It was only at the end of the last decade that this franchise was down in the dumps with no prospect of significantly improving itself. AL DAVIS was in his final days, with his son taking the controls of the franchise in 2011. The younger DAVIS made one bold move reminiscent of his father’s legacy. He hired REGGIE McKENZIE, of the PACKERS, to be his new GM. McKenzie initially helped the franchise emerge from Cap Hell, and has been rebuilding the team, primarily through the Draft ever since. So how did REGGIE do this year in bolstering the roster with 7 more Picks.
Round 1 KARL JOSEPH/S/WEST VIRGINIA 510/205 4.55/40 9 3/4″H/32 1/8″A
It was hard to gauge how high JOSEPH would go in this Draft after having missed most of his senior season to a knee injury. At the time of his injury he was leading the nation in INT. He was a 4-year starter in college. Clearly the Raiders (and other teams) felt his medical info was positive this spring and evaluated his value based on college game tape. He is a fine all-around player who is a serious tackler and a ball hawk. Improving their secondary is a major mission for the 2016 season. JOSEPH will need to learn how to be more disciplined in his general play, and more technically sound in his tackling technique. But he is very likely to fill a starting slot right away.
Choice # 14 GBN Rank: 58 Ourlads Rank: 109 PP Rank: 45
Round 2 JIHAD WARD/DE/ILLINOIS 6’5/296 5.12/40 9 3/8″H/33 7/8″A
Another typical Raiders pick of a player whose measurables and physical presence cry out of NFL star potential, but his actual playing career was brief and mediocre. Despite talk of playing him inside I see him as a DE in any scheme. He doesn’t have explosion or speed, but he overpowers blockers and covers a lot of ground with long legs, chasing down the ball. His wingspan is immense and makes it difficult fro QB to see or throw over or around him. I like his potential more than some, but i will admit tis might have been a round too soon even for my taste. He should play right away in their DL rotation, and his upside could be impressive.
Pick # 44 GBN Rank: 101 Ourlads Rank: 142 PP Rank: 91
Round 3 SHILIQUE CALHOUN/DE/OLB/MICHIGAN STATE 6’5/251 4.82/40 9 7/8″H/34 1/4″A
CALHOUN was a 2-time team captain with the Spartans, and the RAIDERS can still use more players with his type of leadership qualities. He’s not an explosive playmaker, but he shows up every week and does his job. Some think he will stand up as an OLB, but I am a bit skeptical of that premise. I think he is the kind of player who can make plays if he is moved around in the formation from play to play. He started out with a bang in East Lansing, then his play leveled off. But he never ceased to be a solid contributor. Everyone pretty much had him pegged as a 3rd Rounder so no big surprise with this pick.
Pick # 75 GBN Rank: 56 Ourlads Rank: 76 PP Rank: 78
Round 4 CONNOR COOK/QB/MICHIGAN STATE 6’4/217 4.78/40 9 3/4″H/33″A
I’m not sure what I think about trading up to grab a QB when your current starter is under 25 and highly regarded. It’s even more of a mystery when your back-up is under 30 and a tough, savvy leader. But COOK was highly regarded as a first rounder before the 2015 season started. To my eyes he’s a bigger KIRK COUSINS. The only two questions about him are his throwing accuracy (under 60% career) and leadership questions. But there are many who believe you are never deep enough at QB in today’s NFL. If nothing else, if CARR continues to develop COOK might fetch a Top 100 Pick in another year or two. The ghost of AL DAVIS still walks the halls on Draft days, and this move proves it. He would approve!
Pick # 100 GBN Rank: 41 Ourlads Rank: 114 PP Rank: 43
Round 5 DeANDRE WASHINGTON/RB/TEXAS TECH 5’8/204 4.49/40 9″H/33″A
Having watched about 4 TECH games last fall I must admit I became a fan of this guy. He plays fast in pads and his quickness is amazing. He can run between the tackles or get to the edge. But best of al he’s an accomplished receiver. Is explosive to and through the hole and seems to elude tacklers with excellent field vision and a sense of where defenders are. He is short, not small, and will provide a receiving threat not currently amongst their RB group. This may be a round too soon, but the fit is good.
Pick # 143 GBN Rank: 346+ NR Ourlads Rank: 210 PP Rank: 224
Round 6 CORY JAMES/LB/COLORADO STATE 6’1/229 4.80/40 10″H/32 1/8″A
JAMES will excel immediately on Special Teams and may find himself a role or two in defensive sub-packages. Once again a player whose size/speed ratio makes his transition to the pro game a bit questionable. He was at the Shrine venue back in January and acquitted himself well. He’s a hard worker who may just work himself into an NFL job. He has a chance with this team because their LB group is still in transition and development.
Pick # 194 GBN Rank: 302 Ourlads Rank: 300+ NR PP Rank: NR 300+
ROUND 7 VADAL ALEXANDER/OG/LSU 6’5/326 5.56/40 10 1/2″H/35 1/4″A
Once upon a time, not too long ago, ALEXANDER was considered by many to be a Top 100 prospect. But he really came under scrutiny after a less than athletic showing at the Combine. He is not the next La’el Collins. The recent history of mammoth college OL turning into solid pros is not encouraging. He certainly will have to move inside to OG, where his slow feet will not be exposed, to have a chance at a pro career. Given all that, this is an excellent upside pick in Round 7. ALEXANDER is taking things seriously, as evidenced by an estimated weight loss of over 30 lbs. since late last season. This pick is well worth the upside gamble.
Pick # 234 GBN Rank: 109 Ourlads Rank: 132 PP Rank: 118
Overall it looks to me like McKENZIE and his staff have put together another solid draft effort. Other than being a bit puzzled at the trade up to get COOK, this looks like a serviceable group that will make a contribution to upgrading the roster quality, with the top 3 guys likely to make an impact very quickly. The McKENZIE regime looks to be building a roster capable of competing in the AFC West, and soon.