option w/ Aldon Smith suspended for a good portion of the year, and Alexander will probably end up starting w/in the year or two at RG after Penn retires and the team kicks Osemele out to LT. Looking forward to seeing who they sign as UDFA and bring into camp. Good post and comments by all, Go Raiders!!!

  6. Thumbs down for this year’s draft picks. I am not happy with any of them. Of course I would’ve been thrilled with the Joseph pick minus the injury, but man that’s damaged goods. So is the 2nd round pick of Ward. Idk guys, I question the Oak war room this year. We should have had Robinson, a starter right off the bat coming from a National Championship SEC team, but instead picked a guy from an Illinois team that wasn’t even ranked the entire year. C’mon mannnn! Our solid team minus this year’s draft better keep in good condition without injury and move us forward, because I don’t see any of these picks helping us right outta the gates. Go Raider Nation!

    1. Joseph got hurt before the 5th game of the season, he’s had plenty of time to recover and will be fine for offseason stuff. I wanted Robinson at first too, but he’s almost strictly a run stopper, he doesn’t have much pass rush ability, it would have been like drafting another Dan Williams who we seem to not be able to use enough due to his lack of pass rush. Ward has both, and is still developing as a dlineman, the guy was athletic enough to be playing receiver and safety just a couple years ago, he’ll be able to hold his own. Getting a three time power conference defensive player of the year in the third round is insane value, same goes for a 4 year stater for the same power conference school at the highest value position. Washington is a perfect complement to Murray, although I’m sure we were targeting Booker and had to opt for Washington. Corey James is my only questionable pick, but another high character guy and it’s the 6th round, solid depth at this point. Vadal in the 7th may end up being the biggest steal of the draft though. Great insurance in case Jackson’s play becomes too high for us to afford, or Penn retires and Osemele has to move out to LT. Vadal is also good insurance for Howard/Watson not working out at RT (let’s not forget about how atrocious Webb was there last season). All in all, a very good draft.

  7. I wouldn’t call the Raiders depth at CB great, Especially with how often teams run nickel and dime packages with 5 or 6 DBs on the field.

    Truth is, the DBs in this year’s draft really didn’t look that great, outside of the top two or three at either corner or safety.

  8. The intensity, awareness, and attention to detail is of K Joseph is something
    D j Hayden can learn from. Hayden has all the physical tools. Hayden lacks that awareness to turn around at the right time. He lacks intensity and doe t pay attention to details. If Hayden takes this opportunity to watch and learn from Joseph, he could become a much much better player.

  9. Reggie FAILED miserably in this years draft. Everyone can saftley say he picks guys 1 to 3 rounds early. He could draft extremely valuable players and still draft Ward in the later rounds. Reggie is a fool. I loved our 1st pick just because it was a position of need and I think we got an NFL type player but after that Reggie failed horribly.

  10. It seems like reading all of these comments that you all have forgot that we have a Defensive minded head coach that knows exactly what he is doing. We drafted Karl Joseph who can play CB or Safety if need be. The Raiders Defense is set and we still have FA out there but just watch what the nation will do ARE NEXT MOVE WILL BE ARE BEST MOVE……One Luv One Nation Let’s Get It!!!

  11. I was very disappointed in this draft as a whole. First, trading up for Connor Cook is unexplicable to me. Karl Joseph should be fine, but I was hoping for Myles Jack at that pick. Drafting no cornerbacks is a concern for me because there’s no depth behind Smith, Amerson, and Carrie. Also, who knows, maybe Amerson doesn’t have as great of a year. The hole at ILB doesn’t appear to be filled in my eyes and I would have liked that to be addressed even though Del Rio and Reggie are former LBs so I’m confident they didn’t see what they liked. I’m in favor of the 2 d line picks but of course I would have just preferred one and pick up a WR or ILB or CB. Vadal in the 7th could be a nice steal. Lastly, I like Washington’s frame and receiving ability and when running the ball… wellll gravity is on his side.

    1. We took the 159th rated player (Ward) in the 2nd round when the 16th rated player (Alexander) was still there! Head scratcher to me too. Reggie is succeptible to making mistakes. For god sakes we took Hayden over Sheldon Richardson, overpaid Flynn and drafted Aaron Murray, how did those moves work out?

  12. I think Reggie did a solid job again this year. I love the Joseph pick, the kid is a beast and a ball hawk. Just watch his high light reels. He’s got receivers so scared they drop wide open passes. The kid hits like Chancellor used to up in Seattle. Plus, 5 picks in 4 games last year. That’s insane. The doctors checked him out and said he’s ok. most knee injuries are not career ending like they used to be. often times their knees are stronger after surgery than before.

    People, just because you had your list of players and Reggie didn’t draft what you wanted him to doesn’t mean he had a bad draft. I think it’s safe to say the scouts and evaluators for an NFL team have more inside knowledge of a player and how he will fit the system than any of us do. Reading a few articles doesn’t make you a draft pro. Watching college football helps, but there is no way in hell you watched every single game of every single team. Plus, it’s pretty much becoming widely accepted throughout the league that a high character, hard working player is more useful to a team as a whole than a diva who can’t work. Just look at the Seahawks. Only 1 first round pick in that secondary and it’s one of the best.

    Overall, im excited to see how the new guys find their spot on the team.

    1. It has more to do with the players he selected and where he selected them at, and what players were still on the board. Not people getting mad cuz he didn’t draft their players! I don’t care who he drafts as long as he’s not passing on better talent! Hayden over Richardson or Loutelelei as examples! Reggie’s makes mistakes and I’ll be a Raiders fan long after Reggie is gone. I care about the Raiders putting together the best roster possible! Ward is a developmental player with a 5th round grade who also happens so have knee issues! Alexander was ther for the taking ready to take the reigns as a slot CB and we passed on him for a project. Smith, Amerson, Alexander with Jospeh and Nelson in the backfield WOW that would’ve been nice but now Minnesota will reap the rewards. Ward better get his *** to work!!

  13. I loved the Karl Joseph pick, but I really think Raiders should have grabbed Mackensie Alexander in round 2. I’ll give Jihad all the chance in the world to impress me and I am rooting for him. But I was really high on Alexander, and I think the Vikings got a steal in the late Second. Lets see how the league looks in 3 to 5 years. I really don’t hope it is the missed opportunity it appears to me right now.

    1. Totally Agree Slim! How we gonna pass on Alexander who was easily a first round talent for the 159th rated player in the draft! Also we passed on Day in the 4th and he had a 3nd round grade on him. Let’s be real Reggie makes mistakes. I think this was the worst draft in the last 3 years when it could’ve been just as good had we picked up Mackenzie Alexander in the 2nd (1st round grade) and Day in the 4th (2nd round grade). We made mistakes with Flynn & Murray so I don’t expect much out of Cook. Especially when we gave a 4th & 5th to get him. It’ll take a 1st or 2nd rounder in the future trade to make that worth the pick and not many players are commanding 1st & 2nd round picks in trades anymore. Just an ok draft!

  14. I did not like this draft either. People keep stating that Joseph will come back as the same player prior to the ACL. Nobody knows how he will respond, or if he will be ready for training camp. There should have been a player that was ready to go from day 1. The second round pick is a developmental player that may need knee surgery as well??? There were other players on the board that would have helped the Raiders right away. The Raiders must feel that the roster is good enough to give these players a year to get ready to play. The 3rd, 5th, and 7th round picks were the best picks by the Raiders. We have to wait and see how it all turns out, but I was not happy at all with this draft.

  15. I think Joseph And Ward are day one starters
    Washington is a great fit in our offense really good compliment player to a lead back.
    James and Alexander are great scheme fits for what we look for in our OL and LB. I like Calhoun Great Value in the third but the problem I have with this pick is he is a backup they are going to play him at strong side linebacker witch he has never played. He won’t start ahead of Irving so he is just a situational pass-rusher? In the third round we should have got a starter. Now before I get to Cook the next two Draft classes for QB are extremely week with just one projected to go in the first round next year and only two projected to go in the first round the year after.
    and the depth for both classes is bad. Matt McGloin is not going to sign with us next year so this gives us great depth and possibly a trading chip down the line. the big knock on cook is leadership and accuracy he doesn’t have to be a leader in Oakland and he can fix his accuracy in the next couple of years only time will tell how this draft class works out too early to judge. one more thing I think the Raiders drafting a running back so late in this class a complimentary back at that don’t sleep on us getting a big-time running back nexyear. Draft class next year for running backs is loaded. four projected first-round running backs and add in the fact that Murray’s contract is up next year.
    Raider fan for life !!!!

  16. Next year has Kaaya, Watson, Mayfield, Rudolph, Falk all who could go in the first round.

  17. How can you say there was no scenario where drafting a CB wouldn’t have been a reach? Mackenzie Alexander was there for the taking in the 2nd round and we passed on him for Ward. That’s the only move in the Draft I question, we’ll also trading up for Cook when Day was still on the board. Alexander had a 1st round grade and Day had a 2nd round grade when Ward was the 159th rated player in the Draft.

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