Leading up to this draft there was a lot of questions surrounding the front office and who is in charge. Well to me it was never Rocket Science. I think anybody that knows the money Jon Gruden is making ( which by now if you do not know you must be living under a rock ) would know that the final decisions go through Jon.
Lets start off with the first round. I believe the maneuvering that Reggie and Jon did to get to the 15th overall pick was good. Using one of the thirds for Wide Receiver Martavious Bryant which was a risky, but I believe well worth it move. However, this could have been a great move, had they gotten a second round pick with the third round pick that they received. The Oakland Raiders had all the leverage. We all knew that the Arizona Cardinals were moving up to get one of the two potential franchise Quarterbacks. It was either Josh Rosen or Lamar Jackson. There is no excuse for them not getting more then what they got. Mark Davis was reportedly upset about what they got in return and he says it all the time “He knows what he don’t know”. Meaning he hired Reggie and Jon just recently to make the right moves. So even somebody that does not know as much as them, could even tell you it was just a good move but it could have been a great move.
So with the 1st selection the Raiders selected Kolton Miller, Offensive Tackle out of UCLA. This pick did not get raving reviews by other media outlets, myself, anonymous reporters such as other Scouts and General Managers and Fans. Let’s be real here. First of all the Raiders wanted Mike McGlinchey, Tackle out of Norte Dame. He was listed as the best Tackle coming out of this year’s draft. The Raiders losing out on the coin toss (which proved to be the reason why they lost out on Mike), because he was drafted right before their original selection at tenth overall. Their Bay Area rival the San Francisco 49ers selected Mike with the ninth overall pick. That then forced the Raiders to go to Plan B, which is what I explained earlier about trading back and selecting Kolton. I think this pic was a head scratcher to most not only because most people felt that Kolton was a 2nd rounder and he would have been there at the next Raiders pick (which I do not believe). Also there were considerably better players that were on the board as we were selecting at 15th overall. Derwin James, Safety out of Florida State was available and Tremaine Edmunds out of Virginia Tech was also available and he plays Middle Linebacker/Outside LineBacker, which has been a obvious need for the Raiders for a long time now. I felt that if we traded back and a player like that was available they would pull the trigger regardless, with Jon making the final call. After the pick was selected, I thought long and hard throughout the rest of the draft and (listening to Jon Gruden’s Press Conference after the draft) it made more sense then I previously thought. One thing I noticed in his press conference, is that it sounded like half of the office wanted Derwin and the other half wanted Kolton. I do not think Tremaine was ever really in play the more I think about it because Paul Guenther, our new Defensive Coordinator has never lobbied or drafted Linebackers high. He always chose Linebackers with late or undrafted picks that he could develop himself (eg: Vontaze Burfict and Ray Maualuga), Vontaze being undrafted and Ray being drafted in the second round. Will that come back to bite Paul?, (maybe, maybe not), but that is what I think. So it really only came down to Derwin and Kolton. Jon mentioned in that same press conference that they all really liked Derwin, but he made a great point and said the last 2 years we have drafted Safeties high in the draft. Karl Joseph being the 14th overall pick in 2016 and Obi Melifonwu being a round two selection with the 56 pick overall in last year’s 2017 draft. He mentioned that as coaches we need to do a better job developing these players. It made plenty of sense to me. Now with Kolton, I personally have changed the way I feel about Kolton’s play and him being selected at 15th overall. For one, I do not believe he would have been there in the second round because it was being reported by different scouts and sources that the New England Patriots were very high on him and were thinking about drafting him with their first overall pick. I believe that would have been true if Kolton would have been there because they did select an O-lineman but it was Isaiah Wynn out of Georgia. Kolton also was considered the second or third O-lineman on most peoples board. So to say he would have been there in the second was no guarantee and honestly with Donald Penn turning 35 recently and coming off a foot surgery, and us not having a Right Tackle, I think this might turn out to be a smart move by the Raiders. The first tape that I saw on Kolton was him going against Stanford, and I did not like it at all. After re-watching it and other tapes on him, there are some things I do like. I feel he has the speed for faster Edge Rushers and plays the run really well. I feel that his pass blocking can get better. There are plays where he looks pretty good then there are plays where he is barely holding up. Going against the pass rushers in the AFC West it will not get any easier from here on out. He has to use his power and hands better and that’s one of my biggest issues. He is not consistent enough, he has a high ceiling and he has gotten better each year, but he has to be more consistent. If he can do that He has potential to be a stud at Left or Right Tackle because he is athletic and experienced on both sides. It is going to be up to Tom Cable (somebody that I’m not high on as an Offensive line coach) however, I feel that he had no real talent to work with in his previous stint with the Seattle Seahawks. This Offensive line that he is working with in Oakland is definitely the best he has ever worked with, so there will be no excuses. I also believe that Tom is a pretty good coach when it comes to coaching his lineman on how to play the run. He is also a great players’ coach. He can get players to believe and play hard for him. So this may turn out to be a success. We will see, this upcoming season. I give this pick a B-
With the 2nd pick the Oakland Raiders selected P.J. Hall out of Sam Houston. At that time I felt that was a reach and most “anonymous” Scouts and General Managers did to. My issue with P.J. is his size and the talent level that he faced. However the numbers that he put up during that span are very impressive. I can not blame Reggie and Jon for reaching on P.J too much. He recorded 284 tackles, 86.5 tackles for loss, 42 sacks, 9 forced fumbles, 4 interceptions and 14 blocks. P.J. has drawn comparisons to one of my favorite players coming out in the 2014 NFL draft (and now one of my favorite players in the league) and that is Defensive Tackle Aaron Donald out of Pittsburgh. These are the numbers that Aaron put up at his combine. He ran a 4.68, bench pressed 35 reps and his vertical jump was 32 Inch. P.J Halls Pro day numbers are a lot similar ( P.J did not get invited to the combine ). He ran a 4.7, his vertical jump was 38 inches, and he did 36 reps for his bench press. These are staggering numbers and I’m willing to bet that he turns out to be pretty special for the Silver and Black, barring injury. He will also be playing alongside Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin and their new Defensive Tackle whom I will mention later and that is Michigan’s own Maurice Hurst. I give this pick a B- . I love the numbers and I wish there was more tape to find on him. He did come from a small school, but a lot of players have and turned out to be special. I believe this will be no different.
The 3rd pick by the Oakland Raiders was Offensive Tackle Brandon Parker, out of North Carolina AT&T. This is probably the Raiders worse pick of the draft. Brandon will have to show me something to make me think otherwise. Although it was a need, it also was a reach. Orlando Brown should have been the selection here. If it was not for his horrendous combine numbers. He possibility would have went in the first round. It would have been less of a risk then Brandon Parker. I do not know what the Raiders see in Brandon Parker, but we will see how this turn out. I do like his explosiveness and how quick he is with his feet but he will need to get stronger and work on his pass blocking. I give this pick a C-. Hope I’m wrong
With the 2nd third round pick that The Oakland Raiders traded to get from the Los Angeles Rams. They selected Arden Key Linebacker/Edge Rusher out of LSU. This is when the Raiders found there groove again. Arden would have been a first round selection had he stayed out of trouble. Coaches also felt that he came into last season out of shape and mentally not ready. I feel he is a day one starter and was my second favorite pick out of this whole draft. It gives the Raiders needed help at the Pass Rushing position. Khalil Mack can not do everything on his own and Bruce Irvin sometimes is not consistent enough. So rather Arden is rushing as a Defensive End or Outside Linebacker (Linebacker is what they listed him as) he will start regardless. If he can stay out of trouble and have veteran players guiding him, I believe he will turn out to be a phenomenal pick for the Oakland Raiders. I give this pick a B+
With the 4th pick. The Oakland Raiders selected Nick Nelson. This was a great value pick for the Raiders. Nick Nelson was projected to go in the second round, no later then the third. I feel Nick is a player that fell simply because of his MCL injury. He can cover pretty well. He uses his size very well and for a smaller corner he is aggressive. He will need that going against these tough and bigger Wide Receivers in the NFL. I think he would be best used in the slot. The Raiders have open competition just about everywhere in the secondary. So Nick should fit right in once he is healthy enough to start, he can easily take that slot position and make it his. They say you never can have enough corners. I’m a believer in that. Especially for the Raiders right now. I give this pick a B+
With the 5th pick the Oakland Raiders selected Maurice Hurst, Defensive Tackle, Michigan. This was my favorite pick out of the whole draft. I would have liked it if they would have selected him earlier. So you can Imagine how I feel about getting him in the 5th round. That is tremendous value. A player I feel could possibly be a steal out this whole draft and probably the 2nd best pass rushing Defensive Tackle out of this whole draft. We do not need Mel Kiper, Toddy Mcshay or Mike Mayock to tell us that Maurice would have been a first round selection had it not been for his heart condition. It worries me some that he has a condition but I feel that Michigan is a good enough school and has a good record on their players. If it was as serious as those “anonymous” Scouts and General Managers make it out to be then it would have been recognized as a big deal way before the NFL combine. Reggie did mention that he will have a regular yearly check up on his heart, but as of now he is good to go, which was also confirmed by Jon Gruden and Maurice. I loved that the Raiders are taking it seriously because you never know how things can turn out or if it can get worse. I’m hoping that Maurice can live a long healthy life and live his dream as being a professional football player for as long as he wants too. I give this pick an A
With the second 5th pick ( compensatory selection ) The Oakland Raiders selected Johnny Townsand, Punter, out of Florida. I like this pick. He was considered one of the best punters coming out. You probably know by now that the Raiders surprisingly cut their Pro Bowl Punter, Marquette King. Drafting a punter with the 5th pick is not a big deal. Some feel that punters should never get drafted or should only get drafted in the 6th or 7th round. If you see a guy you want in the draft, get him. Not everything is about value because sometimes those players might not end up being available in the next round. Sometimes you have to follow your own draft board and not somebody else’s. Which is exactly what Reggie and Jon did this draft. Punters can be effective in the game as well. They can switch the momentum of the game with their punts. I’m fine with this pick. I give it a B-
With the 6th pick the Raiders selected Azeem Victor, Linebacker out of Washington. This pick to me is ok. I mentioned earlier that Paul likes to get Middle Linebackers late in the draft. This is a little too late. I feel that they could have used it on a MLB earlier in the third round, like maybe the first 3rd pick that they use on Brandon Parker. They could have maybe gotten Brandon Parker instead with this pick. Azeem has a lot of work to do if he wants to start. The Raiders recently acquired Derrick Johnson from free agency. I’m expecting him to start, but he is 35 years old and if Azeem can catch up to speed quickly, he possibly can get a starting chance because the Raiders are really thin at MLB. Azeem will have a great veteran player to learn from and can pick up a lot of knowledge watching and getting some playing time under Derrick. Some of the things he can learn from Derrick is how to get better breaking tackles from Offensive lineman, Azeem struggled mightily at that. He also sometimes looks lost in coverage which is something Derrick Johnson did very well during his time with the Kansas City Chiefs. I give this a C-
With the 7th pick the Oakland Raiders selected Marcell Ateman, Wide Reciever, Oklahoma State. I really like this pick. Marcell was considered by some a better prospect then his partner across from him (WR James Washington). Marcell has sure hands. He is a big physical specimen. He is somebody that can eventually take over for Jordy Nelson after his two year contract is up. In the mean time he will provide great depth and will push Seth Roberts for his 4th or 5th WR spot. I can see Marcell getting a lot of playing time in the near future. Its a uphill battle this year because of the starters Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson and Martavious Bryant. He can be used early on redzone plays. The only thing he really lacks is speed which is a big part of the WR position. I give this pick a B+