Oakland Raiders: 2013 NFL Combine Showcase Risers
Brian Hughes – Feb 21, 2013
All throughout the Draft process and 2013 NFL Combine, lesser-known, small school and mid-tier players get the opportunity to improve their stock in front of NFL Scouts and personnel. Fortunately, the Oakland Raiders will have 5 assistant coaches and 1 scout to work along side these selected players at the 2013 NFL Combine from February 23rd-26th, held in Indianapolis. Here we take a look at a few of the invitees who could significantly bolster their draft position in February.
Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee (6'6", 214):
With the '13 NFL Draft lacking a Quarterback who has clearly separated himself from the class, the former Volunteer gunslinger, Tyler Bray, declared early and jumped at the chance for the NFL dream. Possessing an extremely live-arm, Bray is the most physically-gifted QB of the pack. Bray's ability to move up in the pocket, push the ball down-field and confidence in his arm, will leave an NFL team satisfied come April.
While Tyler's physical attributes are alluring, most GM's will question where the young man's head lies during the interview process. A lackadaisical type demeanor and a 2012 off-the-field incident may create some character concerns. Whereas, IF Bray can show off the velocity in his arm at the Combine, while proving to the NFL Scouts and front office personnel that his mind is in the right place, Tyler can bolster his draft selection into the early half of Day-2. And with Carson Palmer's over-compensated $13 Million salary and Terrelle Pryor's inexperienced self, Bray could quite possibly be an Oakland Raider target with their 3rd rounder.
Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida (5'11", 207):
Buried in the Gators Running Back depth chart for the bulk of collegiate career, Mike Gillislee finally got the opportunity to start for Florida this past season. When watching Mike you quickly notice his exceptional cutback ability complimented with vision to find creases in the line. More suited for a Zone-Blocking scheme, Gillislee maintains his balance through the lanes and is absolutely not afraid to lower head towards an incoming defender and fight for that extra yard.
Although having adequate pass-blocking abilities, most coaches would like to see him focus on his form after initial contact with rushers. He tends to go for the "knockout blow", and usually looses footing in process. Thus, he could have trouble with larger and quicker NFL-caliber talent. Like most college players, Gillislee needs to add necessary bulk for grueling professional style of play, yet at the same time needs prove added weight doesn't affect his overall burst. He needs to trust his off-hand and show more confidence when bouncing to outside. With a sub-4.5 forty yard dash and solid physical showing at the Combine, Mike Gillislee could find himself landing in the Top-100 selections. And with Mike Goodson hitting Free Agency and Darren McFadden only under contract for the 2013 season, Reggie McKenzie may be looking for backfield help.
Gavin Escobar, TE, San Diego State (6'6", 246):
The 2013 NFL Draft Tight End class may be the most enriched in talent and in depth in recent memory. I wouldn't be the least bit surprising to see 5 TE's selected within the first 75 picks. One of them may be in the former-SDSU Aztec Junior. Escobar is a well-balanced Tight End, using his arm length to his advantage. An effective run blocker on the edge and decisive route runner, Gavin is a natural pass catcher in a Tight End body. His ability to locate a ball at it's highest point and launch properly, is top-notch. It's difficult to believe he lasts past the 3rd round.
Still, coaches would like to see a quicker burst off the snap and to continue to use his hands fighting off defenders down-field on a consistent basis. Technique easily learned in the NFL ranks. Come February 23rd, Escobar needs to run under a 4.7 40 time. With the likes of Stanford's Zach Ertz, Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert and Cincinnati's Travis Kelce, Gavin needs to prove he can run stride for stride with others at his position. Though Tight End may not be the most glaring need for the Raiders, leading receiver Brandon Myers is scheduled to hit the market with no guarantee of returning. Escobar would be an in-line starter right away and great possible value in the 3rd round.
DeVonte Holloman, OLB, South Carolina, (6'2", 248):
Easily one of the most versatile defensive players in the '13 Draft, Holloman can line up literally at any Linebacker position in any defensive alignment, and succeed. More suited for 4-3 Weak Side Linebacker duties, Holloman's willingness and veracity to attack the edges coupled with fundamentally sound tackling angles, could quite possibly have his name called as early as the 2nd round.
While DeVonte does have an aggressive nature to his game, his first-step isn't overly explosive. He isn't nearly polished as a pass-rusher as he could be. More of a top-heavy prospect, the fluidity in Holloman's hip could expose him in coverage in the next level. But, with DeVonte's long arms, excelling in the Vertical Jump and running in the 4.58-4.62 range, could vastly improve his stock to NFL Scouts. WLB doesn't seem to be an high priority as is SLB for the Raiders, but with Phillip Wheeler a pending Free Agent, Holloman would be a vital compliment to Jason Tarver's multiple hybrid defense.
Robert Alford, CB, Southeast Louisiana (5'11", 187):
Without a doubt, the biggest "diamond in the rough" has to be Defensive Back, Robert Alford. A physical, confident, enriched Corner back who also has NFL quality return ability. Alford seems to be overzealous when pressing and jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage. Noticing Alford's ability to close on a ball in the hair is his most obvious trait, the "Tampa-2 " could be the best fit for him. He clearly has NFL-ball skills even though playing in weaker competition. Rising up Draft Boards quickly, the NFL 2013 Senior Corner back class is extremely deep, but Alford should still find himself with a team on Day-2.
Robert's medical does bring up some questions with an previously injured shoulder. He tends to go too high on ball carriers, forgetting technique and form, sometimes losing contain on the outside with bad angles on occasion. He needs to fill out frame quite a bit for the NFL, adding 6-8 pounds of muscle is critical. Running anything higher than a 4.49 shouldn't hurt stock much, but anything lower should help/maintain position. As far as a possible target and impact with the Oakland Raiders, Reggie McKenzie has always been a fan of small-school prospects in his days with Green Bay, and Alford is no different. With Michael Huff reportedly moving back to Free Safety, and only Philip Adams (an impending Restricted FA) with starter experience, one would suspect that Dennis Allen may feel the need that a CB of Robert's talent and nature will be most desired.
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