Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie is alternating good and bad picks during the 2015 draft. After a solid third-round choice, Raiders brass made a far reach for Jon Feliciano in the fourth round.
What’s troubling is the Raiders initially held the No. 102 overall pick but opted to trade back twice, finally landing in the 124th spot. Essentially, McKenzie passed on Tre’ Jackson (New England Patriots, 111th overall pick), Arie Kouandjio (Washington Redskins, 112th overall pick) and Jamil Douglas (Miami Dolphins, 114th overall pick), and Josue Matias (Florida State) was still available.
Feliciano might have impressed the Raiders front office, but he would have been available in the sixth or seventh round. Both CBSSports.com and NFL.com projected Feliciano as a seventh-round pick or an undrafted free agent, but the Raiders picked him up in the fourth round.
Another head-scratcher from Raiders headquarters. Feliciano doesn’t even project to be a solid NFL starter because he lacks consistency and may struggle with more athletic defensive tackles.
Here’s NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein’s input on his weaknesses:
Pear-shaped with short arms. Will lunge after second level targets rather than stalk them. Doesn't play with strong hands and hand placement can be a mess at times. Hands will slide off strike point rather than latch on. Ducks head and loses sight of target on cut blocks. Confined to phone-booth movement.
On a brighter note, Feliciano can handle DTs who simply use brute force up the middle in an attempt to pressure the quarterback.
CBSSports.com’s Ryan Booher delves into the positives in Feliciano’s game:
Feliciano is at his best moving people in the run game. His ability to steer his man once he is latched on is impressive, his strength shows up in this regard. He does a good job playing with balance, never getting himself overextended or lunging after his target. Overall he was pretty consistent with his ability to sustain blocks, and at times showed some willingness to play to the whistle, and at times through it as well.
His strength also shows up in his ability to anchor down vs the bull rush. I thought he showed this not only in my viewings of the player, but also in person during the Shrine practices. He has a pretty savvy understanding of when to anchor down, he does a really good job of getting his body in position to be able to immediately thwart the bulrush of the opposition.
Feliciano could hold on to to a roster spot, but he needs work before he can overtake the starting position from veteran Khalif Barnes. The Raiders' goal should have been finding a guard ready to start over Barnes in Week 1, but this selection doesn’t achieve that. The Miami guard must take time to polish his hand techniques and extend his ability to block beyond the line of scrimmage.
Passing on other guards based on preference is one thing, but selecting a player who could have been available late in the draft is a bigger mistake, especially at a position of need.
Whether or not McKenzie is a draft-day genius, it doesn’t negate the fact that the pick could have been made two rounds later.