To become a playoff team after years of struggle is an accomplishment in and of itself. As for the Oakland Raiders, to be one of the best teams in football is a different story. There has been a culture change in Oakland and the results are showing. They are growing through smart free agency moves and the NFL Draft. In fact, let us look at the Raiders 2017 draft and see how they graded out.
Gareon Conley – CB, Ohio State
This is somewhat of a puzzling pick considering the legal issues that have risen. If Conley somehow gets through the allegations of sexual assault, then this pick will be brilliant.
Conley is a big, long CB. He has outstanding press skills. However, he can also play zone. Additionally, he does not play with his hands. He uses his feet to get into position. If Conley can get thru the legal troubles, the Raiders filled a need with a talent for a long time.
Obi Melifonwu – S, Connecticut
When you see Melifonwu, your jaw hits the floor. He is a just a freak of nature. The 6’4” 224lb safety is nothing short of a beast. He has tremendous balls skills. For a man his size, he moves well. Melifonwu also loves to play near the LOS. Finally, he is a matchup nightmare for tight ends. The Raiders got themselves a good one here.
Eddie Vanderdoes – DT, UCLA
The Raiders went with a need here. However, he may be a bit of a reach in the third round. What is concerning is his weight and lack of burst. The Raiders are hoping to they can slim him down a bit in order for his speed and quickness to return. Hence, he is a project player.
David Sharpe – OT, Florida
The Oakland Raiders already one of the best, if not THE BEST line in football. Nevertheless, there is always room to add more beef. The 6’6” 343lb beast is very athletic for his size. The Raiders will more than likely work him on the right side. Seeing that this is their weaker side.
Marquel Lee – LB, Wake Forest
Another position of need. Although, there are not many for the Oakland Raiders at this time. Lee will add depth at the weakest position on the field, ILB. He may also be able to contribute immediately on special team unit.
Round Seven – From Arizona Cardinals through Chicago Bears
Shalom Luani – S, Washington State
Luani should be able to come in and add a value to the Raiders Special Team Unit. In fact, this could be his calling card in the NFL. In due time, he may earn a little work safety in the Oakland Raiders nickel packages.
Round Seven – From Cardinals
Jylan Ware – OT, Alabama State
Ware is a solid late round pick. As we expressed earlier, the Oakland Raiders have a solid offensive front. To add youth in the seventh round leaves no shame. Ware is young and still has plenty to learn. However, he does not learn on the job. The Raider will be able to take their time and mold him the right way.
Elijah Hood – RB, North Carolina
Somewhat of a surprising pick considering the backfield that exists in Oakland. Nonetheless, he could find his way on the Raiders final roster. He has tremendous power and loves to run downhill. If he has an impressive camp and preseason, he could make the final 53.
Round Seven – From Seattle Seahawks
Treyvon Hester – DT, Toledo
Hester is a player I had marked as a late round gem in this draft. In fact, he has the ability to shed blocks and makes quick tackles. In addition to shedding blocks, he also has quick hands. Therefore, he is able to get around blocks early. Consequently, he is a solid three-technique. Overall, he will make a good rotational player. He may originally find himself on the practice squad. However, his size and ability could get him some looks in camp.
The Oakland Raiders had few needs going into this draft. They drafted for depth at most positions. As a growing organization, this is what you like to see. If a couple of the late round picks pan out, the Raiders will find themselves a perennial playoff team for years to come.
Overall Grade – B