Been seeing a lot of nay-saying in post Draft-land. I would like to remind all that with 7-8 Draft Picks per team, on average it is quite unrealistic to expect bad teams to turn it around based on a single Draft effort. The impact last season of ELLIOTT/PRESCOTT was unprecedented in my 50-plus years of watching pro football. Don’t expect that big of a Rookie impact even from the BROWNS this season with BARRETT-PEPPERS-NJOKU all coming aboard in one few swoop. As good as those players are, and are likely to be, their impact is likely to be less than a couple more wins in 2017. The big swing for this BROWNS franchise would likely be getting SAM DARNOLD/QB/USC into the fold next Draft.
Let’s stick with the BROWNS for a minute and try to calculate out what they were able to add to the roster thru the 2017 NFL Draft process. Clearly the 3 aforementioned players will all “start” in some manner for the majority of the season. ZANE GONZALEZ/K (R7) should win the PK job and be an upgrade. If 6th Rounder CALEB BRANTLEY/DT is cleared of legal charges he should certainly be in the 2-deep DL rotation. LARRY OGUNJOBI/DT, Round 3, should also crack that rotation. QB/KIZER & OT/JOHNSON are projects who should be inactive all season, but have long range starting potential. HOWARD WILSON/CB looks to have what it takes to catch on to the NFL game right away, at least in sub-package units. And last, but not least, it is my belief that RB/MATHEW DAYES (R7) could be a very pleasant surprise and get some significant playing time and touches as RB depth. I’d even talk to you about the URFA signings that the team has made since the official end of the Draft, but I don not see much there to be excited about. Only TAYLOR McNAMAR/TE & CHANNING STRIBLING/CB look to be of possible pro timber to me.
The RAIDERS have finally reached the stage of rebuild where significant talent additions at a couple of positions could make a big difference if they can go into the 2017-18 Play-Offs with a healthy QB/DERK CARR. And to my eyes their biggest needs going into the Draft were in their back 7 (or 8) on Defense. Assuming that First Rounder GAREON CONLEY/CB is cleared of his legal issues he could start right away in replacing D.J. HAYDEN. OBI MELIFONWU, in Round 2, could be a large talent upgrade and it would not surprise me if he does not play multiple roles for them. But CB is not one of them. Despite excellent athleticism I am skeptical of him playing on the Corner. But I could see him as a match-up defender who splits time between S and OLB. He’s a productive tackler with the athleticism to handle multiple coverage roles. It may take him a while to absorb all his potential duties, but watch out for his work in the second half of the season. I would also watch carefully for the work of ILB/MARQUEL LEE (R5) who is a solid athlete and a productive player.
It may not be this season, but perhaps in 2018 we might want to pay rapt attention to URFA TE/PHARAOH BROWN, who looked like an all-world player until a horrific knee injury put him out of action several years ago. The rehab has been long, and is still ongoing, but he’s a big target with long arms and big hands, who could make a very dangerous downfield receiving prospect in time. Also watch for WR/ISHMAEL ZAMORA, another URFA from Baylor who has a troubled off-field situation, but fits the old-time RAIDERS tradition of large, athletic receivers (6’3/224). The team did not draft a WR this year, but likes to add WR talent to their roster each year. I would also add that I like the Draft addition of RB/ELIJAH HOOD. With a guy named LYNCH now heading their RB depth chart it could give HOOD the chance to mature and develop while BeastMode does his thing prior to the Vegas relocation.