TEAM NEEDS: QB, DL, LB, CB, OL, S, TE
Reggie McKenzie was dealt an absolutely horrible hand in Oakland. He came into a team that was cap strapped and quite possibly the worst roster in the league. He’s in year two of this massive rebuild and hope springs eternal with a quality draft and a major cap relief coming in 2014.
With needs all over the board, McKenzie was forced to make low cost free agent signings. Nine new starters will come via cost-friendly free agent signings as they were forced to relieve themselves of a slew of starters for cap purposes. The offense went relatively unscathed although they traded for a new starting quarterback in Matt Flynn after Carson Palmer landed in Arizona.
The defense will essentially field a new team with the exception of Tyvon Branch and Lamarr Houston. Many questioned the moves that McKenzie made in the offseason as they weren’t ‘splashy’ signings but with the cap a mess he didn’t have a lot to work with. I think McKenzie has done an admirable job at fielding a team, albeit one of the worst in the league, on paper (and most likely on the field).
McKenzie entered the draft with intentions of trading down from the 3rd pick and he did so as the Dolphins jumped up to No. 3 and the Raiders down to No. 12 allowing them to recoup a second round pick that was lost in the terrible Carson Palmer deal. McKenzie was able to end the draft with ten draft picks which was much needed given the holes in terms of depth and quality on this roster.
Round One, (12) – D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston
Hours before the draft, rumors of the Raiders taking D.J. Hayden with the 3rd pick surfaced. It sent Twitterverse abuzz as Hayden is coming off an injury that almost cost him his life. It’s a great story that is a must read and will make you root for this kid. Story aside, the Raiders were able to trade back to the 12th pick to get their man. Hayden is a flat out playmaker with ball skills for days. He’s isn’t as physical as you would like but probably is the best pure cover corner in the draft.
Round Two, (42) – Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
Watson is a unique talent. We had him graded as a late second round pick but there’s no doubt that his upside warrants this selection. He’s a raw player that came to the States to play basketball. His basketball career didn’t get off the ground at Marist and he took to football at Florida State. With only one year of starting experience (at right tackle) he’s a project that the Raiders may have to sit on the bench for a year or two but has the upside to play at a high level on the left side in the near future. He could be asked to step in next year at right tackle for Khalif Barnes.
Round Three, (66) – Sio Moore, OLB, Connecticut
Sio Moore was one my favorite players in the draft. He’s a swiss army knife at linebacker that can play outside or inside. Ignore the critics that say this isn’t a great fit…Moore’s a football player that will find his way onto the field regardless of scheme. If you turn on the UCONN tape it’s impossible to not take notice of Moore as he’s making plays all over the field. He’s a player that will have a whole lot of teams asking themselves what they missed on this guy.
Round Four, (112) – Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
The Raiders may have struck gold with this pick in the fourth round. Wilson had a rough 2012 season but still has NFL tools. Most important of them is his toughness, both mental and physical. I would be surprised if Wilson wasn’t competing for the starting gig and could be another mid rounder that beats out Matt Flynn.
Round Six, (172) – Nick Kasa, TE, Colorado
The former defensive end has one season of playing tight end under his belt. He’s an upside player with the size and athleticism to excel down the road. We had Kasa graded as a fourth rounder, so getting him in the sixth is a steal in our book.
Round Six, (181) – Latavius Murray, RB, Central Florida
Murray has all the physical tools that you look for in the running back position. He’s in a perfect position in Oakland as he could compete for the backup job with Rashard Jennings. With Darren McFadden’s injury history, Murray could be a candidate to be this year’s Alfred Morris.
Round Six, (184) – Mychal Rivera, TE, Tennessee
Rivera is a move tight end that offers little in terms of inline ability but has the receiving skills to contribute to this offense down the road.
Round Six, (205) – Stacy McGee, DT, Oklahoma
McGee will give the Raiders some much needed depth along the defensive front. He’s not going to impact this team as a starter but gives them a rotational guy to develop.
Round Seven, (209) – Brice Butler, WR, San Diego State
Butler has nice size on the outside. He’s worth a seventh round flier as he carries some upside at the WR position.
Round Seven, (233) – David Bass, DE, Missouri Western
This may have been one of my favorite late round picks by any team. Bass timed poorly but found ways to get to the quarterback at Missouri Western. He’s a guy to stash on the bench and use as a subpackage rusher early in his career.
UNDRAFTED FREE AGENT SIGNINGS: Kyle Padron, QB, Eastern Washington – Mike Hermann, QB, RPI – Deonte Williams, RB, Cal-Poly – Jared McGriff-Culver, FB, Missouri – Sam McGuffie, WR, Rice – Connor Vernon, WR, Duke – Braden Hansen, OG, BYU – Josh Leonard, OL, Wyoming – John Wetzel, OL, Boston College – Lamar Mady, OG, Youngstown State – Logan Freeman, OT, Central Missouri – Kentrell Harris, DL, Virginia Union – Kurt Tuaufa’asau, DL, Wyoming – Jarell Childs, LB, Kansas State – Billy Boyko, LB, Lehigh – Kenneth Jackson, LB, Cal-Poly – Freddy Young, DB, New Mexico State – Dexter McCoil, S, Tulsa – Adrian Bushell, CB, Louisville – Bobby Cowan, P, Idaho – Adam Steiner, LS, Akron
Reggie McKenzie knew coming in that he wasn’t going to address all the needs of this team. When he took over as GM he knew it was going to be a rebuild for the long haul.
McKenzie should take his bow after this offseason. He adequately replaced Carson Palmer, found a backup running back and filled his defensive roster with one-year prove it contracts. McKenzie has set himself up for a big offseason after this season, which could be filled with its fair share of lumps. The Raiders will have (by far) the most dollars to spend next offseason and could essentially remake this roster in McKenzie’s image.
The 2013 NFL Draft has to be considered an early success (pay no attention to draft grades). The Raiders were able to find guys that could start in the short-term and could have snatched up a long-term quarterback option in Tyler Wilson in the fourth round. If Wilson can compete for the starting job this season, this draft will be considered a coup for McKenzie and Company.