Front office transactions
OT Donald Penn 32yo unsigned
FS Charles Woodson 39yo retired
DE Justin Tuck 32yo retired
WR Rod Streater 27yo unsigned
WR Andre Holmes 27yo unsigned
C Tony Bergstrom 29yo unsigned
FS Taylor Mays 27yo unsigned
WR Jermey Ross 27yo unsigned
LS Thomas Gafford 32 unsigned
FAST Free Agency
Last season the headliner in free agency was on the offensive side of the ball, this season it’s the defenses’ turn to receive such attention.
DE Mario Williams – The most pivotal signing of the off-season. This traditional 9-tech 43 DE would be the perfect complimentary piece to Khalil Mack’s game. The Raiders would instantly have the best defensive line in the NFL. Either player can effectively rush from either side of the ball with either his hand in the dirt or standing. Don’t put to much stock into who’s rushing from what side.
SS George Iloka – Style and stature very reminiscent of SEA SS Kam Chancellor.
Quick NFL Mock Draft
(1) OSU DE Joey Bosa – Current Titans LT Lewan was a top 15 LT in 2015 and a very young player. The Titans already have their cornerstone OT. This one is easy, the Titans draft best player in the draft who is also the most marketable and probably has the highest floor. It’s a no-brainer.
(2) Cal QB Jared Goff – HueJax has already made it clear that he wants to move on from Manziel and he’s a guru at putting offensive players in the best position to win.
(3) Ole’ Miss OT Laremy Tunsil – Chargers get the LT they so desperately need. When you have Mack, Houston & Von Miller in your division you take a franchise LT when one becomes available.
(4) FSU CB Jalen Ramsey – Barring a trade back the Cowboys shore up their porous secondary. JJ Wilcox was one of least efficient safeties in the NFL in 2015.
(5)Clemson DE Shaq Lawson – Provided his knee checks out the Jags select the best edge rusher available to pair with Dante Fowler.
(6) Alabama DT A’Shawn Robinson – GM Ozzie Newsome LOVES his BAMA Boys and Robinson is going to be a good one.
(7) Oregon DE DeForest Buckner – Buckner, Armstead and Chip are all reunited in SF.
(8) Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves III – CB is a position of need and Miami loves prospects from Florida. Hargreaves had a down season but he’ll likely shine at the combine.
(9) Ole’ Miss WR LaQuon Treadwell -WR Vincent Jackson is getting up there and Treadwell is an excellent compliment to WR Mike Evans.
(10) Oklahoma DE Emmanuel Ogbah – The Giants always love to hoard edge rushers.
(11)Notre Dame OT Ronnie Stanley – Now that Cutler is playing better the Bears need to protect him.
(12)Memphis QB Paxton Lynch – Lynch needs to be developed. He’ll learn behind Brees for a few years.
(13)UCLA LB Myles Jack – Eagles go BPA.
Oakland Raiders Mock Draft
(14) OT Taylor Decker l Height: 6’07 ½” l Weight: 315lbs l 40: 5.21 l Yr: SR
Reminiscent of: Colts LT Anthony Castonzo (1st rd; 22nd overall ’11)
2016 Outlook: Starting LT
After a couple of quality drafts, the Raiders are a promising team and flirting with the playoffs after a 13 year hiatus. The future is still bright as the Raiders are young at two of the three premium positions in football (QB, DE & OT). Conventional thinking suggests that good teams resign their own free agents but their needs to be a qualification. “GOOD teams resign their own YOUNG free agents”. The only present danger for the Raiders now is complacency. Remaining stagnant is how rosters rot from the interior. However, letting known quantities walk is not without angst. Regardless, good teams do not resign older players to big money, long-term contracts. Quality veteran players looking for their last payday don’t sign short-term contracts (as it lowers the amount the can receive in bonus money). Something has to give. Contrary to general belief, the front office is paying for FUTURE performance and not a reward for past performance. The front office has spend to the salary cap floor and it will do so, but prudently to secure sustainable future success.
Decker vs NFL free agency: Current LT, Donald Penn, is due for an extension but he also on the wrong side of 30. It’s hard to say goodbye to a guy who grew up a Raider fan but, previous to coming to the Raiders, Penn was considered to be spent and found the FA market lean. In my opinion, much of Penn’s play has been propped up by Carr who gets rid of the ball quickly, converse to other QBs of similar youth (many of which were more highly touted), who tend to hold on the ball and are taking sacks and suffering physical attrition as a result.
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 over the last 2 years (If contracts were a reward for past performance then that’s what the Raiders would be paying for . . . not going to happen). 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. In addition, Howard began to show a lot of potential on the backside of the schedule before he was injured.
Some will suggest that the Raiders address LT in FA if they don’t resign Penn but as always the FA market be lean and expensive. Franchise OTs rarely become available on the open market so I wouldn’t depend on one in FA. The Bills won’t let a young Cordy Glenn walk and Okung has been injury prone.
Decker vs. the draft: In my opinion, Taylor Decker is one of the more underestimated prospects in the 2016 NFL draft. Currently, Decker is not considered in the same class as Stanley and Tunsil but that’s to the Raiders benefit. Decker has the best combination of length, size and speed of all the top OTs, and Decker is considered the most balanced OT being equally proficient at both run and pass blocking.
Athleticism. Decker has underrated athleticism, he is a former high school basketball player who was offered basketball scholarship offers from mid-major colleges. I suspect Decker will run the 40 under 5.3 but if he should crack 5.2 he probably won’t even be around at #14.
Character. As a devote Christian, Decker’s character is impeccable. As many of you know, McKenzie and Mark Davis value character and adversity highly. In addition, franchise QB Derek Carr is also a devote Christian. These two were made for each other.
Toughness. Nothing has been given to Decker, he took his high school football team to it’s first post season ever with a record of 6-4. Decker’s family has a military background and has hard scrabble roots which will also play in his favor.
Work ethic. Decker has a ridiculous work ethic as he was annually recognized as a leader in the weight room. It shows as Decker has a more chiseled frame than either Tunsil or Stanley.
Persona. Decker looks like an extra on “Sons of Anarchy” cast as muscle and his generous use of eye black looks like he’s going to a KISS concert. One thing I promise is that Decker will look like a Raider on game day and will quickly become a fan favorite.
In summary, Pre-combine I’d endorse Decker at #14 as an underrated prospect whose sum is greater than his parts (measureables) over most anticipated prospects available at this position in the draft.
(44) OG Vadal Alexander l Height: 6’05 ⅛” l Weight: 329lbs l 40: 5.39 l Yr: SR
Reminiscent of: Ravens OG Kelechi Osemele (2nd Rd; 60th overall ’12)
2016 Outlook: Starting RG
Mike Tice is a heralded offensive line coach who took the Raider’s offensive line from being ranked ranked 16th to 6th in efficiency despite being one of the most penalized units in the NFL in addition to carrying one of the most least effective OGs in J’Marcus Webb. The Raiders did draft what could be the long-term solution at OG in Felicano in the middle round of the 2015 draft but that would not prevent me from drafting an OG of Alexander’s caliber. Alexander absolutely killed it in practice at the 2016 Senior Bowl and McKenzie has a history of drafting players who do well in the Senior Bowl.
Similar to Jackson, Alexander is a heavy footed road-grader who struggles with quickness laterally. However, when blocking in a telephone phone Alexander compensates with a shocking first punch, long arms and quick hands which is why he will be best suited for OG in the NFL. I anticipate that Alexander’s lack of linear speed will suppress his stock just as it did Jackson’s after his molasses-esque 40 time. Jackson had late 1st round grades as well, but as OGs often do, he slipped into the 3rd. Alexander won’t quite slip that far.
Personally, Alexander may be my favorite pick of this mock draft. I love this kid and I believe his toughness will give the unit the edginess it needs to become the bully McKenzie has promised Raider Nation.
(75) DB Sean Davis l Height: 6’01 ⅛” l Weight: 201lbs l 40: 4.53 l Yr: SR
Reminiscent of: Saints CB/S PJ Williams (3rd Rd; 78th overall ’15)
2016 Outlook: Starting FS
Sean Davis is a combo CB/S at Maryland who bounced back and forth between both positions over his college career. However, while decent in coverage Davis was abused underneath because as a taller rangy man he doesn’t have the short area quickness to click and close. Hence, Davis was able to rack up a ton of tackles and led his team in total tackles as a senior and second in solo tackles. On the positive, I think Davis’ time at CB will serve him well in coverage as a safety. Where Davis excels is playing the ball when it’s in front of him which suggests he may do well as a single high FS. Davis does possess the length, physicality and anticipation that translates well to the position. A participant at the Senior Bowl, Davis had a strong outing, he competed and showed aggressiveness all week. Ranked second nationally in forced fumbles with 5. Tied for team leader in interceptions with 3. As a single high FS it’s imperative to make tackles, Davis’ 40 career missed tackles would be a concern.
(111) WR Jalin Marshall l Height: 5’10 ⅝” l Weight: 205lbs l 40: 4.43 l Yr: rSo
Reminiscent of: Patriots WR Julian Edelman (7th Rd; 232nd overall ’09)
2016 Outlook: WR #3/RS
Jalin Marshall will be one of the youngest players in the draft but he also could be one of the most explosive. Marshall is a thickly built gadget player who excels in the return game but also has experience as a slot WR, RB and was a HS QB. Poor route development and never having been the focal point of the offense will hurt his stock but his ceiling is super high. I don’t want to make it seem that Marshall can’t catch as he makes spectacular catches but occasionally will drop easy ones. Lack of production and focus drops will be reflected in his draft stock but he is well worth the risk.
(131) * RB Kelvin Taylor l Height: 5’09 ⅝” l Weight: 205lbs l 40: 4.56 l Yr: JR
Reminiscent of: Former Oakland RB Charlie Garner (2nd Rd; 42nd overall ’94)
2016 Outlook: 3D RB/ CoP RB
Taylor is an undersized CoP RB with elite lateral agility, short area quickness and excellent stop-n-go but lacks linear speed. Taylor has experience playing in a pistol style offense full of RB draws and screens. Taylor, a stark contrast to Murray, has the perfect running style to compliment a shotgun-style offensive and decent enough hands to be an outlet receiver.
(142) WR Marquez North l Height: 6’02 ⅝” l Weight: 224lbs l 40: 4.54 l Yr: JR
2016 Outlook: WR #4
What Oakland Raiders mock draft would be complete without a prospect from Tennessee, McKenzie’s alma mater? McKenzie will have the insider info on North, whose collegiate career was derailed by injury. North has the ceiling to be a better pro than college player despite being a fan favorite whose handful of ridiculous catches have become Tennessee fan lore. North could develop into the physical redzone presence the Raiders desperately need.
(176) **TE Jake McGee l Height: 6’05 ⅜” l Weight: 252lbs l 40: 4.83 l Yr:rSR
Reminiscent of: Former Oakland TE Brandon Myers (6th Rd; 202nd overall ’09)
2016 Outlook: Situational Receiving TE
McGee is a tremendous value pick at this point in the draft. He isn’t the most athletic nor does he have elite speed but he does find soft spots in zones and uses his body well to shield defenders from the ball. McGee was the unheralded focal point of the Gators offense.
202 OLB Terrance Smith l Height: 6’03” l Weight: 219lbs l 40: 4.64 l Yr: rSR
Reminiscent of: Raiders OLB Neiron Ball (5th Rd; 151st overall ’15)
2016 Outlook: Practice Squad
Terrance Smith has really slipped on my board but there is a point where value comes into play. Smith has excellent length and range but at 219lbs his frame might be maxed out and he doesn’t exhibit the functional strength to adequately stack and shed nor does he have the hip flexibility or awareness to be a consistent coverage LB. However, Smith does have upside and could develop into a special teams ace and a quality depth LB.