Re-Drafting the Oakland Raiders' 2013 Draft
Sometimes it's fun to go back in time and assume the role of an NFL general manager.
In this particular case, the role we'll be playing is that of Oakland Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie.
Our goal? To re-pick the entire Raiders' 2013 NFL draft.
Last year's draft was a monumental one for McKenzie.
It was the first time that he had a host of picks to utilize, including one in the first round—the team's 2012 draft was missing a Round 1 selection thanks to the Carson Palmer trade.
We all know that it's unfair to call last year's draft a disaster, as it's still very early in the process.
But taking a look back at the entire draft board and seeing how things shook out, we are able to re-pick players only using guys who were selected after each of the Raiders' picks.
From the addition of a dominant defensive tackle to avoiding Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson like the plague, it's now time to use a mulligan and reassemble the entire Raiders' 2013 draft class.
Round 1, Pick 12: DT/DE Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
Actual Pick: CB D.J. Hayden, Houston
Leading up to the 2013 draft, there was a buzz in the air that the Raiders were going to draft University of Houston cornerback D.J. Hayden.
If you're a Raiders fan, by now you know Hayden's incredible story.
Bleacher Report's Dr. Dave Siebert wrote about the freak accident Hayden encountered on the football field that nearly cost him his life:
Hayden probably never thought a football tackle—during practice, no less—would almost cost him his life, yet that is what nearly occurred last November. The fact that he survived to tell Schudel the tale is nothing short of a miracle.
Siebert would continue to say:
Caregivers recognized the severity of the situation and wasted no time in rushing Hayden to the hospital. There, doctors diagnosed a tear of the inferior vena cava (IVC), or the largest vein in the body that is responsible for bringing blood from the lower half of the body back to the heart.
Hayden's journey from nearly losing his life to becoming a top 15 pick in the 2013 draft was astonishing and compelling at the same juncture.
Despite all of the medical red flags, McKenzie drafted the young cornerback in the first round with a hope that he would step in and help fortify the Raiders' secondary.
Instead, Hayden's rookie season wasn't what fans of the Silver and Black had hoped for.
The defensive back appeared in just eight games before being put on Injured Reserve in November.
Of course, there's plenty of time left for Hayden to transition into an elite cornerback.
But if the Raiders had to do it all over again, you could make a strong case for them drafting defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson with the 12th overall pick.
Coming out of Missouri, Richardson was ranked by NFL Media draft expert Mike Mayock as the second-best defensive tackle in the 2013 class.
Though he ended up playing defensive end for the New York Jets in their 3-4 scheme, Richardson told NFL Network's Matt Smith and Bucky Brooks at the 2013 combine that other teams asked him to play the 3-technique during interviews.
Richardson was a revelation for the Jets last season.
Finishing as Pro Football Focus' (subscription required) fifth-best 3-4 defensive end in the NFL, the big man out of Mizzou wound up being named the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year for his efforts.
It's obvious that the Raiders could have used a young, dominate force on the interior of their defensive line to buckle the pocket, stop the run and make things difficult for the trio of dynamic quarterbacks who take snaps in the AFC West.
Looking back at all of the players selected in the first round, picking Richardson would have been a fantastic way for McKenzie to kick off the 2013 draft.
Round 2, Pick 42: LB Kiko Alonso, Oregon
Actual Pick: OL Menelik Watson, Florida State
Forging on in our 2013 re-draft, the Raiders' "new" second-round pick would be linebacker Kiko Alonso out of the University of Oregon.
The team's original pick of offensive tackle Menelik Watson wasn't a terrible decision for McKenzie at the time.
With the Raiders looking to add another capable body to their offensive line, the 6'5" Watson was an athletic freak of nature.
Talking about Watson's strengths leading up to the draft, WalterFootball.com's Charlie Campbell said:
As far as an athletic skill set goes, Watson is a rare talent. He is extremely fast, strong and agile for such a big blocker. Watson has quick feet with superb agility for an offensive lineman. The background in soccer and basketball seem to really help him in this regard. He is strong and can blast open running holes. Watson can push defensive linemen out of their gap at the line of scrimmage and has the explosiveness to hit blocks on the second level.
It was obvious from watching him work on film that Watson was a raw prospect.
Like Hayden, he still has a chance to be a quality addition for this team if he can channel all of that boisterous athletic ability and put it to good use.
But choosing him again in a re-draft is nearly impossible with Alonso still on the board at pick No. 42.
Coming out of Chip Kelly's program in Oregon, Alonso's scouting report was mainly positive.
Like his predecessor with the Cardinals, Karlos Dansby, Washington's blend of instincts, athleticism and physicality has quickly turned him into a Pro Bowler. The frenetic Alonso has a similar upside but must show the same level of commitment on and off the field that Dansby and Washington have undertaken to enjoy this kind of success.
The Buffalo Bills took Alonso with the 46th pick in the 2013 draft and reaped the rewards of his production.
The 23-year-old linebacker was brilliant last season, finishing third in the NFL registering a whopping 159 tackles.
On film, he's a fast, instinctive linebacker who's been blessed with a scheme-friendly skill set and a keen ability to gravitate around the football.
With so many unmistakable attributes attached to his game, drafting Alonso is a no-brainer at pick No. 42.
Round 3, Pick 66: LB Sio Moore, Connecticut
Actual Pick: LB Sio Moore, Connecticut
It's difficult to imagine that the Raiders would take another linebacker in the third round after drafting Alonso in Round 2.
But Connecticut's Sio Moore is too good of a football player not to remain intact as the team's third-round choice.
When the Raiders went out and took Moore with the 66th pick in the 2013 draft, NFL Media draft expert Mike Mayock praised the team by saying:
When I say trust the process, the process means East-West, combine, pro day. He excelled in all those. Coaches love that he'll line up on the slot, inside and cover man to man. He came from nowhere, but because of his work ethic, he's now a third-round pick. With the Raiders, this is a solid double.
Moore showed that his rise throughout the pre-draft process wasn't a fluke by having himself a superb rookie campaign.
Playing in 15 games, the former UConn linebacker accumulated 50 combined tackles, 4.5 sacks and four stuffs.
Those numbers were good enough to rank him as PFF's (subscription required) eighth-best 4-3 outside linebacker last season.
The most productive linebacker by far on Oakland's roster, Moore's progression is going to be one of the most interesting storylines to watch as the 2014 season starts to unfold.
Round 4, Pick 112: QB Landry Jones, Oklahoma
Actual Pick: QB Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
No matter how much talent was around during the fourth round of the draft, McKenzie's decision to select a quarterback was the right one.
The problem is, McKenzie and his staff misevaluated Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson and whiffed on a chance to bring in a capable signal-caller—Wilson is no longer on the Raiders roster.
In this re-draft scenario, we stick with the quarterback position.
The player that makes the most sense in Round 4 for the Raiders is former Oklahoma Sooner and current Pittsburgh Steelers field general Landry Jones.
Prototypical pocket passer with NFL size. Extremely productive. Can stretch the field with his arm and shows good zip on passes to all parts of the field when his feet are set. Quick release makes him very effective in the short to intermediate passing game. Challenging throws in every start, whether threading the ball versus cover-two or connecting on a back-shoulder pattern.
Of course, Jones is not without his faults. On tape he struggled dealing with pressure and had major issues with his accuracy at times.
Still, he's a productive guy who has all the physical tools you'd want in a quarterback.
If he were selected in lieu of Wilson, the Raiders would still have a signal-caller on their roster they could at least try to develop into a starter.
Round 6, Pick 172: DT/OL William Campbell, Michigan
Actual Pick: TE Nick Kasa, Colorado
The first offensive lineman for the Raiders comes off the board in Round 6 of the re-draft.
Just about a year after the New York Jets drafted him, former Michigan defensive tackle turned offensive guard William Campbell is still an intriguing prospect.
Discussing Gang Green's decision to take a chance on the Michigan product, ESPN.com's Rich Cimini wrote:
Interesting pick by GM John Idzik. Campbell, predominantly a defensive tackle in college, will switch to the offensive line. That's not entirely a surprise, as there was some buzz before the draft about him changing positions. He auditioned as an offensive lineman in two of his three private workouts. He played a little guard in 2010, but returned to the defensive line.
Campbell wasn't a factor during his rookie season as he tried to learn a new position.
Had the Raiders rolled the dice on Campbell, they could have either used him at defensive tackle or mimicked the Jets' decision and tried his hand at guard.
A quintessential "project pick", this guy has all of the physical attributes—he's listed at 6'5" and 318 pounds—to be effective on the offensive line.
Success at the next level will come down to his ability to understand a new position and, of course, learn the nuances of the game from all of his coaches.
Round 6, Pick 181: RB Latavius Murray, UCF
Actual Pick: RB Latavius Murray, UCF
You could make a solid argument here that McKenzie should have drafted Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington, who was taken six picks after Latavius Murray.
But in the end, the organization made a great decision nabbing the big UCF tailback at pick No. 181.
NFL Senior analyst Gil Brandt pointed out the diverse skill set Murray possesses that sets him apart from a ton of running backs playing the game today:
At 6-foot-2 and 223 pounds, Murray is a big back, yet he was able to run under 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash at his pro day. However, he does not play as fast as his 40 time. Was productive at Central Florida, rushing for more than 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2012. He's also a good receiver out of the backfield.
That kind of physical ability gives Murray a significant chance to break out of the clutter that is the Raiders' backfield in 2014 and show this regime what he's made of.
Last season would have been a prime opportunity to achieve that feat had it not been for an ankle injury that put the 23-year-old halfback on Injured Reserve last August.
Still, the future is bright for Murray.
Speaking to reporters at the 2014 NFL combine, via Paul Tenorio of the Orlando Sentinel, Raiders head coach Dennis Allen raved about the former UCF Knight.
"I think Latavius is one of those guys that we’re anxious to see be healthy and get out there and play," Allen said. "He’s a big back that’s got excellent speed and excellent size. He runs tough. Unfortunately, he had the injury this past wasn’t able to go out and compete."
With his health back in order, it's going to be fascinating to see if he can steal snaps from either Darren McFadden or Maurice Jones-Drew at some point during the upcoming season.
Round 6, Pick 184: TE Mychal Rivera, Tennessee
Actual Pick: TE Mychal Rivera, Tennessee
The Raiders' brass got it right when they drafted tight end Mychal Rivera in the sixth round of last year's draft.
At the 2013 combine, the former Tennessee tight end showed off his athletic ability running a 4.81-second 40-yard dash and posting a 31-inch vertical.
Analyzing his strengths coming out of Knoxville, the scouts over at NFL.com noted:
Good hands and flexibility to bring in passes on the run and continue over the middle or downfield. Extends his arms, and catches the ball off his frame. Has strider’s speed to threaten the seam. Runs tough and will stiff-arm oncoming defenders after the catch. Flashes athleticism to leap defenders and flexibility to avoid linebackers on crossers. Gives good effort as an in-line blocker, moves his feet, extends his strong arms, and usually gets his hands on his target’s numbers.
Rivera quickly became a part of the Raiders' passing attack, establishing himself as a quality target for quarterbacks Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin.
Finishing his rookie season with 38 receptions for 407 yards receiving and four touchdowns, Rivera should see a natural uptick in production due to the arrival of former Houston Texans QB Matt Schaub.
You could go back and make this pick as many times as you want and you'd still come up with the same answer.
In the end, the Raiders' decision to draft Rivera was one of the better personnel decisions they've made over the last two seasons.
So much so, that ESPN.com's Paul Gutierrez wrote that Rivera was "Mentioned by name as one of the Raiders’ potential foundation pieces by Allen."
Round 6, Pick 205: DT Stacy McGee, Oklahoma
Actual Pick: DT Stacy McGee, Oklahoma
Even in the re-draft, defensive tackle Stacy McGee is the guy who rounds out the throng of sixth-round draft picks the Raiders had in 2013.
McGee is a 6'3", 308-pound interior defensive lineman who has displayed good speed and plenty of strength lining up in Oakland's 4-3 scheme.
The biggest concern with McGee entering last year's draft was a series of off-the-field issues that the people over at NFL.com predicted would make the former Sooner a likely candidate to go undrafted.
However, McGee wound up in Oakland courtesy of the 205th pick and as they say, the rest is history.
ESPN.com's Paul Gutierrez praised the massive defensive tackle, saying that the 23-year-old "kept his nose clean and played hard when in games.".
McGee's versatility to play nose tackle warrants him a future on this roster heading into the upcoming season.
If he can continue to keep himself on a good path, this sixth-round pick should pay huge dividends for McKenzie and Coach Allen.
Round 7, Pick 209: LB Michael Mauti, Penn State
Actual Pick: WR Brice Butler, San Diego State
Penn State's Michael Mauti ends up being the third linebacker selected in the Raiders' re-draft.
Mauti's sundry skill set and killer football instincts would have made him one of the top inside linebackers selected during the 2013 draft had it not been for his struggles with injuries.
NFL Senior analyst Gil Brandt went into further detail about the former Penn State linebacker:
A very competitive player and outstanding leader, Mauti has a troubled injury history, including two anterior cruciate ligament injuries and a third knee issue that ended his last season prematurely. He's got great instincts, and his best position is probably middle linebacker.
As much as the Raiders need another wide receiver to try and boost their offense at this point in the draft, Mauti's upside and leadership qualities make him well worth the risk.
If he can figure out a way to stay healthy during his tenure with the Minnesota Vikings, the former Nittany Lion will provide that club with awesome depth while having an outside shot at becoming a quality starter in this league.
Had the draft fallen this way, the Raiders would have been able to totally revamp their linebacking crew by adding foundational pieces from Round 2 all the way up until Round 7.
Round 7, Pick 233: WR Da'Rick Rogers, Tennessee Tech
Actual Pick: DE David Bass, Missouri Western
McKenzie's decision to select defensive end David Bass out of Missouri Western didn't pan out as the edge-rusher was released during training camp.
Trying to figure out a more productive way to close out the 2013 draft, our re-draft focuses on the wide receiver position.
Of all the players in the 2013 draft class, Da'Rick Rogers could have very well been the most polarizing one of them all.
Rogers' collegiate career left something to be desired.
After finishing as an All-SEC wide receiver playing for the University of Tennessee in 2011, he left the program after violating the team's rules.
Searching for a place to continue his career, Rogers started playing ball at Tennessee Tech.
Despite all of that, coming into the draft he received fantastic reviews thanks to a 6'3" frame and an ability to take the top off a defense.
One of the strongest assessments came by way of Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com (h/t CBSSports.com):
Despite playing in the ultra-physical SEC, Rogers proved too strong for most teams to consider pressing. He's also versatile, showing the ability to line up outside, as well as in the slot. While it is easy to get excited about Rogers' size-speed potential, one of his greatest attributes is simply his toughness, as he absorbed several big collisions on games viewed and never dropped a pass due to a hit while at Tennessee.
Even though he has yet to establish himself as a dominant wide receiver, Rogers would have been worth the risk for a Raiders team that still needs plenty of talent to help enhance their offense.
All NFL draft information and stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference, unless noted otherwise.