Oakland Raiders Mock Draft: The Real Beginning
Wow, what an offseason for the Raiders!
Midway through free agency, a lot of Raiders fans were calling for Reggie McKenzie’s head. There were some big-name free agents out there, and Raider Nation wanted a few.
With the cuts of Michael Huff, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Dave Tollefson, Reggie freed up some much needed cap room. This trend continued with Tommy Kelly and Rolando McClain being cut, and Carson Palmer being traded to Arizona. Reggie retooled the team while making cuts at the same time and freeing it from salary cap purgatory.
From a fan’s perspective, the moves hurt. From a business perspective, the moves are sheer genius. He has set the team up with the ability to re-sign OT Jared Veldheer, C/G Stefen Wisniewski and DE/DT Lamarr Houston, while still having money left over to bring in a few top-tier free agents and sign the draft class.
I believe this year’s draft is where McKenzie and company will shine and prove why he is the man for the job.
Here we go...
1st Round: Star Lotulelei (6’4”, 320) DT Utah
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This massive young man has a physical frame that is very imposing. He could even add 10 more quality pounds without losing any athleticism, and incredible athleticism is what he has.
He has one of the quickest first steps for a man his size. He does a great job of anticipating the snap count and is very effective in either a one-gap or two-gap system. The thing that really stands out is his ability to be disruptive in both the passing and rushing game.
3rd Round: Barrett Jones (6’5”, 310) C/G Alabama
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Jones is one of the most highly regarded and well-decorated interior linemen to enter the NFL in many years.
He has had a stellar career, winning the 2012 Rimington Trophy (best center), the 2011 Outland Trophy (best interior lineman) and three national championships, amongst his many other awards. For the Raiders, it will be perfect if they once again draft an interior lineman that is capable of playing both guard and center (see Wisniewski).
He is very capable as a pass protector but is a road grinder in the running game. He plays with a nasty streak and does not stop until he hears the whistle. He is a mentally tough and a great decision-maker when setting up the blocks.
When you break down the way Jones plays, he is almost the same player as Wisniewski. This is a great fit for a team who loves linemen who can play more than one position.
4th Round: Devin Taylor (6’6”, 260) DE South Carolina
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Taylor is an interesting prospect. The Beaufort, SC native stands at 6'6'' and weighs in at 260 pounds. He has been clocked as fast as 4.68 in the 40-yard dash, so to say this guy is a physical specimen would be an understatement.
He has taken a backseat to DE Jadeveon Clowney, but Taylor has yet to realize his own special gifts. With a NFL weight-training program, he will get stronger and could be one of the steals of this draft.
The Raiders have the second-worst defense when it comes to sacking quarterbacks. Adding this monster will help change that.
6th Round: Sanders Commings (6’1”, 215) CB Georgia
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Commings possesses outstanding size for his position. He possesses the height, length and bulk of a safety with the athleticism and fluidity of a smaller NFL CB.
He does an excellent job of staying over his feet in his pedal, which allows him to flip his hips and change directions fluidly without losing ground in transition.
The Raiders need youth and depth at cornerback and safety, and Commings should be able to play a little of both as he develops. This is the kind of player who Reggie loves drafting.
6th Round – Terry Hawthorne (6’0”, 190) CB Illinois
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Hawthorne has the long, linear frame that NFL teams are always looking for. Few tall cornerbacks possess the foot quickness, agility and playing speed that Hawthorne does.
He has the ball skills to break up or intercept passes. Although his long stride hides his playing speed, he has consistently shown the speed to stay with fast receivers on deep routes.
The Raiders should double-dip and draft two young secondary guys. Reggie knows he has to shore up this area, and this is another guy who should really help the team.
6th Round Compensatory Pick: Ricky Wagner (6’6”, 310) OT Wisconsin
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Wagner is a naturally large man with the long limbs (33 1/2" arms) scouts are looking for at tackle. He flashes good initial quickness and gains good depth on his kick-slide when in pass protection.
Wagner's best attribute might be his quickness and technique as a run-blocker. Quick enough to turn and seal off defenders, he creates large rushing lanes and can be an imposing force when releasing to the second level.
With the Raiders returning to a power-blocking scheme, they need to find another road grinder. This guy is a great fit and will step in sooner than later at right tackle.
7th Round: Joseph Fauria (6’7”, 260) TE UCLA
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Fauria's value lies in his ability to catch the ball. He does not have top-tier speed to stretch the field, but he does have great flexibility and agility as a route-runner with soft hands. He is a better blocker than given credit for as well.
With Brandon Myers going to the Giants, the Raiders need to find another tight end to develop. This guy is a matchup nightmare in the red zone.
The Beginning Is Now
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Reggie and company have their work cut out for them, but I really believe he is the man for the job. He will build the base this year and continue with next year's draft.
I think Reggie wants to trade down more than anything and add a few more picks, which could very well could happen on draft day. Until then, I will stick with this final mock draft.