2017 NFL Draft: Oakland Raiders Mid-April 7-Round Mock Draft
The 2017 NFL Draft is just around the corner. This latest Oakland Raiders seven-round mock draft gives us a glimpse at what could unfold during the late-April event.
In just over two weeks, the 2017 NFL Draft gets under way. Although the Oakland Raiders appear preoccupied with the looming move to Las Vegas and potential signing of Marshawn Lynch, you better believe the team’s brass is prepared for football’s annual graduation ceremony.
With eight picks at their disposal, the Raiders are in position to secure their status as a contender in 2017. Although they underwhelmed during free agency despite possessing plenty of cap space, I’m guessing general manager Reggie McKenzie has a few tricks up his sleeve for the draft. Oakland has crushed it in recent years, so don’t expect any different from the Silver and Black this year.
Despite a few noteworthy free agency additions, the Raiders have a number of needs to fill. The defense is still in need of a few playmakers, and adding depth to a number of offensive positions would be ideal. Until draft day arrives, though, we won’t know what the plan is to address said needs.
For now, all we can do is speculate. That’s what this is latest seven-round mock draft (created using Fanspeak’s On the Clock tool) is all about — piecing together a potential plan for the Raiders during the 2017 NFL Draft. Just remember that these picks are focused on addressing needs and picking players where their draft stock would suggest-they aren’t hard predictions.
Note: The Raiders received a seventh-round pick from the Seattle Seahawks in a trade for defensive back Dewey McDonald.
Inside Linebacker, Florida
For some reason, Jarrad Davis’ stock recently started to slide. There were mentions of him falling into the latter parts of the second round, potentially due to the lack of value attributed to the linebacker position. However, all chatter about Davis’ stock declining has come to a halt.
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During his Pro Day, Davis tore it up. Not only did he manage a 4.56-second 40-yard dash (via Jared Tokarz), but he showed off his explosiveness with a 38.5-inch vertical jump that would have embarrassed most defensive backs at the NFL Combine. It was an impressive showing from someone who already had some folks talking first round.
Now that he’s essentially solidified himself as a Day 1 talent, it only seems right for the Raiders to grab him at No. 24. They would be getting a tremendous football player as well as an excellent leader who brings a contagious passion for the game to the table. This defense could use a new playmaker in the middle who can rally the troop on game day.
Davis has all the makings of a star at middle linebacker. After watching Malcolm Smith flounder in the role for the last couple of seasons, it’s time for the Raiders to make an upgrade. I believe the Florida product is more than worthy of the designation here in the first round.
When I saw that Kevin King was still on the board in the second round, I simply couldn’t resist. Many folks are talking about him as a fringe first-round talent, and the Raiders have already shown significant interest in the former Husky. This is a match made in football heaven.
Last season, the Raiders fielded the 24th-ranked pass defense. While their starting cornerbacks weren’t terrible, they absolutely didn’t live up to their billing as stars. Now the situation is worse at the position after the team lost D.J. Hayden, one of its only capable backups, to free agency. That’s why finding a quality prospect at cornerback needs to happen during the draft.
King can check that box off of the Raiders’ offseason to-do list. Some will complain that he doesn’t complement starters Sean Smith and David Amerson due to his similar size and length. However, as we saw at the Combine, he’s got the speed and athleticism to bring a different dimension to this Oakland secondary.
At No. 56, the Washington product would be a downright steal. He’s got the skills to hear his name called on Day 1, but instead fell to the Raiders in the second half of the second round. It would be a dream come true for John Pagano and this defense.
Free Safety, UConn
Another round, another defensive back, and another serious steal. The Raiders are making out like bandits in this draft, all while making some major upgrades to a defense that desperately needs them. In the third round, Obi Melifonwu has to be the pick if he’s still on the board.
Now I will mention this is highly unlikely, but Fanspeak gave me the option and I took it. Melifonwu has been discussed as a potential first-round pick overflowing with upside. So you can understand my interest in grabbing him in the third round when I saw that he was still available. Put simply, it was a no-brainer.
The former UConn star is arguably one of the best athletes in this 2017 draft class. Although he still needs some polish as a playmaker on the back end, his speed, instincts and ability to get his hands on the ball are impeccable. A season or two to work on his tackling and understanding of coverage concepts will do wonders for his career outlook.
The Raiders currently have Reggie Nelson as their starting free safety, and he’s terrific. However, at 33 years of age, he isn’t going to be around forever. By bringing in Melifonwu, Oakland gets a young, high-upside safety who can learn for a year and take over the starting job when Nelson’s contract is up next year.
Running Back, Oklahoma
Even if the Raiders do end up signing Marshawn Lynch, adding a young power back to the mix wouldn’t be the worst idea. Lynch isn’t going to be around much longer if he does un-retire, and Oakland could use a runner who can learn from him with the potential to take the reins in a year or two.
That back could be Samaje Perine, who is an underrated talent in my opinion. While we know about the success he enjoyed during his early days at Oklahoma (he holds the FBS single-game rushing record), he is often labeled as a one-dimensional back due to his lack of speed and receiving skills.
Thankfully, the Raiders already have DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard to do the early-down work. Instead, Perine brings with him power — and plenty of it. He’s a bulldozer in the ground game, using his forceful running and his thick frame to create yards for himself. Realistically, that’s what Oakland needs right now.
Perine may never be a featured back in the NFL, but he can certainly tie together the Raiders’ committee nicely. If Lynch is signed, he can learn from one of the better power backs in recent memory before assuming the role in the near future.
Wide Receiver, North Carolina
I know wide receiver isn’t a huge need. However, the defensive tackle talent available wasn’t up to par and I just couldn’t pass on a player like Mack Hollins who could end up being a Day 3 steal based on his natural athletic abilities.
What makes Hollins a unique talent is his rare mix of size and speed. Despite being 6-4, 220 pounds, the North Carolina product flies down the field in the way most big guys don’t. So not only can he simply overpower and out-jump his opponents, but he’s got the wheels to keep them on their heels.
The Raiders are also lacking that jump-ball receiver who towers over defensive backs. They had their size-speed freak in Andre Holmes, but he never panned out and then jumped ship this offseason. Hollins can fill that role, with the potential to assert himself as a reliable red zone threat who can also stretch the field. He reminds me somewhat of Martavis Bryant minus the drug issues.
Now here’s the problem with Hollins: he’s extremely raw. His route running needs a lot of work, as the Tar Heels used him primarily as a field stretcher. However, between his mix of physical gifts and special teams value, I believe he’s a worthy investment in the fifth round due to his high ceiling.
Edge Defender, Eastern Washington
With late-round picks, I tend to focus on potential above all else. Late-rounders aren’t usually expected to contribute as rookies, so finding players who can make an impact somewhere down the road seems like the best way to approach these selections.
That’s exactly what I’m doing by going with Samson Ebukam in the sixth round. The former Eastern Washington star is still extremely raw, but has the upside to develop into a serious playmaking edge rusher with a few years of TLC and NFL coaching.
The Nigeria native possesses ridiculous athleticism, but is still learning the nuances of coming off the edge. His technique is a work in progress, and he needs to do a better job of using leverage to win at the point of attack. The speed, size and instincts are all there for him to make a living on passing downs, though.
Throughout his career with the Eagles, Ebukam amassed 24 sacks, including nine during his senior season. If the Raiders can continue to harness that upside, they could find themselves a quality edge rusher who can serve as an intriguing backup behind Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin.
Defensive Tackle, Tulane
I know what you’re thinking–defensive tackle should have been addressed much sooner than this. However, given the way this mock draft played out, there was never a right opportunity to snag a prospect I liked without leaving someone better on the board.
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Hence, the selection of Tanzel Smart here in the seventh round. Before you start moaning and groaning, though, let’s not discount the fact that the Tulane product has the physical tools to be a difference maker at the next level. The only real questions are how big of an impact can he make, and when can he make it?
Right now, the Raiders need a reliable interior pass rusher who can take pressure off Mack and Irvin to keep quarterbacks uncomfortable. As we saw last season, they don’t appear to have anyone currently on the roster who can get the job done. Smart, however, has the makings of a quality interior force who just needs some time to adjust.
Hailing from Tulane, Smart will take some time learning to handle the speed and size of NFL players. With a year or two of training and coaching, though, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him develop into a capable contributor along the defensive line.
Offensive Tackle, UCLA
It wasn’t long ago Conor McDermott was considered a potential Day 2 talent. Then, the NFL Combine happened and teams quickly realized how little functional strength he currently possesses. Obviously that’s not a good thing when it comes to offensive linemen.
Still, there is a smidgen of hope for the former Bruin. Not only does he have tremendous size at 6-8, 307 pounds, but he’s a phenomenal athlete for a man of his stature. That’s why teams were enamored with the idea of him in the first place — it’s just too bad there are so many missing pieces that come with this puzzle.
Between his lack of strength at the point of attack and struggles with gaining leverage due to his height, McDermott is going to have to battle tooth and nail for everything he gets at the next level. While it’s not out the question, it’s going to take a lot of time in the weight room and determination off the field to get it done.
At best, McDermott is a project with considerable upside. It’s all about how he responds to being asked to get stronger and refine his technique. Either way, I’m thinking Tom Cable would love to have a piece of clay like this to mold with the hopes of uncovering a capable starting offensive tackle.