The Oakland Raiders, like every team, enter every NFL Draft with the intent to get better.
How did they do?
Check out the grades below that detail each pick in the Raiders draft. The grades take into consideration team need, scheme-fit, prospect ranking and best player available.
Round 1, Pick 14: Karl Joseph, S, WVU
On Draft day, Bruce Irvin told the squad to take Joseph. Message received, because Oakland selecting the safety despite his size and knee injury.
As far as need, Joseph checks the box as the Raiders only had two bodies at the safety position. Then you factor in his imposing pressence as a hitter, and it seems like Joseph was made to be a Raider. He also showed abilities to become a ballhawk, so this pick makes a lot of sense.
Round 2, Pick 44: Jihad Ward, DL, Illinois
This pick reminds me a lot of when the Raiders selected Mario Edwards Jr. in last year’s second round. Some analysts loved the pick and others hated it. The difference with Ward is that he may miss extended time with a knee injury.
Raw player, with good athletecism and good upside. Not a position of need and not the best player on the board at the time… Cough… Jonathan Bullard was available. Hopefully, Ward can become an integrated part of the rotation, otherwise this might become one of the worst picks in the McKenzie era.
Round 3, Pick 75: Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan St
Calhoun is a super interesting pick. Good abilities as a pass rusher. Good competitior who became the leader of a Michigan St. defense that won a lot of games.
This was a case of selecting the best player available. Calhoun is a great depth option, but can he become better than just a second string? Assuming he backs up Khalil Mack, Bruce Irvin and eventually Aldon Smith, Calhoun can learn a lot but maybe not play a lot.
Round 4, Pick 100: Connor Cook, QB, Michigan St
Again, the Raiders selected the best player available. At one point, Cook was expected to be the top quarterback in the draft. He has a solid arm, but character concerns knocked him down.
With Matt McGloin becoming a free agent again next year, Cook gives the Raiders a backup insurance plan. Cook can take his time developing behind Derek Carr. Maybe Cook develops into a nice trade piece down the line.
Round 5, Pick 143: DeAndre Washington, RB, Texas Tec
Anything the Raiders get out of these picks are bonuses, as late round picks usually struggle to make the roster. Hence, Washington seems like a small change-of-pace back worth a gamble.
However, the Raiders passed on the bigger Paul Perkins. Perkins shifty style and bigger body would have complimented Latavius Murray perfect. Nonetheless, Washington went right were many predicted.
Round 6, Pick 194: Cory James, LB, Colorado St
Cory James fits what the Raiders look for in a linebacker. A tough, smart player with experience at multiple positions. James should challenge for a role on special teams. He could challenge Neiron Ball for some reps too.
Round 7, Pick 234: Vadal Alexander, G, LSU
Alexander was a steal this late in the draft. He fell this far probably because the guard position is undervalued, and probably because of poor times in athletic tests.
Regardless, Alexander brings high-level experience at guard and tackle. He is the big-body this Raiders regime likes at guard. Alexander should challenge for a backup role, and he could develop into a hidden gem later.
In closing, the Oakland Raiders walked away from the NFL Draft with some solid depth pieces. They filled most of their biggest needs, and found players to challenge for rotational time.
Overall, the Raiders get a B in this draft.
This is the type of draft class that will become boom or bust. It could trend upwards into the A range, if the Raiders develop these prospects. However, it might stumble down because these players may not find immediate roles.