Thoughts on the 3rd round selections of the Oakland Raiders, OT Brandon Parker and DE Arden Key.
After bolstering the trenches with their first two selections in the 2018 NFL Draft via OT Kolton Miller and DT P.J. Hall, the Oakland Raiders doubled down in the 3rd round with an additional two picks dedicated to helping the frontline.
To kick off the 3rd round (#65 overall), the Raiders got aggressive and traded up to select offensive tackle Brandon Parker out of North Carolina AT&T. To get him, Oakland had to send the Ravens picks #75, #152 and #212 — a 3rd, 5th and a 6th. That’s a steep price to move up to take an offensive tackle that was widely projected to go in the 4th or the 5th round.
But the pick doesn’t come as a surprise in terms of the player that was picked — it’s when he was picked that in peculiar. On April 21, I wrote this about potential 4th round options for the Raiders:
Reggie is going to like Brandon Parker, OT out of North Carolina AT&T. He’s a 6’7″ four-year starter, with nearly an 85″ wingspan to boot. He’s not the best athlete but that isn’t much of a factor based on McKenzie’s draft history at this position. On the bright side, he’s quite technically sound — more so than many other OTs that will be available in this range.
Parker fits the mold of OTs McKenzie has drafted in the past, checking every box in regard to size and athleticism. He’s nearly 6’8″ and 305 pounds, with long 35″ arms. For the most part, he’s a slightly above average athlete for the position. Like any small-school prospect, he is considered raw and needs to prove himself against better talent, but as was the case with the rest of the picks the Raiders had the first two days of the draft, he has the tools.
Parker had an up and down week at the Senior Bowl, looking good during practice but also giving up two sacks during the game.
Good stuff by Brandon Parker pic.twitter.com/eWdaKc5wJ7
— Billy Marshall (@BillyM_91) January 25, 2018
— Orlando Alzugaray (@BigOShow) January 24, 2018
Doubling down at offensive tackle also sent a clear message — Gruden was not impressed with David Sharpe, Jylan Ware or Vadal Alexander. He is banking on Kolton Miller being the LT of the future and Parker being the RT of the future. Offensive tackle is not a sexy pick, but protection for Derek Carr, who has now suffered two major injuries in two seasons, is of the upmost importance.
For their final pick on day two, the Raiders made a bit of a splash by way of Arden Key, defensive end from LSU. Like with Parker, the Raiders also traded up to grab Key before another team could.
Key was once a highly sought after recruit who was considered a surefire top five pick. He did look like the player many thought he would at times while at LSU, but relatively average production for two out of his three seasons, off the field issues and poor effort led to an underwhelming collegiate career, and thus his fall to the third round in the draft.
Arden reportedly got as heavy as 270 pounds, and his play suffered greatly as a result. But by all accounts, he’s been working extremely hard to get into shape and measured in at a lean 238 pounds at the combine. He tested as a slightly above-average athlete in most areas, but only managed a 4.85 40-yard dash at his Pro Day.
His 2016 season, as a sophomore, is where Key really shined, posting 11 sacks and 12.5 TFL on the season. He was unblockable some games, and if the Raiders can get his version of him, he’ll be a steal.
Here are all of Arden Key’s sacks from when he was fully healthy in 2016. pic.twitter.com/y51LKQzhwJ
— Ryan McCrystal (@Ryan_McCrystal) April 3, 2018
LSU’s Arden Key is an absolute monster💯 pic.twitter.com/XUlgK5kFxX
— College Town™ (@CollegeT0wn) August 17, 2017
But there are plenty of off-field concerns to worry about, and he’ll have to stay disciplined with his conditioning. Bruce Irvin has already started to take Key under his wing though, so he’s in good hands.
@ardenkey we gon keep you away from the bullshit just b ready to work! Welcome to the town!
— Bruce Irvin (@BIrvin_WVU11) April 28, 2018
The picks fills a major need though. The Raiders need an immediate third pass rusher, and ironically enough in Bruce’s case, they’ll need a replacement #2 edge rusher likely as soon as the 2019 season.