Oakland Raiders Draft 2017 - What to Expect from Reggie McKenzie

David Wilson – Apr 27, 2017

In a few hours we will find out who does what in the NFL Draft.

Now that Marshawn Lynch has finally signed with the Raiders, you can cross running back off the Raiders list of priority needs.

That doesn’t mean they won’t draft one late, it just means it isn’t a priority for 2017.

But outside of that, what can we expect from Reggie McKenzie over the three days of the draft?

Reggie has done five drafts now with the Raiders, and during that time we have had significant patterns emerge, which can lead us to make an educated guess as to exactly what positions and what players will be drafted.

Firstly, McKenzie generally doesn’t draft players with real character issues. He might take a flyer late on a prospect with limited personality issues in college, such as Stacey McGee (6th round) in 2013, or Shelby Harris (7th round) in 2014, but not in the first two days, and nothing major.

So straight away you can count out players like Dalvin Cook (and possibly Rueben Foster too), who come with off the field baggage.

Reggie (and Coach Del Rio) like a locker room full of players who love football, and that are hard workers & team players. Derek Carr and Khalil Mack exemplify this. Character means a huge amount to the front office in their selections, and they won’t want anyone upsetting the balance of a relentlessly positive group of players.

So again, you can count out players with work ethic issues, such as DT Malik McDowell from Michigan State.

Oakland has drafted a lot of players who have overcome significant personal adversity, such as Jon Feliciano (4th round in 2015), and Neiron Ball (5th round 2015). Feliciano was in poverty as a child with his Mother raising him in an abandoned house, and had to have ‘Forrest Gump’ type braces on his legs as a chils. Ball’s parents died when he was 10, following which he overcame brain surgery to be a successful college linebacker.

Players who stand out in this years draft in terms of work ethic and overcoming adversity are

James Connor – RB – Pittsburgh

Connor Harris – LB – Lindenwood

Ran Glasgow – DT – Michigan

Tanoh Kpassanon – DE - Villanova

It would not surprise me to see one or more of those players end up in Silver & Black come the end of the Draft.

You can also be sure that any players selected with injury issues have been thoroughly checked out, such as DJ Hayden (1st round 2013), and Jihad Ward (2nd round 2016).

Hayden had his failings, but they weren’t medical ones, despite some heavy criticism on draft day in the press. There was some talk in 2016 about Ward’s knee prior to the Raiders drafting him, but hasn’t been a problem thus far. I don’t profess that either of those two players are great selections, just that they were clean medically when Reggie drafted them despite media talk otherwise.

In terms of what Reggie looks for in position and skill set, he clearly wants a player who can impact the passing game with his first pick.

All the below players that represent his first round draft choices bear this out.

DJ Hayden (CB) 2013

Khalil Mack (OLB/DE) 2014

Amari Cooper (WR) 2015

Karl Joseph (S) 2016

It is likely then that he goes the same way in this draft, why is why as much as I like Zach Cunningham, he isn’t going to heavily impact the passing game so the Raiders don’t take him in round one.

Those players who he could take I would assess as follows

If Hasson Reddick were available at 24 (I don’t think he will be), then his elite athleticism in coverage (4.52 40), to go with his pass rushing ability (and all round excellent play across the board) would be enough for Reggie to take him. Reddick is an impact player. He remains a little bit of a risk, as he would be asked to play as an off the ball linebacker (whereas he played as an edge rusher at Temple), and though he showed very well at the Senior Bowl at that position, you still only have three practices and a game to judge him on.

That’s a small sample size.

Obi Meifonwu is a player who hasn’t really been linked to the Raiders but it could happen. His freakish physical talents (6’4”, 220lbs, 4.40 40, 44” vertical) give him limitless potential, and his ability to play safety or corner on any given play gives him the type of versatility that Jack Del Rio likes. He could destroy mismatches created by players like Travis Kelce or Julio Jones, and he really can cover that well.

I just don’t know whether he has the physicality JDR likes in his defensive players. Melifonwu lacks aggression or pop in his play, and while he is a safe, wrap up tackler who rarely misses, he doesn’t hit with the authority you would expect of a player of his size. He can be hesitant trusting his instincts, make him late getting over in deep coverage which could be a problem. The NFL might just be too much for him.

So, outside of Reddick, I believe cornerback is the way Reggie will likely go, and he plays his cards very close to his chest in terms of his draft board.

Tre’Davious White from LSU would be my pick if I had the card, but my feeling is that Kevin King from Washington will be the guy.

Another freaky athlete like Meifonwu, King is 6’3”, ran a 4.43 40, and had the best 3 cone drill of any player at the Combine. Unlike White, King tends to give up separation at times, but can run with any receiver or tight end regardless of size. He played safety his first two years at Washington, and has extensive experience in the slot, so again you have that versatility that Oakland loves.

White has steadily been creeping up draft boards in the pre draft process.

Gareon Conley was very much in the mix up until this week, but unless he gets cleared by draft day, he is likely dropping like a stone down draft boards.

The wild card is Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramczyk. He has been slipping in mock drafts of late and several I have seen have him available at 24. I think he is a top 15 guy, especially in a weak draft for tackles, and drafting him would bring a number of benefits.

Firstly he would complete the offensive line by becoming the day one starter at right tackle, and giving Oakland probably the best offensive line in the League.

Secondly, if Ramczyk were drafted, Oakland would likely released, clearing $3.6 million in cap space.

Lastly he would be the future left tackle when Donald Penn retires in the next 1 or two years, saving a major headache down the line

Outside of the first round, the draft will be totally position orientated, with Oakland having needs at ILB & DT primarily, but also needing a developmental left tackle and safety.

There are a number of run stopping defensive tackles projected in the later rounds, and I believe Reggie will take one there to replace Dan Williams. Run stoppers are easier to find that pass rushers, and so are available late.

The Raiders may not feel the need to take an interior pass rusher in this Draft (unless they get Tanoh Kpassanon, who they are reportedly very high on), due to the return of Mario Edwards Junior, who excels getting to the quarterback when healthy (as long as he can stay that way). You would also expect some development from rookies Jihad Ward and Darius Latham in their second years in terms of pass rush.

So of the eight selections they have, I am predicting a linebacker, two defensive backs, a defensive lineman (maybe two), a safety, a wide receiver, and an offensive tackle.

If the right running back slips into the 6th round or lower, that could go that way too.

Very soon, we will know.


Follow me @Linebacker41

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Who should the Raiders take with the 24th pick of the 2017 NFL Draft

Jarrad Davis - LB - Florida
Zach Cunningham - LB - Vanderbilt
Kevin King - CB - Washington
Tre'Davious White - CB - LSU
Chidobe Awuzie - CB - Colorado