Breaking down the Round 1 options for the Oakland Raiders that meet the criteria learned from Reggie McKenzie’s draft history.
In case you missed it, the third annual edition of “Predicting Reggie McKenzie’s draft board” was recently published here on Only 1 Nation. The project is quite extensive, in which the concept is to examine McKenzie’s draft history with the Oakland Raiders, identify size and athletic thresholds at each position and use that to create a big board for the draft class.
This year’s edition — unlike in the past — included Pro Day data, and the final product culminated in a big board of 125 total prospects that checked every single box at their respective position. Data was gathered for 1,058 players in total, so the final draft board eliminated nearly 90% of the draft class.
Here is the board, which again includes every prospect that meets the all of the minimum size and athletic thresholds at their respective position.
To narrow things down even further, we’re going to take these 125 prospects and break them down into round-by-round targets for the Raiders. There will be three articles, broken up exactly the same as the draft schedule — Round 1 on its own, Rounds 2 and 3 together, and Rounds 4 through 7 together.
This article is for Round 1. These projections were found using a combination of www.draftscout.com and www.nfl.com.
Let’s get started.
Using the final big board, of the prospects that did not fail a single size or athletic threshold at their position, 12 of them are projected to go in the first round per the two aforementioned websites.
- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
- Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
- Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
- Marcus Davenport, DE, UT San Antonio
- Harold Landry, DE, Boston College
- Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
- Vita Vea, DT, Washington
- Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
- Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
- Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
- Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
Of this group, Barkley, Nelson, Chubb and Fitzpatrick are widely considered four of the best prospects in this entire draft class. Occasionally there are rumors that get floated out there that any one of these players could slip for who knows what reason, but the most likely scenario is all four are off the board when the Raiders are on the clock with the 10th overall pick.
If not, any of these four that are available would be a tremendous pick, and the latest word is that it may be Minkah who falls. The connection to former Bama DB and now Raiders DB Coach Derrick Ansley is obvious, but his presence on the staff is not needed to justify this potential pick. Fitzpatrick is a jack of all trades that can be a team captain and cornerstone of a defense for a decade-plus. He may not have the upside of Derwin James (which just means athleticism) but he is better nearly in every other regard.
— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) October 9, 2016
For argument’s sake, let’s scratch those four off the list — leaving us with eight remaining options.
McGlinchey would be the least sexy of these options, but don’t rule it out. He’d bring a steady and reliable presence to the tackle position, and could be a successor to Donald Penn on the left side. But McGlinchey may not have the potential to be an All-Pro type tackle, and rather just an above-average player that carves out a lengthy career. Certainly not a bad thing, but if you’re drafting an offensive tackle in the top ten, you want him to be in the conversation of being the league’s best — McGlinchey doesn’t seem likely to be that guy.
Davenport is probably the trendiest pick for the Raiders among fans and analysts. He certainly looks the part at 6’5″ and a chiseled 264 pounds, but his game needs quite a bit of refinement. His talent is there, but out of everyone in this group, Davenport screams “project”. With Jon Gruden back in the driver’s seat, the team’s philosophy in free agency makes it seem like they are trying to jump right back into this “win now” window. They need an impact player now, not a player who could be one in two or three years.
The Vita Vea, Da’Ron Payne and Maurice Hurst debate has been an ongoing discussion among Raiders fans for months. Vea is outstanding at what he does, but his pass rushing upside is limited and that is what the Raiders need from the interior. Similar things can be said for Payne, and he isn’t near the run stuffer that Vea is. Hurst isn’t on the list because he failed McKenzie’s minimum threshold for weight at DT, checking in eight pounds below 300. Plus he has that heart issue which gives reason for concern. But he’s the best pass rusher from the interior in this class and should be considered ahead of the other DTs.
Regarding the trio of LBs — Edmunds, Roquan and Vander Esch — McKenzie has shown that he does not value this position all that highly. And in a Q&A after his hiring, new defensive coordinator Paul Guenther echoed some similar thoughts. Will either of these two change course? Or will Gruden’s influence, perhaps to get another Derrick Brooks caliber player for his defense, be enough to make one of these three the pick?
Starting with Roquan, he’s the fan favorite for the pick. But with Reuben Foster continuing to get in trouble with the Niners, they may take their insurance policy one spot ahead of the Raiders. In fact, I believe that is exactly what happens. But if not, Smith is a prototypical modern day linebacker, with excellent sideline to sideline ability. He’s a stud.
My thoughts on Edmunds are similar to Davenport, but to a lesser extent. Picking him at #10, you are banking on quite a bit coming together for him to be the player you hope he can become. So for that reason, if the Raiders do go linebacker, my money is on Vander Esch.
Leighton is a physical specimen at 6’4″ 256 as well as a big-time athlete — perhaps superior to both Roquan and Edmunds. If Gruden wants a grinder, this is the guy. He doesn’t play up to his size at times, but Gruden and McKenzie’s track record shows they prefer more old-school, thumper type LBs rather than the new school Deion Jones type of backer. Vander Esch is a sleeper pick for #10 that few have talked about. He can stack and shed blocks and his range is outstanding.
Of the top-rated LBs, Vander Esch is by far the most physical linebacker and he’s good some decent range. pic.twitter.com/LeJ76umd02
— Ted Nguyen (@FB_FilmAnalysis) April 9, 2018
Last but not least — Harold Landry. I’ve settled in on him being my favorite realistic option for the Raiders at #10. His 2016 season was absolutely elite, as his dominance as an edge rusher was on display to the tune of 16.5 sacks in 12 games played.
Landry was hampered by injuries in his senior season, but his pass rushing prowess was still evident. The Raiders badly need a third impact pass rusher right away, and Landry would be just that. But he also would serve as a long-term pairing with Khalil Mack once the Bruce Irvin era is over, which will be as soon as next season. His ability to bend around the edge is top-notch, and he uses a variety of pass-rushing moves to get home and finish.
Harold Landry’s ability to dip and bend the arc is so good. He can help a team off of the edge immediately. Top-15 prospect. pic.twitter.com/nPwcwkuY3b
— J.R. (@JReidDraftScout) April 8, 2018
So all things considered, Landry is my pick — shout out to Only 1 Nation writer Seth Murphy, who has been a Landry fan longer than anyone I know.
Of the four studs — Barkley, Chubb, Nelson and Fitzpatrick — it’s Minkah that is currently considered the most likely to fall. His versatility could solve a lot of the problems this defense has, but any of these four would be phenomenal picks.
McGlinchey would be a reach based on positional value — OTs are a premium, so he’s not worth this pick as a prospect, but maybe in a trade down scenario.
Davenport is a project, and the Raiders don’t have time for that. Edmunds is also quite raw, but he’s more ready for the next level than Davenport is.
Between Payne and Vea, it should be a player not on my list, Maurice Hurst (failed the weight threshold by 8 pounds), who is considered at this spot. He’s the best pass rusher from the interior in this class and that’s the need.
I’m a big fan of both Roquan and Vander Esch. But I believe Roquan will be gone (Niners) and I also think Vander Esch is more of McKenzie and Gruden’s type.
Landry is a stud. He has elite potential at a premium position and is my favorite realistic option for the pick.
Stay tuned for similar content for Rounds 2 and 3 next, followed by Rounds 4 through 7 after that.