Raiders Draft Preview: McKenzie era has been marked with a few successes (Carr & Mack) and some notable voids (wins) but now the Raiders finally have some pieces to draft around and will probably go into the 2016 in replenishment phase rather than looking for building blocks.
F OT Ronnie Stanley
Height: 6’05 ⅝” Weight: 315lbs 40: 5.17 Status: rJr
Reminiscent of: Jets OT D’Brickashaw Ferguson (Top 5 draft pick; 4th overall ’06)
2016 Outlook: Starting LT
Even after a couple of quality drafts, the Raiders are still a bad team with enough holes to BPA. The future is still bright as the Raiders are young at two of the three premium positions in football (QB, DE & OT).
Current LT, Donald Penn, is due for an extension but he also on the wrong side of 30. Based on recent history it is highly unlikely that McKenzie will sign Penn to a mega-extension despite playing at a high level, top 10 NFL OT. Potentially, the Raiders could franchise Penn for one season and let Stanley begin his career on at RT but Stanley is ready to go day one and Howard has been playing acceptably at RT recently. We are all aware that McKenzie is very patient with his free agent signings so it’s almost assured Howard will be the RT in 2016.
Stanley isn’t going to overpower people but he is very agile for a man his size. Stanley’s disposition has been criticized for not having a mean streak but Penn isn’t overly demonstrative either. It would be very exciting to see OL coach Mike Tice working with an athlete like Stanley.
h WR Kory Robinson
Height: 6’04 ⅝” Weight: 215lbs 40: 4.59 Status: JR
Reminiscent of: Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin (late 1st – early 2nd; 28th overall ’14)
2016 Outlook: 3rd D; Redzone WR
In 2016 the bulk of the Raiders present WR corps will be free agents: Crabtree (29yo, 6’01” 214lbs), Holmes (28yo, 6’04” 210lbs), Streater (28yo, 6’03” 200lbs) and ERFA Seth Roberts (25yo, 6’02” 195lbs). Potentially leaving only 2015 1st Rd pick Amari Cooper as the only WR under contract for 2016.
More than likely, most of the Raiders FA WRs will not be back in 2016. Hence, WR prospects will be heavily on the radar for the 2016 draft. There were unsubstantiated rumors that Carr prefers bigger WRs with a large catch radius. A big target would also complement Cooper’s skill set nicely.
Cooper isn’t small but Raider’s GM McKenzie tends to favor large WRs, acquisitions Holmes, Butler, Streater and Roberts were all at least 6’02”. Robinson is a HUGE target at 6’05” who finished the 2014 strong for the Irish but has been muted so far this season. To this point it is unsure if Robinson has an undisclosed injury, has fallen out of favor for such prized recruits such as St. Brown or if all the off-season publicity of 2014 has gone to his head. The Irish have an embarrassment of riches at WR, if the season continues like this perhaps Robinson will opt for the NFL rather than transfer.
I have given Robinson a late 1st round grade but the 2016 draft is loaded with WRs and Robinson will probably fall into the 2nd. If I’m the Raiders I franchise tag Crabtree for one season to get Robinson acclimated to the NFL. Even if Crabtree signs longterm, Robinson’s ability as a redzone threat would round out the WR corp nicely.
)0 S Karl Joseph
Height: 5’11 ⅛” Weight: 197lbs 40: 4.57 Status: SR
Reminiscent of: Colts S Bob Sanders (2nd – 3rd; 44th overall ’04)
2016 Outlook: Primary backup at both S positions
Many people will want to go CB here and reasonably so. However, if I could give another perspective, the Raiders are woefully thin at safety with only only FS Nate Allen returning under contract who’s coming off of a knee injury, Woodson who will be 40 next season will probably return on his last 1 year contract, Asante will be a FA in 2016 and rest of the revolving door at safety is made up of UDFAs and castoffs. If TJ Carrie sticks at FS then this conversation is moot and CB becomes a serious need as Carrie is also the best cover corner. My guess is that Carrie eventually returns to CB. Adding a quality safety gives the Raiders options when Woodson retires, this year or next.
Although Joseph doesn’t have ideal H/W/S for the safety position he can play either spot. Joseph has a knack for the big hit and makes tons of highlights but he needs to wrap up consistently more. Measurables will hurt Joseph’s draft stock. Currently, Joseph is projected to go 5th round but I have him as a draft riser.
î OG/OT Brandon Shell
Height: 6’05 ¼” Weight: 328lbs 40: 5.19 Status: rSR
Reminiscent of: Cowboys RT Doug Free (4th; 122nd overall ’07)
2016 Outlook: OG or Swing OT
I try to be as reasonable as possible in my mock drafts, however, here I’m going to go off the rails a little bit and draft another offensive lineman. Some won’t like the thought of drafting two offensive linemen with two of the first four picks. Offensive lineman are boring, fans like sexy picks in mock drafts because they invoke the imagination but if Shell is able to run a sub-5.2 40 at 328lbs he will be a high quality value pick in the 4th. In 2016, OTs Penn(LT), McCants(LT), Webb (G/OT) & Barnes(G/OT) will all be FAs.
The Raider’s HC JDR wants to play old school football; hard nosed defense and a run oriented offense. However, the right side of the offensive line is atrocious. OT J’Marcus Webb starts at RG and FA bust Austin Howard starts at RT. Under-performing Menelik Watson blew out his Achilles, which takes 11 months to heal, and most players with that injury rarely return to previous form. GM Reggie McKenzie has been notoriously patient with offensive lineman (Bergstrom) as teams with good roster management usually are, but in this particular case the Raiders (e.g. McKenzie) need a quick turnaround by the offensive line for job security reasons and I would not trust the likes of Bergstrom, Watson or Howard with my career in balance.
It’s early but by most accounts, Feliciano is struggling to establish himself. As noted earlier, McKenzie is rightly patient with draft picks but he has rebuilt the team enough to go BPA if Shell is available here. Due to the nature of South Carolina’s offense, Shell’s pass blocking skills are weak and despite his quickness struggles with speed rushers. Shell’s detractors often use the labels “waistbender” and “heavy-legged” but if Shell exhibits the necessary flexibility perhaps his best position might be OG. Given Shell’s labrum injury history and long arms Shell’s strength might not test well at the combine further suppressing what would be the higher graded stock of a prospect of similar measurables.
∂ WR Kolby Listenbee
Height: 6’01 ¼” Weight: 183lbs 40: 4.36 Status: rSR
Reminiscent of: Patriots WR Josh Boyce (4th; 102nd overall ’13)
2016 Outlook: 4th WR; KR
Every year it seems TCU reaffirms it’s penchant for developing speed demons at WR. Listenbee, who is a bona fide world-class sprinter, is of that mold. His stock is reflective of a developmental WR of his skill set. Listenbee doesn’t have a lot of routes in his repertoire. Currently, he is your typical speed demon field stretcher with inconsistent hands, capable of explosive plays but disappears when forced to operate underneath. Again, the Raiders WR corps will need to be replenished and Listenbee is the H/W/S value guy late that McKenzie typically likes to target. Listenbee has KR experience to relieve Taiwan Jones of those duties and reduce his exposure to injury to allow him to be more healthy for special teams and RB2.
¿ (via Cowboys) SS/OLB Miles Killebrew
Height: 6’01 ⅞” Weight: 223lbs 40: 4.49 Status: SR
Reminiscent of: Seahawks SS Kam Chancellor (late rd; 133rd overall ’10)
2016 Outlook: Big Nickel Safety
Killebrew is one of the most intriguing prospects of the 2016 draft. He plays every position in the Thunderbirds secondary but is best suited as an in the box SS in the mold of Seattle’s Kam Chancellor in Norton’s defense, which is a clone of Seattle’s. What I like the most about Killebrew is that he tackles threw his target and lowers the boom when he gets there. If Killebrew can crack a sub-4.5 40 his stock could be on the rise after the 2016 NFL Combine.
(184) (via Colts) CB Harlan Miller
Height: 6’00 ⅛” Weight: 180lbs 40: 4.52 Status: SR
Reminiscent of: Seahawks CB Tharold Simon (5th – 6th; 138th overall ’13)
2016 Outlook: Developmental CB/PR
No Raider mock drat would be complete without a small school guy or a late round CB who historically fits McKenzie H/S requirements. Miller fulfills both those requirements and he has PR experience (so we no longer have to hold our breath every time Cooper fields punts).
(197) OLB/DE Noah Spence
Height: 6’02 ¾” Weight: 255lbs 40: 4.68 Status: rJR
Reminiscent of: Bengals Vontaze Burfict (7th – UDFA; UDFA ’12)
2016 Outlook: Potential SAM LB
In my opinion, the 7th round should ALWAYS be saved for a 1st round talent that has experienced a precipitous fall in the draft for whatever reason. I loved it when the Raiders drafted WKU FS Jonathan Dowling in the last round. Ultimately it didn’t work out but the Raiders would be in a completely different position had they given , MLB Burfict, OT Tiny Richardson & OG La’el Collins chances late and took the risk that the players in question would prefer to play rather then go back in the draft the next year.
Two years ago Spence was considered a 1st round pick. Still a flawed person, there would be absolutely no risk in bringing Spence for a chance to compete. I’m betting that if the Raiders were heading into 2016 with the status quo Spence beats out Ray Ray at SAM.