RaiDeR WaTCH: 2016 Oakland Raider Mock Draft v.5

Begin here to start the slide show of Raider Watch's 2016 Oakland Raider Mock Draft.

(* - All projected draft rounds were provided by in conjunction with
Round 1-14 (#14)     
   OLB Darron Lee  Height: 6'00 ¾  Weight: 232lbs  40 (10 split): 4.47 (1.54)

There's no denying that the Raiders seem intent on focusing on the defensive side of of the ball in 2016 after similarly focusing on the offense in 2015, highlighted by the surprise signing of SAM LB Bruce Irvin to play the coveted LEO position.  With the additional signing of Cover 3 CB, Sean Smith, the defense is looking eerily similar to Seattle's 43 Under. However, despite having addressed many of their biggest needs there are still some glaring holes. Namely, LB (a position that fans overwhelmingly wanted addressed this offseason) almost seems an afterthought while basking in the glow of what could be the most impactful free agent class the Raiders have seen in over a decade.

Most of the fanbase debate has been between UCLA's Myles Jack, who tore his meniscus last season and hopes to be ready by training camp,  and Notre Dame's Jaylon Smith, who has suffered a career threatening knee injury. If both were healthy I'd probably be having that debate as well, but then it would also be highly unlikely that either prospect would be available at #14. Hence, my favorite LB prospect is Ohio State's Darron Lee (6'01" 232lbs 40: 4.47) who is very reminiscent of Seattle LB Bobby Wagner (6'00" 241lbs 40: 4.46) as both have outstanding athleticism and are run and hit LBs. In my opinion, Lee is perfect for KNJ's defensive system.

LB Heeney is a fan favorite whose consensus is that if kept clean can more than adequately hold down the MLB position. However, for a moment imagine that a more dynamic player with more range and athleticism is in the same system and "kept clean". That player would be Darron Lee, who could also play WILL.  In the past I have argued, that despite being arguably my favorite prospect in the draft, that #14 was too high to draft this type of player. I'm reconsidering that for two reasons: 1) The absence of Jaylon Smith will prop up Lee's value and 2) in today's NFL Lee might be the future of the position. Lee is still learning the position but early returns suggest the kid is a natural.
Round 2-13 (#44)
      FS Vonn Bell  Height: 5'10 ¾  Weight: 199lbs  40 (10 split): 4.51 (N/A)

Vonn Bell is my highest rated safety prospect in the draft. Safety position titles are essentially ambiguous as responsibilities can change based on offensive group sets and/or formations. Bell is officially listed as a SS, however, given his skill set he is probably better suited for FS in most NFL secondaries. Bell is lauded for his ball skills, football IQ, man coverage skills and his sure tackling. The consensus of criticisms on Bell are questions about his size, physicality and willingness in the run game, all criticisms that would be less of a factor at FS.

Bell, who didn't run the 40 at the combine, displayed prototypical FS speed with a 4.51 40 at OSU's Pro Day. Bell has prototypical size for a FS (Ed Reed 5'11 201lbs 40: 4.57 or Weddle 5'11 203lbs 40: 4.56). Bell is considered a sure tackler but a more technical than intimidating hitter. Again, traits which are better suited to FS. Lastly, few collegiate safeties have as much experience or played at a high-level as a single-high safety, which is a secondary set that the Raiders often deploy, as Bell. The Raiders can only sign so many high level free agents and having missed out on acquiring FS Weddle, the Raiders should place a priority on drafting Bell.
Round 3-12 (#75)     
  DT  Chris Jones  Height: 6'05 ¾"  Weight: 310lbs  40 (10 split): 5.02 (1.70)

The enigma that is DT Chris Jones. Jones had games where he was absolutely dominate, in particular the Missouri game, where he appeared to be a 1st round selection. In other games Jones did not dominate despite his impressive measurables and his ability to play multiple positions along the defensive line. Often, while disruptive, Jones simply failed to complete big plays that ultimately made Jones appear less productive than he was. Some have Jones going as high as the 1st because of his Combine performance, measurables and big play ability but Jones was only a starter for one season and there are questions about his consistency. Jones has been characterized as a splash player who flashes big play ability but also disappears in between.  The 2016 NFL Draft is absolutely loaded with NFL defensive linemen, hence, I have Jones slipping into the 3rd. If Jones happens not to be available there trust that there will be numerous other intriguing options at DT in the 3rd.
Round 4-16 (#114)
Kenyan Drake  Height: 6'00 ⅝"  Weight: 210lbs
  40 (10 split): 4.45 (1.64)

Latavius Murray didn't play at all his rookie season because he had not fully recovered from a bad knee injury he sustained in college. In 2014, Latavius, who was coming off a redshirt season, looked like a potential homerun hitter in limited play behind Darren McFadden and MJD, who were floundering.  Fans could not understand why Latavius could not overtake DMC. Going into 2015, many fans were ecstatic that Latavius would develop into the bell cow RB he showed flashes of, yet to the bewilderment of many, the Raiders hotly pursued what was FA RB DeMarco Murray (bad judgement aside) before Lavativus took a starter's snap. Luckily, DeMarco signed elsewhere and became one of the least effective FA signings ever. But failing in Philly and having Latavius go to the ProBowl didn't stop the Raiders AGAIN from pursuing DeMarco via trade when he wanted out of Philly. The attraction to DeMarco boggles my mind (before or after Dallas) but that's beside the point. In addition, the Raiders were rumored to be vetting Tampa FA RB Doug Martin, who eventually signed for big money. Neither of these big money RBs feel like backups that will JUST split time with Latavius. JDR was recently quoted as saying the Raiders will "Get some help" at RB. The fact that Latavius Murray is in a contract year cannot be lost . Clearly, at the minimum, the Raiders are adamant about adding serious competition at the RB position.

Moving forward, there are a number of intriguing options at RB in the 4th but the one with most upside that could be there in the 4th is Alabama RB Kenyan Drake. I try not to characterize schools but usually I would stay away from an Alabama RB because of the mileage they have when they enter the NFL but Drake was never the featured back, thus possibly preserving his best carries for the NFL and he is an excellent receiver out of the backfield. Drake has feature back qualities for the type of offense the Raiders wish to run but if he is to get significant time he must improve his pass protection as rumors suggest Drake was routinely "blown up" in pass protection at the Senior Bowl. Weak pass protection will cause Drake to slide on draft day despite his versatile skill set.
Round 5-4 (#143) - via DALL
    S Jayron Kearse  Height: 6'04"  Weight: 216lbs  40 (10 split): 4.62 (1.63)

I've written extensively about how it is my personal opinion that DC Norton Jr. is running a near clone of Seattle's defense. One component of Seattle's defense that is the hardest to emulate is the presence of a Kam Chancellor-esque enforcer roaming in the 2nd tier of the defense. It is very difficult to find a player of Chancellor's rare combination of length and physicality. Despite all the talent Seattle has amassed on the defensive side of the ball it seems that Chancellor ending his holdout was the key to Seattle's mid-season resurgence.

Hence, it is of no surprise the Raiders were rumored by beat writers to be interested in Bengal's free agent S George Iloka as he is reminiscent of Chancellor. In addition, there is great draft buzz about the Raider's affinity for Boise State S Darian Thompson, who is a ball-hawking enforcer safety. If the Raider's are looking for an enforcer for their secondary one of my favorite options is Clemson's Jayron Kearse.

Kearse's stock once peaked around the late 1st and has cascaded to late 4th - early 5th. On paper, Kearse's measurables are Chancellor-esque, which in itself suggests that these types of safety prospects are not for every system. Where Kearse is lacking in relationship to other prospects of this ilk is in mental aspects of the game such as read and reaction, disposition and attitude. Kearse is a high-cut, tight-hipped, long lanky guy. He will never do well playing man against smaller, quicker men but he does need to take better angles in tackling and diagnose run plays quicker.

Understand that while I am an advocate of Kearse at this point in the draft he needs a lot of work and the presence of Marcus Robinson and Rod Woodson being on the staff do play a part in the attractiveness of this pick. Kearse is not a day one plug and play prospect and there will be growing pains. I project it may not all come together for Kearse in the NFL until his contract year.
Round 5-15 (#154)
Marquez North  Height: 6'02 ½"  Weight: 223lbs  40 (10 split): 4.48 (1.60)

Marquez North is one of my favorite WR developmental prospects in the draft. Not only does his stock represent value but tremendous developmental potential as well.  If you are the kind of draftnik enthusiast that is intrigued by prospects that become better professional players than collegiate ones then you understand the analogy that North may be the next Chris Cooley. North's ceiling isn't too high but North has found his stock stunted by injuries that derailed a college career that was short but has injected North into Volunteer lore with spectacular highlight reel catches.

At the 2016 Senior Bowl the Raiders interviewed UCLA WR Jordan Payton. I write this because there will be those who would suggest that the Raiders are set at WR with Crabs, Coop, Holmes & Roberts but that interview suggests that the front office is open to addressing the depth at the position and could carry as many as 6 WRs on the active roster. UCLA's Payton is projected as a 3rd rounder, North has a better H/W/S ratio and is a more dynamic player provided he's healthy. In addition, North has a Raider connection playing for Tennessee which is the alma mater of both McKenzie and Clinkscales.
Round 6-19 (#194) - via IND
CB  Ryan Smith  Height: 5'11"  Weight: 189lbs  40 (10 split): 4.47 (N/A)

No Oakland Raider mock draft would be complete without the obligatory small school prospect that McKenzie & Co are adept at finding.
"During the highlight event, the 40-yard dash, Smith posted the 12th-fastest time at his position at 4.47 seconds. He also tied for third in the 60-yard shuttle (11.18 seconds), placed sixth in the three-cone drill (6.88 seconds), tied for seventh in the bench press (18 reps of 225 pounds), tied for eighth in the 20-yard shuttle (4.09 seconds), tied for 12th in the vertical jump (36.0 inches) and tied for 16th in the broad jump (122.0 inches). After his on-field drills on Wednesday inside NCCU's O'Kelly-Riddick Stadium, Smith was surrounded by NFL scouts, who fired off a bunch of questions. Many of them also sought out some one-on-one time with the all-MEAC performer. According to Aaron Wilson, who covers the Texans for The Houston Chronicle, Smith is "a fast-rising NFL draft prospect." In Wilson's article on, he reports that Smith has private workouts scheduled with the Arizona Cardinals, Detroit Lions, New York Jets, New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens and Carolina Panthers. He also has visits slated with the Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings."

Smith was all-conference at CB and as a return specialist. In 11 passes defended (which led the team), Smith intercepted 2 and broke up 9. Smith also ranked 10th in the nation as a kick returner averaging 28.1 yards per kick off return. Tabbed a "draft riser", Smith may get drafted as high as the 4th.
Round 7-13 (#234)     
WR Jalin Marshall  Height: 5'10 ½"  Weight: 200lbs  40 (10 split): 4.60 (1.59)

The Raiders have been trying to shore up it's return game for a number of years running the gambit from Joshua Cribbs (who built his career as a returner) to breaking down and using their high profile WR draftee Amari Cooper as a punt returner. Return specialist and special teams ace Taiwan Jones has proven too brittle to be the long term solution and WR Andre Dubose (who may not return to form) is unproven and untested.

Hence, I would suggest the Raiders look at OSU's gadget athlete Jalin Marshall. Marshall ran a 4.60 40 at the combine so he isn't a linear speedster but he does possess elite lateral agility and vision. Marshall is a stocky 5'10 ½" slot WR built like a RB yet he has short area burst as his 1.59 10-yard split might suggest. Do not let Marshall's pedestrian NFL Combine distract you, there is a place in the league for a prospect like this with late round value. Marshall could solve the return problem for a number of years.
Raider Nation let your voice be heard and tell me what you think about this mock draft!
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