A last minute trade down in the first round saved the Raiders a lot of value in this year’s draft, as they took the same player they were reported to have interest in with the 3rd overall pick. They picked up only an additional second-round pick for dropping nine spots but all things considered, it was a move that worked out very well for Oakland since they were lacking a 2nd-round pick from the Carson Palmer trade. Chris Tripodi puts the Raiders’ draft under the microscope below.
D.J. Hayden/CB/Houston (Round 1/Pick #12): The Raiders were reportedly ready to take Hayden with their 3rd overall pick before moving the pick to Miami and even still, the pick can be considered a slight reach. Hayden was highly regarded before a freak practice collision in November caused a vein in his heart to tear. This injury was nearly fatal but after being medically cleared shortly before the draft, Hayden’s stock skyrocketed back to where it was before his injury. He has good size (5-11, 192), speed (4.44) and ball skills and is a high-upside cornerback who could justify the Raiders’ making him the second corner off the board. Hayden’s athleticism and physicality should help him start on the outside right away for the Raiders.
Menelik Watson/T/Florida State (Round 2/Pick #42): Oakland was able to parlay their early first-round pick into D.J. Hayden and Watson, who could be the Raiders’ starting right tackle in Week 1 but may be better off with a few games on the sideline. A junior college transfer who came to the United States to play basketball, his football experience is limited but his upside is huge. He has the size (6-5, 310) and strength to push defenders off the ball in the run game and is quick and agile enough to adjust to rushers coming off the edge. Watson’s movement skills are impressive for a big man and he improved consistently during his only season with the Seminoles. If he can continue to develop his fundamentals and learn balance and body positioning, he can be a very good player in the NFL.
Sio Moore/LB/Connecticut (Round 3/Pick #66): Moore was a prospect that we reported was gaining steam in the last few days leading up to the draft, with some talk of him landing in the second round. When that scenario didn’t materialize, Oakland was happy to grab him early in the third. Moore scrapes well and uses his 4.6 speed to cover a lot of ground and make plays in space and in pursuit. He’s slow shedding blocks but usually just runs around them to make plays. While that won’t work quite as well at the NFL level, if Moore can improve his playing strength he should be able to crack the Oakland 3-4 as an outside linebacker.
Tyler Wilson/QB/Arkansas (Round 4/Pick #112): After an outstanding All-SEC junior year, Wilson lost Coach Bobby Petrino and three NFL receivers heading into his senior season. His production suffered as a result and the team struggled to a sub-.500 record, but Wilson was widely lauded for the toughness he showed dealing with the adversity of the season. He’ll try to be the second mid-round rookie quarterback named Wilson to steal a starting job from Matt Flynn in training camp and even if not, he definitely has a shot to overtake Terrelle Pryor as Flynn’s backup. Wilson has surprisingly small hands and doesn’t have the arm to lead a vertical offense but neither does Flynn, and his hand size shouldn’t be an issue with good weather in Oakland. If he can play like he did in 2011 with NFL-caliber talent around him again, Wilson has a good chance to start at some point in 2013, especially if the Raiders struggle.
Nick Kasa/TE/Colorado (Round 6/Pick #172): A former defensive lineman who played his final two years at Colorado as a tight end, Kasa has untapped potential that the Raiders are hoping they can cultivate after losing Brandon Myers this offseason. Kasa is big (6-6, 269) and fast (4.74) but hasn’t learned to stretch the field or catch the ball consistently yet. His route-running is solid for a player with limited experience and he is a strong blocker who can develop a complete game in the NFL. Kasa has more upside than most sixth-round picks and can be a starter in the future if he works hard to improve.
Latavius Murray/RB/Central Florida (Round 6/Pick #181): The first thing most notice about Murray is his size at 6-3, 220 pounds and he plays big, showing the ability to move the pile and break tackles to keep runs alive. He shows good quickness and vision and his receiving skills are an asset, but he’s a straight-line runner who doesn’t accelerate well when changing direction. With the departure of Mike Goodson, Murray will battle fellow big back Rashad Jennings to be the primary backup to injury-prone Darren McFadden. Neither is well suited for a primary offensive role, so the Raiders better hope McFadden can stay healthy for once.
Mychal Rivera/TE/Tennessee (Round 6/Pick #184): Oakland is hoping the sixth round can fill the depth chart at tight end and while Kasa has potential as an inline starter thanks to his blocking ability, Rivera is a move tight end that could be a very nice complement. Rivera can create mismatches in the secondary and shows good body control and the ability to make tough catches. At just 242 pounds, he isn’t much of a blocker but can be a weapon in the passing game if he can translate his college production to the NFL.
Stacy McGee/DT/Oklahoma (Round 6/Pick #205): McGee is the type of player that fits the Raiders’ reputation, and not in a positive way. He started his senior year on suspension for violation of team rules and was arrested for driving under the influence later in the season. On the field, he’s a nasty lineman with a great bull rush who shows flashes of dominance but never really developed in college. Consistency and maturity are McGee’s biggest issues and unless he can get those in line, he will have a very short NFL career.
Brice Butler/WR/San Diego State (Round 7/Pick #209): After transferring from USC, Butler had just 24 catches as a senior but his flashes of ability got him drafted late. He has average size and speed but solid hands, good timing and the ability to go up and get the ball in a crowd. Butler is not NFL ready and will struggle to make the active roster as a rookie, especially with four receivers already ahead of him on the depth chart. If he makes the practice squad and shows improvement throughout the year, he could provide depth at the position by the end of the year.
David Bass/DE/Missouri Western (Round 7/Pick #233): It’s rare to find a two-time All-American in the seventh round, but Bass’ elite production (26.5 sacks as a junior and senior) came on the small-school level and no team was willing to take a flier on his talents until Oakland did. Bass is on the small side for a 4-3 defensive end at 6-4, 262 pounds but is an explosive pass rusher off the edge. He struggles with leverage and staying low but if he can work on his technique, Bass has the potential to be a useful specialist at the NFL level since he can really get after the quarterback.
Grade: B-. This grade would have been a notch or two lower if Oakland hadn’t been able to trade out of the top-3, assuming they were taking Hayden anyway. He has the potential to be a very good player but will need to prove he’s fully healthy again to justify taking him 12th overall, although he definitely has the talent to be the second best corner in this draft. Watson, Moore and Wilson were all solid picks who could be starting for the Raiders at some point this season and have good upside for their draft spots. With their six picks in the final two rounds, the Raiders are hoping they can solidify the tight end position and turn one or two of their other picks into solid rotational players.