Are you sick of the words moving, stadium, Schaaf, Davis and Los Angeles? Are you sick of crazy rumors that always end up to be false? Me too. Let’s actually look intelligently into the future of the Raiders ON THE FIELD. Come on kids, who’s with me?
The Raiders ended up the season 7-9 and they will be drafting in the 14th spot in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Mock Draft Mania:
I think what bothers me about mock drafts is how mind numbingly wrong so many of them are. I was shocked at some of Pro Football Focus, Bleacher Report and FanSided’s writers mocks, and even NFL.com’s writers mock drafts. I mean did they ever watch a game in college? They don’t use common sense. People forget that a few years ago Mel Kiper Jr. got 1; thats right; one pick right in the first round. And this is from a guru that people pay ESPN to check out his insider mock drafts! Insiders are so wrong so often that as a fan, you should take mock drafts with a grain of salt. Do you actually think NFL teams are going to be honest and tell sports writers what they are going to do? Al Davis in his younger days would leak fake rumors just to mess with writers and other teams.
What changes this years draft is Hue Jackson being hired in Cleveland. Many have commented he is not a fan of Johnny Manziel so instead of Joey Bosa you could see California QB Jarod Goff going to Cleveland at #2. Let’s look at some of the talent that could come Oakland’s way next year.
A’Shawn Robinson: DT Alabama
My favorite player in the draft after Jaylon Smith got hurt. Remember; a strong DL covers up DB’s issues. Look at the 4 teams left in the playoffs. Seattle has the best defensive backfield in the NFL but when the pass rush struggles, even they are toast. Some have Robinson going in the early or middle part of the first round but wow would he be a steal. He’s the best DL on the best defense. One announcer said he looks like a fast vending machine. He is 6′ 3″ 320 and he’s quick; he’s hurdled more than a few offensive blockers in his time too. Many feel he’s just beginning to get his stride as a pass rusher. He could be effective immediately and could play all 3 downs. He’s my #1 DL in the draft even over Joey Bosa; a special talent that can’t be passed up by the Raiders if he is available which may or may not happen. How about him, Aldon Smith, Kahlil Mack & Ellis rushing the passer next year. For the first time in years I’d be happy with the Raiders DL and so would fans.
Reggie Ragland: LB Alabama
Ragland is a rugged and physical MLB who is a good tackler and a popular name for mock drafters. He is fast but doesn’t have blazing speed. He’s also a popular teammate and leader as well. The problem with Alabama LB’s is that you really don’t know if they can cover anyone in the passing game. They play zone and rely on their pass rush so their LB’s rarely play man to man coverage. If he can cover in the NFL he is going to be a good one.
Mackensie Alexander: CB Clemson
Teams either love him or hate him. Some have him going as high as 6th and some have him going in the second round. The ACC isn’t the greatest conference as is seen by their lack of bowl success every year but Alexander is the real deal in my book. I love an NFL draft writer on Bleacher Report who complained that he didn’t have an interception this year; well when you give up only 11 catches all year and no one throws your way, you are not going to have interceptions. Too many stat ho’s. He is aggressive, athletic and has great instincts in coverage which will be a breath of fresh air after watching DJ Hayden for 3 years. I’ll miss the DJ Hayden apologists though. Ok maybe not so much.
Jack Conklin: OT Michigan St.
If the Raiders want to go OT here, some are saying Taylor Decker from OSU, but I like Conklin better. Decker looks better in his uniform and is very tall (6′ 7″) but he isn’t consistent enough for me in the run game and Conklin is a Raider. Conklin plays hard every play and he’s a big physical guy with a mean streak. A bruising OL that wears defensive players down. I see him starting in a year or two if not earlier. He’s smart and physical and I love his game.
Ezekiel Elliott: RB Ohio St.
I think a few Raider fans pretty much want all pro’s at every offensive position so this is a pick for them. I think teams that draft well are fans of the best player available and even though I don’t think this pick would happen, this still is the Raiders and you never know. I think Elliott is better than Heisman winner Derrick Henry. Alabama always has near the best OL in college and they never get the credit when their RB’s do so well. With Eddie Lacy struggling last year, Alabama RB’s haven’t exactly tore up the NFL the last 10 years. Elliott is big, fast and strong and he’s a work horse. He was never asked to catch the ball much so he’ll have to learn with experience. People forget that Barry Saunders averaged a little over 2 catches a game in his career and he wasn’t in the lineup often for the Lions on passing downs.
Elliott has a little prima donna in him but he’s a physical, talented player. The Raiders could move or let go of Reece and Murray and give the starting nod to Elliott and let Roy Helu Jr. take the 3rd down role for every week and not just week 17. Again, crazier things have happened but it’s a long shot. Eli Manning isn’t the type of QB to carry a team so to me, Elliott has NY Giants at #10 written all over him, but who knows. Again, if he’s there his talent is hard to pass up.
Laquon Treadwell: WR Mississippi
Think Dez Bryant or Larry Fitzgerald. Personally I think the Raiders need an upgrade at #3 WR but defense is a much bigger need. I had high hopes for Andre Holmes but he’s not getting much playing time. Seth Roberts is ok but when others are double teamed he should be.
Treadwell has good size and good speed even though he’s not a speedster. He is a quiet guy but a total leader type who makes big plays in the biggest games. He came back from a horrific ankle injury as good as new. A playmaker in the biggest sense with great hands. He will make one team very happy and has the potential to be a #1 WR. His value is again all over the board. Some have him going #4 to the Cowboys and some have him going into the early second round. Again, the mock draft world.
Shaq Lawson: DE Clemson
Another Clemson guy Jim? Yes. He can speed or bull rush and he can stop the run. He’s a playmaker and a leader and he’s quick as a cat. If he’s still available you just can’t pass him up. His projection is also all over the place. Some have him going #7 and some have him going all the way to #26. Welcome to the guessing game which is the NFL mock draft. Talents like this can’t be passed up though. Ask Denver how fun it is having DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller as rushing bookends.
Please Don’t Pick Them Award:
Robert Nkemdiche: DL Ole Miss
He famously fell out of a hotel window while partying with his boys and fell 15 feet and needed an ambulance. They then found 7 joints in his hotel room and he was arrested. To be honest for some of the crimes college players have done or have been accused of, that’s kind of tame in my book. What worries me more than that is that I think he’s overrated. Many SEC players get way too much publicity and I think this guy is one of those.
When supposed future all world DE/LB Jadeveon Clowney was in the draft, I pointed out to everyone how poor he had played in his last 8 college games. Oh the hate. One guy called me the dumbest writer he’d ever read. I pointed out that Teams were actually running at him and his stats were not very good. I saw the same thing with Nkemdiche. In his last 6 games he averaged only 2.5 tackles a game and he had 3 sacks all season. I’m not a fan of his but some love this guy. He’s another popular player going to the Raiders in some mock drafts. I doubt he will be chosen considering how the Raiders have concentrated on character guys. I’d pass on him.
Kendall Fuller: CB Virginia Tech
I think Kendall Fuller is this years DJ Hayden. I think his stock will rise at the NFL combines and mark it down; I have a bad feeling this is going to be the Raiders pick. He’s athletic and fast. At the start of the season Fuller was considered a top CB in college. He was torched often in the Ohio St. game and looked overwhelmed and lost. He then got hurt in week three with a knee injury and missed the rest of last season. Rumors already have the Steelers liking him especially with their weak defensive backfield. I don’t like this pick. His weakness is that he has poor instincts as a DB. Virginia Tech has an aggressive defense but there is a lot of freelancing. Many times Fuller looks at the QB too much and loses track of his man. I just do not like this guy but the NFL combine 40 times have screwed the Raiders for years with many poor DB draft picks and I hope they don’t do it again. I think Fuller is no where near as good as Alexander.
Jaylon Smith: LB Notre Dame
Before his injury this was my favorite pick in college. Fast, a great tackler, good leader can play all downs; then he had that horrific injury.
The “rome wasn’t built in a day” stuff is old to many fans. Some fans say that every time a new coaching staff is hired and many Raider fans are done with it after 13 years of non winning seasons. The Raiders need to win now. Smith tore 2 ligaments and in no way will be full strength next year. Smith is all about speed so for me this is just too much of a risk. One ligament maybe; but not two. It takes a good year to fully recover from this injury and it may take 2, and who knows how healthy he will be. Patience isn’t bliss anymore in Oakland.
These are just a handful of the names that you will be hearing about. There are others that I feel would be good picks and we’ll share them at another time.