Reggie McKenzie is still trying to pull this team out of a black hole and fighting that inward-sucking momentum/powerful is very difficult. He has a full compliment of Picks this time around, but nothing extra. The team looks to have signed a better class of VFA, so adding a solid Draft to that effort could mean major progress. They want to at least equal, if not exceed, last year’s group of Draftees.
Round 1, Pick 4 AMARI COOPER/WR/ALABAMA/6’1/211 GBN Rank: 5
It is essential that the team get better weapons for DEREK CARR/QB in order to hasten his development as their Franchise QB. COOPER is pro ready and put up huge numbers last season for the Crimson Tide. He’s not viewed as a speedster, but his 4.37 at the Combine was impressive to me. Has had a few drops, mostly over the middle, but his 124 catches in the SEC was outstanding last season. He does have good hands and is uncanny in his ability to track the ball over his head or shoulder deep downfield. He’s a smart player who reads coverages and finds the openings. THen he shows his ability to pile up yards-after-catch. If he doesn’t catch 75+ balls as a Rookie I will be surprised.
Round 2, Pick 35 JAKE FISHER/OT/OREGON/6’6/306 GBN Rank: 37
FISHER is not a finished product yet, but his natural length and athleticism will give Raiders’ coaches lots to work with. Was ranked by many as the best OT coming off Combine workouts. His 33 3/4″ arms and 10 3/8″ hands are almost prototype for an NFL OT. Also possesses excellent balance in his blocking stances. He might have to start at RT while he gains a few more pounds and a bit more functional strength, but LT should be in the cards for him in a year or two. Keeping CARR upright is a huge deal and FISHER should be a building block along that OL.
Round 3, PIck 68 JAY AJAYI/RB/BOISE STATE/6’0/221 GBN Rank: 73
The team is still looking for a productive, all-around RB to anchor that position group. AJAYI did it all at Boise during his career, with 3796 rushing yards and 50 receptions. He clearly has a nose for the end zone as demonstrated by his 55 career TD in college. He has better wiggle and surer hands than the recently departed DARREN McFADDEN. Will need to improve in his pass-pro, but he’s been a willing student throughout his career to date. He and MURRAY can share the bulk of the carries in Oakland, right away.
Round 4, Pick 102 GEROD HOLLIMAN/S/LOUISVILLE/6’0/218 GBN Rank: 102
The Raiders secondary lacks play-makers and it is hard to ignore a guy with his size and athleticism, who racked up 14 INT in 2014. INT are a fickle thing, but in today’s NFL a Defense must generate some turnovers. He’s around the ball a lot with 17 PBU in addition to his INT total. HOLLIMAN will need to work on his tackling technique, and want-to, to be an effective pro S. To some degree he’s a boom or bust player, but the ghost of AL DAVIS would appreciate the gamble on a player of his talent and skill when it comes to finding the football in the air.
Round 5, Pick 140 WES SAXTON/TE/SOUTH ALABAMA/6’3/248 GBN Rank: 148
Right now he’s primarily a “move” TE who’s biggest skill by far is catching the ball. He has good hands and can really move after the catch. To see the field on early downs he will have to work hard on his inline blocking. He has he frame to gain good weight and become an effective blocker. Could have excellent value in the red zone. Don’t be fooled by his mediocre receptions total as a senior. He was playing with a couple nagging injuries and the team turned more to the running game in 2014. The upside here is exciting and he has more potential than any other TE currently on the Raiders roster.
Round 6, Pick 178 ELLIS McCARTHY/DT/UCLA/6’5/338 GBN Rank: 189
This ‘Baby Huey’ type prospect should have stayed at UCLA, but some think he feared a move to OG had he returned for a final season. The upside here is high, but he could end up an out-of-shape bust. He has basically been a flash player in college, who must get tougher and into better shape. RAIDERS coaches will face a tough battle to improve his conditioning and coaxing greatness out of him. Another risk/reward player, who will present a challenge to new HC JACK DEL RIO. I would not be shocked if McCarthy became a Camp whipping boy for DEL RIO.
Round 7, Pick 221 SHAQ MASON/G/C/GEORGIA TECH/6’2/310 GBN Rank: 225
The product of an option running attack at Tech, he has lots to learn, especially in pass-pro. But he is strong and plays hard. He’s also fairly athletic. He is well muscled and can move for his size. He does a good job staying on his feet and driving defenders upfield. Watching game tape you see him constantly getting out to second level blocks. He got a late invite to the Senior Bowl and more than held his own there. He may never start on a regular basis, but he could be a solid back-up for any Interior OL spot on this team. He’s potentially the kind of young, athletic depth this team needs to start developing with their Saturday Draft Picks.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
This team has got to get its stuff together and soon. If very many more empty seats open up in Raymond James stadium this might be the team to move to the Left Coast in a few years. Let’s hope that JASON LICHT and his Personnel people can hold sway in this year’s Draft over ownership and LOVIE.
Round 1, Pick 1 JAMEIS WINSTON/QB/FLORIDA STATE/6’4/231 GBN Rank: 1
This should be a no brainer from all segments of the organization. WINSTON is somewhat of a local hero because of his exploits up in the Panhandle. He is also gregarious and personable. He is said to be next to genius on the white board. He has the size and arm to excel in the NFL. He’ll need to show better judgement on when not to force throws, but everything else is there thanks to the system he ran fro Jimbo Fisher as a Seminole. Bring him to town and get the rebuild underway in earnest. Also be sure to hire him a personal assistant (i.e. baby sitter) to help him steer clear of trouble off the playing field.
Round 2, Pick 34 JAKE FISHER/OT/OREGON/6’6/306 GBN Rank: 37
FISHER also makes a ton of sense for the BUCS and their inadequate OL group. This pick becomes doubly important in light of WINSTON being the new QB. See the info above in the Raiders analysis of FISHER. He can grow into a solid run blocker, with experience and coaching, but most importantly he’s the key cog in keeping your new QB healthy and confident.
Round 3, Pick 65 JAQUISKI TARTT/SS/SAMFORD/6’1/220 GBN Rank: 71
Let’s give Lovie and his defensive assistants one of the most talented small school players in the land. He showed plenty of effort and athleticism at the Senior Bowl and followed it up with a strong showing at the Combine. Very good in run support, but has the athleticism to provide coverage down the field. The team gave up on Mark Barron and now needs an upgrade. here will be a few painful lessons to be learned, but this team isn’t going to sniff the .500 mark in 2015, so at least lose more than you win with guys who have a pro future like TARTT.
Round 4, Pick 109 ZA’DARIUS SMITH/DE/KENTUCKY/6’5/275 GBN Rank: 114
IMO, this guy brings more to the table on every down than his highly ballyhooed teammate DUPREE. He plays stout and smart against the run, and has some natural pass-rush to his game. He’s a very high effort player, who looks to be in excellent shape and condition. He was just about unblockable at the Shrine venue in Florida. Is well suited for the Tampa-2 D scheme, where the DE are expected to bring the bulk of the pass rush pressure. This is a Lovie kind of guy.
Round 5, Pick 162 SEAN HICKEY/OG/SYRACUSE/6’5/309 GBN Rank: 164
HICKEY handled an OT slot in college, but his short (32 3/4″) arms are not well suited for playing outside in the NFL. He’s a good athlete overall and should have little difficulty sliding inside. He will need some improved hand usage no matter where he lines up. While he works on adjustments to his game he could serve as a decent back-up at 3-4 OL spots, enhancing his value at the pro level. But I do see him as a potential starter in a couple of years.
Round 5, Pick 168 CLAYTON GEATHERS/S/UCF/6’2/218 GBN Rank: 177
If TARTT has any trouble adjusting to the NFL game, GEATHERS might have the ability to move into a major role quickly. Gets a bit too aggressive at times in his desire to get to the ball, but has the speed to make up ground quickly. Will need to work on his tackling technique a bit, and not try for the big hit all the time. He should have immediate value on Special Teams coverage units, including Gunner potential. Good value at this Pick and should provide some quality depth to a thin roster.
Round 6, Pick 183 DRES ANDERSON/WR/UTAH/6’1/187 GBN Rank: 191
The son of former NFLer Flipper Anderson, DRRES was held back a bit as a senior because of a knee injury in mid-season. He’s not a flat out speedster, but can stretch the field. He’s a good hands catcher and is not afraid to work the middle of the field. Has another gear after the catch. Back in 2013 he led the nation in 50+-yard catches. I feel strongly he’d have been higher ranked with a healthy senior season. At the least he has strong potential to grab a No.3 receiving slot as a Rookie. This would be a high value player at this Pick.
Round 7, Pick 218 DEON SIMON/DT/NW LOUISIANA ST/6’4/321 GBN Rank: 219
This is a big man who can help add depth and quality to a DT rotation, or even handle the Nose when the formation calls for it. Is stout at the point of attack and can move a bit side-to-side on the interior. Bog hands (10″ plus) and long arms (33″) for his position. Ties up blockers and holds his gap assignments, but won’t get much pass-rush push to collapse the pocket. Once again a very solid value for this spot in the Draft.
The Draft as configured above would give the roster help on both sides of the ball. Over the long run I could see 4-5 starters coming out of this group, and everyone making the 2015 roster.