The 2018 NFL Draft is in the books for the Oakland Raiders. Clearly from the ratings (the highest in history), talk of the NFL’s demise has been greatly over-exaggerated.
There is plenty of excellent information here at Only 1 Nation about the Raiders 2018 draft class. Editor @NickHjeltness and writers @OaklandScout and @SethMurphyBBD have all done excellent breakdowns of various prospects since the draft which are definitely worth reading.
So then I won’t be going into minute detail about any of the picks, but this draft made a lot of news for the Raiders in a lot of ways. Let’s talk…
The Raiders 2018 Draft
What a draft it was. Chatter about NFL ratings being down and protests and politics hurting the product is just a bunch of nothing it would seem as more people watched this draft than any other in history.
The Raiders came in with a whopping 11 picks, including an astounding six sixth-round selections. Baker Mayfield was selected first overall, which was a tad surprising but not as surprising as the Browns then taking Denzel Ward at fourth.
This allowed the hated Broncos to grab Bradley Chubb – the top defensive talent in the draft. He makes a scary bookend for Von Miller and allows Shane Ray to roam a little more freely. Honestly the worst possible scenario for the Raiders at #5. With the Browns very high on their own young DEs they went with Ward to fill a bigger need.
Raider Nation favorite Roquan Smith was nabbed by the Bears at #8. Smith was routinely mocked to the Raiders since draft talk began. But as the draft neared he began climbing boards.
A special player with supreme football intelligence and instincts, it became clear he wasn’t lasting to ten. The Bears just confirmed it and, as they do, snagged themselves a potential star linebacker.
The Raiders were up at pick #10 – but then they did something very out of character for them in recent years. They traded back – and this screamed Jon Gruden. Reggie McKenzie has rarely traded within the same draft and never a high value first-round pick – more on Gruden and his immediate influence a little later.
The Raiders traded back with the Cardinals – who took QB Josh Rosen – for the #15 pick, plus a 3rd and 5th round pick. Many people – including owner Mark Davis – were unhappy with the mild haul the Raiders got in return.
“The only thing I will continue to harp on will be the compensation [The Raiders] got in the Kolton Miller trade. I heard from a league source that Mark Davis was unhappy with the return on the trade. Sources say he supported them trading back, he just expected them to get more in trading with a team in desperate need of Josh Rosen. The Raiders had the leverage.”
Seeing what the Saints gave up to the Packers to get Marcus Davenport at #14 cemented the feeling. But the trade was done and the Raiders had extra picks in a deep draft. Moving on.
The Raiders have multiple potential defensive cornerstones on the board. Tremaine Edmunds, Derwin James. So they take – OT Kolton Miller. A rumor leading up to the draft culminated in a nightmarish Tom Cable-influenced truth:
OAK turns down Derwin James, Harold Landry Josh Jackson… for Kolton Miller.
— Austin Gayle (@AustinGayle_PFF) April 27, 2018
The Raiders had Derwin James, one of the most talented players in the draft. And they have selected
He better be good
— Marcus Thompson (@ThompsonScribe) April 27, 2018
Rumor is that Tom Cable loves him, and influenced this pick. Great, as Cable has such a solid track record developing line…oh wait. He doesn’t.
Combine passing on potential star defensive players at positions of need with reaching for a project tackle and an O-line coach with a poor track record and you have an understandably frustrated fan base:
— Jessica Jones (@AlbertGIBrammer) April 27, 2018
"Anything but Kolton Miller, No Matter What"
— Harvey (@raider_Harvey) April 27, 2018
Miller is very tall at 6’8, but fairly slender at that height at 315 pounds. He tested off the charts at the combine and his athleticism shows up on tape – but too much at times, as he depends on it over proper technique often. He can get overpowered and has poor footwork at times that sets him back. The honest truth is that the tackle positions haven’t been good in two years, and right tackle always an issue. Donald Penn is in a domestic violence situation. Vadal Alexander is suspended. The position just got even needier.
Miller is a project but isn’t completely raw and Jim Mora said on NFL Network he’s imminently coachable and a great kid. Can only hope for the best, as the pick is in.
The Raiders began with the #41 pick in the second round, but rather than take Honor (Harold) Landry they decided to trade back again in the second round to the #57 pick. With it they nabbed – many critics say reached, again – DT P.J. Hall from FBS school Sam Houston State. Sure he’s a small school guy, but a lot of people were impressed with this pick:
Raiders fans are upset because they went small schoolers. PJ Hall is a fun player, with a high motor. B Parker is a solid OT. He is versatile too. Then you landed Arden Key he is a BEAST
— NFL Draft Diamonds (@DraftDiamonds) April 28, 2018
PJ Hall to the Raiders! 🔥
— Maliik (@Obee1ne) April 28, 2018
It’s because they love Hall’s energy, film and production. He is a non-stop berserker that plays with a relentlessness at D-line that just steals the breath and soul from opponents. While he played lower level competition he obliterated said competition and holds the FBS record for tackles for a loss (86.5). He also compiled 42 sacks and most impressively blocked an absurd FOURTEEN kicks in his career. Nice.
The Raiders made yet another trade in the third round, trading up to the first pick in the 3rd to nab another OT in Brandon Parker from North Carolina A&T. Another small-school project, many again wondered why with this pick – particularly trading up.
Parker is versatile and while his athletic numbers aren’t eye-popping, he’s a solid player with good technique – but he can struggle at times with higher-level competition and has a tendency to get overpowered. But with a large wingspan and good lower-body technique he has solid base to build upon.
Not many outside the war room were excited – or all that happy, honestly – with the Raiders first three picks. While Hall is exciting and OT is a need position the overwhelming feeling among critics and fans alike was that the Raiders had reached for players while passing up potential stars at positions of need.
Then, things got really fun and interesting.
The Raiders took one of the extra 3rd rounders they’d gained trading down in the 1st and 2nd to trade for WR Martavis Bryant. This is a high-risk trade as Bryant is a free agent after this year, is coming off multiple drug violation suspensions and had a very ugly time in the Pittsburgh locker room last season.
But he can still run by everyone and catch the ball, which is what the Raiders are counting on. Rather than draft a receiver with pick #89 they traded it for Bryant. Time will tell but adding him to Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson sounds pretty good in theory.
Then the Raiders traded back up into the end of the 3rd round, at pick #87, and grabbed LSU pass rusher Arden Key. This is another splash move and one that got rave reviews, as Key is considered to have first-round talent when his mind and body are right. By all accounts they are – meaning the Raiders could’ve nabbed a steal here:
Key has had some off-field issues and character concerns, ones he insists are long behind him. It’s all good, because Oakland’s big brother has already sent him a message:
@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
In the fourth round the Raiders finally grabbed some secondary help, snagging corner Nick Nelson out of Nebraska. Again considered a much higher talent (second round grades), Nelson slipped due to concerns over a torn meniscus. He should be ready for the start of training camp – though will miss rookie camp – and again, the Raiders appear to have gotten a steal here.
The clearly Gruden-driven draft kept the risk-reward train rolling by making the most boom-or-bust pick in the draft. The Raiders sent two picks (#159 and #185) acquired after earlier moving and shaking to the Colts for the #140th pick.
Then, they took Maurice Hurst Jr. DT, Michigan. This pick got a bit of a different reaction than most of the others:
The #Raiders took all day 3 value with their first 4 picks, then got a rd 3 player in Nick Nelson and my no. 9 overall player in Maurice Hurst. He's a star if he's healthy. @FB_FilmAnalysis is so happy right now. And he should be.
— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) April 28, 2018
The Raiders selected @mohurstjr
I forgive the rest of the draft.
My work here is done. pic.twitter.com/pMgszrwLBn
— Ted Nguyen (@FB_FilmAnalysis) April 28, 2018
Mo Hurst is gonna make 31 NFL GMs look really stupid in a few years
— Grant Newsome (@grant_newsome) April 28, 2018
The way I see the #Raiders draft:
Round 1 – Mo Hurst
Round 2 – Arden Key
Round 3 – Kolton Miller
Round 3 – Nick Nelson
Round 4 – P.J. Hall
Round 5 – Brandon Parker
Makes me feel a lot better about it lol
— Nick Hjeltness (@NickHjeltness) April 28, 2018
Oh, right. Hurst is the best defensive tackle in this draft and only fell out of the Top 10 because of concerns over a heart condition. At the moment he says he’s fine, and so do team doctors. He’s cleared to practice for rookie camp beginning May 4, and the Raiders may, just may, have gotten themselves a top-10 talent with the 140th pick in the draft.
The heart condition will be closely monitored, but trading acquired picks to move up and get a potential generational DT who is a very strong 290 pounds and can move like a Mantis in a phone booth is well worth it.
The Raiders also used a 5th round pick to nab their punter, Johnny Townsend of Florida. Townsend has absurd college numbers and is an impressive directional kicker. He also has a fiesty attitude and doesn’t shy from contact:
In case y’all didn’t see Johnny Townsend pancake the other day pic.twitter.com/hFvhDE1vLx
— Barstool Florida (@UFBarstool) September 25, 2017
Then the Raiders added his college kicking battery mate to the fold. Good old Steady Eddie isn’t bad himself:
Raiders undrafted K Eddy Pineiro can play.
Hit 17-of-18 FGs last year. Is a perfect 5-for-5 from 50+ in two seasons at Florida.
NFL site ranked him the No. 2 kicker in the draft class.
— Scott Bair (@BairNBCS) April 29, 2018
In the sixth round, where once they had six picks, the Raiders took LB Azeem Victor from Washington. Victor was a first-team PAC-12 performer in 2015, his sophomore year, but injuries and poor off field decisions derailed his senior season in particular and he found himself on the bench. Still, he does have talent and has shown it against high level competition, and he’s excited to be in Silver & Black:
Woke up & realized I’m a Raider! Still surreal to me. May the power of the of the Dark side be with me 😈 Can’t wait!!
— Azeem Victor (@AzeemVictor) April 29, 2018
About this time, the Raiders traded away the much maligned Jihad Ward to the Cowboys for receiver/returner Ryan Switzer. After being a healthy scratch much of 2017 and disappointing as a 2nd round pick in 2016, Ward was thought to have little value. Getting a young, dynamic slot receiver with electrifying punt return potential for a player who has done nothing in his career in Oakland is, again, a steal. The Raiders, after appearing to reach and flounder a bit the first two days, were killing it on day three.
The Raiders rounded out their draft with another potential steal, WR Marcell Ateman from Oklahoma State. Ateman is a big-bodied receiver at 6’5, 216 pounds and a major red-zone threat as a Cowboy in college. With 11 receivers currently on the roster it will be difficult climbing.
However after adding Bryan, Switzer and now Ateman, it’s likely the writing is on the wall for at least Seth Roberts and Johnny Holton. Stay tuned – a crowded receiver room will make for some stellar competition.
One other draft note of interest:
- The Chiefs traded up in the sixth round to select Khalil McKenzie, Reggie McKenzie’s son. They plan to move him to guard. When asked, Reggie said “I would’ve moved him to guard too.”
- Reggie also acknowledged that Raider legend Charles Woodson told him that Khalil “needs to retire before he puts on that hat.” Gotta love C-Wood.
In the end the Raiders got Hurst, Key, Martavis Bryant, Ryan Switzer, two new tackles, a corner with a ton of upside, a huge receiver who shouldn’t have still been available and an entirely new kicking battery and special teams core. Not a bad draft at all, honestly.
To be honest, not much else newsworthy happened in the past week. The Raiders signed the following UDFAs after the draft:
- Marcus Baugh, TE, Ohio State
- Eddie Pineiro, K, Florida
- Nick Washington, DB, Florida
- Nick Sharga, FB, Temple
- Saeed Blacknall, WR, Penn State
- Jason Cabinda, LB, Penn State
- Brandon Hodges, OL, Pitt
- Kishawn McClain, DB, North Texas
As you can see the Raiders are loving the Gators and Nittany Lions in this year’s class. But it’s interesting to note that of the UDFAs, only four are defensive players. Baugh, Cabinda and Washington are intriguing prospects to watch in early competition.
Now that the dust has settled and the Raiders have a full roster, look for some cuts in the next little while. Some players to watch out for due to FA/draft pickups, salary, and lack of production are:
- Shilique Calhoun, DE
- Giorgio Tavecchio, K
- Seth Roberts, WR
- Johnny Holton, WR
- Cory James, OLB
- Vadal Alexander, OT
- Donald Penn, OT
Those cuts should be coming soon. With Penn’s recent situation and Alexander’s suspension, they’d top the list at this point but I think the Raiders will be a bit prudent and wait and see how Miller, Parker, Hodges and incumbent Jylan Ware look before making any final decisions.
That’s going to do it for this week’s roundup – look for another one coming this weekend for all post-draft news. Remember, rookie mini-camp starts this Friday, May 4 and it should be a good one with all this potential top-flight talent coming in to work.
Make sure to check in with Only1Nation.com and follow @Only1Nation_ for all your Raider news and needs. With mini camps coming up roster cuts aren’t far behind, and there’s always news swirling around the Silver & Black.