As a Raiders fan I was particularly interested in what they had to do this past weekend. It's been a tough couple years and, though we won't know for another 3 years, we needed to have a solid draft this year. Most people like to just pencil in the fastest guy or the workout warrior to the Raiders and admittedly that is true more often than not. This year though it appeared the Raiders took a more disciplined approach to the draft and went after talent where they needed it and sprinkled in some speed and potential at the right times. So let's review the Raiders' draft.
This pick is brilliant. Though some question McClain's ability to cover the TE or a RB coming out of the backfield, McClain is an animal at ILB with his greatest strength being his ability to stop the run. The kid is an extremely dedicated film and gym rat who understands that you can always be better, no matter how good you are already. McClain credits Nick Saban for showing him the importance of putting in the time in the film room. Most importantly, McClain is a vocal leader, which is something this D has needed for a long time.
My thoughts on this pick: A+ (Best player available and position of need)
In the second round the Raiders helped to shore up a defensive line that has struggled mightily for a long time. Houston is a very athletic and strong DT that showed an innate ability to get after the QB this season. He has a quick first step and excellent lateral quickness along the line, but most importantly, again, his greatest strength is stopping the run. The Raiders have been one of the worst teams in the league against the run and clearly they have made it a point of emphasis early in this draft.
My thoughts on this pick: A (Position of need, but would Clausen or OT Charles Brown have been better value?)
This is in an interesting selection. In the third round you can start to consider players who perhaps are a little more developmental. You shouldn't have to count on them to be starters in year one, but due to a lack of depth at OT, Veldheer may be thrust into a starter's role early on. Veldheer comes from a small school at a lesser division so there are questions as to how he will handle the change to this level. He has incredible size and agility and has shown a dominance at the level he played on. He has loads of natural ability, but needs to develop a nasty side and improve on technique to compete at the NFL level.
My thoughts on this pick: B+ (Position of need, sleeper, but would Colt McCoy have been better value?)
The "Workout Warrior" has arrived. Campbell was dubbed a lock for the Raiders' first round pick after he wowed the world at the NFL Combine. Campbell has incredible size, strength and speed. He is also the only 315 lb man I think you could legitimately call "cut". The problem with Campbell is his lack of production on the field. He has all the talent to be an elite OT at the NFL level, but has poor technique and hasn't fully translate the "workout" to the field. Campbell is a project, but that's what 4th rounders are for. With the proper teaching Campbell has the ability to become an elite OG or OT in the NFL. With this pick time will tell the tale.
My thoughts on this pick: A (Position of need, incredible potential, but is back-to-back OTs the best strategy?)
Speed. Speed. Speed. Al Davis loves speed and he is certainly getting that in Ford. Ford was far and away the fastest player at the combine, posting an astonishing 4.28 40 time. There are questions about Ford's ability to translate that speed to the field as well as his hands, but Ford makes this team as a return man and can develop as a receiver. Ford was overshadowed at Clemson by Spiller, but is an excellent return man in his own right. His top end speed is undeniable, but he is shifty too and has a knack for making people miss. The Raiders have had trouble in this area, as evidenced by their revolving door return men last year. Ford may be a bit of a project at receiver, but he makes the return game for Oakland a legitimate threat from Day 1.
My thoughts on this pick: B+ (Position of need, one of the best available return men in draft, but would a QB or CB be better choice here?)
Cable was quoted as being surprised and thrilled to find McFadden at this point in the draft. Clearly he was high on their radar and may have been the reason they held off on a CB selection until the 5th round. McFadden is undersized, but has great fluidity in his hips and excellent speed. McFadden was timed at his Pro Day around 4.38 and had a vertical leap of 35.5 inches. He is an excellent athlete and could develop into a solid nickle corner in the NFL.
My thoughts on this pick: B (Position of need, good depth player with potential, but could DT Cam Thomas and OG Mitch Petrus have been better value?)
Goethel plays with a high motor and shows potential as a solid special teams player that could develop into good ILB depth. The sixth round is a round where you look for special teams depth and sleepers. Goethel will need to show an ability to shine on special teams to make this squad.
My thoughts on this pick: ? (Special teams guy, but would QB Tony Pike or C Ted Larsen have been worth a look here?)
Ware is another player that will have show an ability to shine on special teams. Thanks to his excellent top end speed he will likely get a long look in Oakland. Though he is undersized, he excels in man to man coverage and has good tackling ability. His 4.3 40 time at his Pro Day also couldn't have hurt in the eyes of Al Davis.
My thoughts on this pick: ? (Special teams guy, man to man coverage experience helps, but would OLB Dekoda Watson, DE George Selvie, or QB Zac Robinson been worth a look?)
Brown has experience at Safety and LB which gives him value as a player with versatility. His strength is as a run stuffer, so he will likely get a look as a situational guy for Oakland as they try to improve their run defense. He will likely need to show some skills as a special teamer to make the squad.
My thoughts on this pick: ? (Special teams guy, but should we have looked at DT Vince Oghobaase, C Jeff Byers, or OG Brandon Carter?)
Morrison was the teams leading tackler the last 5 years in a row, but too many of them took place down field after the player had been missed. Morrison has good speed and solid coverage ability, but has shown to be a liability at time against the run. Perhaps with a better D-line in front of him he could have been better, but with the addition of McClain this is a loss the team can absorb.
Campbell is definitely an interesting addition. We can't help but look at this addition as a signal of the end of Jamarcus Russell's time with the Raiders, which by itself makes this a good pick up. Campbell is not an elite NFL QB at this time in his career. Can he develop into that? Some think it is within the realm of possibility. Campbell has posted solid numbers behind a weak O-line throughout his career in Washington AND he has not had the same Offensive Coordinator for more than one season during that same time span. Now I understand that trend will continue when he arrives in Oakland, but a fresh start and some young and very talented skill players may be exactly what Campbell needs to turn into a solid QB. No matter what happens here, Campbell gives the Raiders a viable option at QB. Something that has been missing for a long time.
My thoughts on the trades: B+