Oakland Raiders Draft Review
Team Needs: OT, CB, ILB
Rd 1. 14 Karl Joseph S West Virginia
Rd 2. 44 Jihad Ward DE Illinois
Rd 3. 75 Shilique Calhoun DE Michigan State
Rd 4. 100 Connor Cook QB Michigan State
Rd 5. 143 DeAndre Washington RB Texas Tech
Rd 6. 194 Corey James OLB Colorado State
Rd 7. 234 Vadal Alexander OG LSU
The Raiders has a surprising resurgence in 2015 under Derek Carr but still found themselves far back in the competitive AFC West. Coming into the draft analysts believed the team needed several upgrades throughout their defensive roster, which the team clearly agreed with. Karl Joseph was the team’s first round choice. While The Raiders did not want to enter this season with the same injury concerns at safety that plagued them last season, Joseph is an odd choice at 14. He was far from considered the best safety prospect on the board, although he might be the best fit for Oakland’s scheme. Still, 14 was to high to take him if the team had any opportunity to trade down. Jihad Ward has a ton of potential and really good size. He isn’t likely to play immediately but could become a very good defensive lineman. He’s a classic Raiders selection, big, physical, tons of potential, and taken a round or two too early. Shilique Calhoun is more likely to make an immediate impact at defensive end for the Raiders, although he is a much different player than Ward. He should do well spelling, and learning from, Bruce Irvin. Connor Cook was a nice investment for the team at 100. He might develop into a tradable talent in the future but he should certainly offer the Raiders a consistent backup after a year holding the clipboard. DeAndre Washington gives the team some more depth at running back and should find a home as a third down back. Corey James has some pass rush potential and looks set for the team’s practice squad – unless he earns a job on special teams. Vadal Alexander might have been the Raiders best pick, both in terms of value and starting ability. He played poorly at tackle in 2015 but he is a natural guard that has the potential to being a physical nasty demeanor to the middle of the Raiders offensive line. Oakland is spending a lot of money at guard and Alexander could be a cheaper option in the future.
The Raiders defense just got a lot younger. It wouldn’t be shocking to see all 4 of their defensive rookies make the team this year and start contributing as early as 2017. For a team with an explosive young offense just starting to materialize having a deep defense could equal a playoff push.
A lot is made of the possibilities of drafting a quarterback for the purposes of trading them in the future, but when does this ever really happen? New England has struck out trying to do that several times. The Redskins took Cousins for the same reason and he would up being their starter when RG3 flamed out. The more realistic scenario is that Cook develops into a good solid back up that can run the offense for short periods of time should Derek Carr get hurt. In other words, he could be developed into being an integral, and inexpensive, part of the team for the next 4 years. That’s the whole point of the draft.
The Raiders are paying guard Kelechi Osmeli more than any other Raider. His position is set in stone for the near future. Rodney Hudson, though, is a cheaper alternative who will be looking for a new contract in a season or two. Vadal Alexander is a nice hedge against that as no team wil want two guards among their highest paid players. Not even the Raiders.