Raiders' Draft Stock Watch: 6 Players Rising and Falling on Oakland's Board
With pro days in full swing, the Oakland Raiders have plenty of new information to begin refining their big board as the draft draws nearer.
The Raiders have the fourth overall pick, and they can't afford to miss with this selection. But for a team with as many needs as Oakland has, every pick is going to be equally important. The scouting process between now and the draft is going to be crucial.
This time is just as important for the players as they get their final opportunities to separate themselves from the rest of pack at their respective positions. While some have reaffirmed their draft stocks, others have raised more questions than answers.
Here's a look at some players on Oakland's big board and the direction their draft stocks are moving as we get closer to the draft.
Down: Jacoby Glenn (Cornerback)
The Raiders are already young at cornerback. However, the unit is still thin, so it makes sense for the team to address the issue by adding some quality depth later in the draft. Central Florida's Jacoby Glenn was considered a solid mid-round option. But a disappointing pro day could see him drop in the draft.
There were already concerns about Glenn's speed after he ran a 4.64-second 40-yard dash at the combine. Those concerns were verified when he ran the 40 in an underwhelming 4.55 seconds at his pro day. This, in addition to his lack of quickness and size, raises some serious concerns about his ability to keep up with the physicality and speed of NFL receivers.
Oakland needs bodies at cornerback, and Glenn could still be considered in the later rounds. But he had the potential to go as high as the fourth round. After his performances at the combine and at his pro day, that's looking unlikely.
Up: Arie Kouandjio (Guard)
South Carolina's A.J. Cann and Duke's Laken Tomlinson are considered the top prospects at guard, but Alabama's Arie Kouandjio has quietly continued to perform impressively leading up to the draft. As Charlie Campbell of WalterFootball.com notes, scouts have been impressed:
They feel Kouandjio has the strength and athleticism to start quickly in the NFL while being able to fit in any kind of blocking scheme. He had an underrated senior year as a run-blocker and improved his pass protection.
While Kouandjio still needs some work, it's not much. The Raiders do have a temporary solution at right guard in Khalif Barnes, so Kouandjio wouldn't have to start right away. He could take the preseason and the early part of the regular season to grow into the role—then take over as the starter later in the year.
The Raiders have a solid offensive line, but there's still a glaring need at right guard. While it might not address this issue early, the team is sure to try to fill this need by the middle rounds. Kouandjio could be available in the third round.
Finding such a solid guard at this point in the draft would be a major get for Oakland.
Down: Randy Gregory (Defensive End/Outside Linebacker)
This is an easy one.
Not only will Randy Gregory have dropped on Oakland's big board following his failed drug test at the combine, but he's also likely dropped in the entire draft. On talent alone, he's arguably a top-10 pick. But the failed drug test is going to have a major impact on his overall stock.
There's always the chance that a team will believe that this was an isolated incident. It's also possible that a team will believe that it can fix any problem Gregory does have.
However, the history of Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon is fresh in the league's mind. Gordon was suspended while in college for marijuana use. Since entering the NFL in 2012, he's been suspended several times for various violations of the league's substance-abuse rules.
While Gregory's history is nowhere near as bad, it's an easy correlation for teams to make. Teams will understandably stay away from taking a player with character concerns. The only question now is just how far he'll tumble by the time the draft rolls around.
This is a particularly big issue as far as the Raiders are concerned. Given the strong moral stance that the organization has taken across the board, Gregory didn't just take a huge plunge on the team's draft board.
It's possible that he could drop completely off it.
Up: Jaelen Strong (Wide Receiver)
It's likely that the Raiders select a wide receiver with the fourth overall pick. However, it's also possible that the team instead decides to select a pass-rusher. If that's that case, Oakland is certain to select a wide receiver in the second round.
If the team chooses to go this route, Arizona State's Jaelen Strong could prove to be a steal.
He has prototypical size (6'2", 217 pounds), but there were some questions about his speed. He answered those questions with a strong 40 time at the combine (4.44 seconds). He then showed off his pass-catching ability at his pro day—where, as NFL.com's Gil Brandt put it, he "did an exceptional job in the workout, catching everything thrown his way."
Strong is a first-round talent, but it won't be a surprise to see him drop to the second round in a deep wide receiver class. As of now, he's considered a fringe first-rounder and a more likely second-round pick. If he does drop, he'll be a hot commodity on the draft's second day.
Given his strong performances at the combine and at his pro day, Strong may have earned his way into the bottom of the first round. A more likely scenario is that he's a high second-round pick. If he's still there when the Raiders select third in the second round, he'll definitely be high on Oakland's priority list.
Down: Shane Ray (Defensive End)
Most mock drafts have the Raiders going after a wide receiver with the fourth overall pick, given how weak Oakland's current group of wide receivers is. But the team's need for a defensive end is arguably as big, if not bigger, which is why an edge-rusher at that spot is possible.
Shane Ray headed into the predraft process as one of the top defensive end prospects, but his stock has been steadily dropping. He was unable to participate in any drills at the combine due to a toe injury. His pro day was his opportunity to make up for that. Instead, he only did more damage to his draft-day prospects.
The NFL Network's Mike Mayock had this to say about Ray's performance:
His numbers today were not great. As a matter of fact, if you stack his numbers up against the other top four guys in my top-five edge-rush group, you'd see that all of his numbers, starting with a 4.68 40, his cone drills, his jumps, were not as good as the other four guys.
At one point, Ray had the potential to be the first defensive end selected in the draft. This made it a possibility—even if it was a small one—that Ray could go to the Raiders in the top five. Now, Ray is looking at a big drop down to the middle, or even end, of the first round.
Up: Amari Cooper (Wide Receiver)
As of now, the consensus is that the Raiders will select a wide receiver with the fourth overall pick, and West Virginia's Kevin White seemed to be the favorite. But as Charlie Campbell of WalterFootball.com points out, Cooper continues to make a strong case that he's the top prospect at the position:
The draft media seems to have West Virginia's Kevin White as the consensus top receiver in the 2015 NFL Draft, but that isn't a consensus with NFL teams. In speaking with sources, plenty of teams have Cooper as the top wideout in the 2015 NFL Draft. With his quickness, route-running and big-play ability, Cooper could easily be the first receiver selected in the 2015 NFL Draft. At his pro day, teams came away with more positive feelings towards Cooper. It wouldn't surprise any teams around the league if Cooper was the first receiver taken.
Admittedly, I previously had White ranked ahead of Cooper. But with each subsequent workout, Cooper looks more and more impressive. After a good all-around performance at the combine, he looked like the draft's top wide receiver at his pro day.
Cooper's crisp route running, quickness and good hands are undeniable. White has the better leaping ability, slightly better straight-line speed and a two-inch height advantage. But overall, it's becoming clear that Cooper is an elite wide receiver who will be ready on Day 1.
As of now, the most likely possibility remains that the Raiders select a wide receiver with their first pick. And now, more than ever, Cooper looks like he's clearly the best option.
Unless otherwise noted, all stats taken from ESPN.com.
Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section and on Twitter @BrianJ_Flores.