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Oakland Raiders 2017 NFL Draft Recap

Hello Raider nation,

Last season ended with a heart breaking injury to Derek Carr. It killed the post-season mood and was difficult for them to compete at a high level with Matt McGloin and Connor Cook. Despite the poor effort in post-season, it was the first time the Oakland Raiders made the playoffs since 2002. The upcoming 2017 season has high hopes for the Silver and Black. Derek Carr got a new mega contract, Marshawn Lynch came out of retirement to join the team and the organizations time in Oakland is coming to an end soon. Wouldn’t it just be magical if the Raiders can win one more championship for their soon to be old home? Of course, with championship type aspirations comes a roster needing to improve in certain areas. Let’s breakdown each selection and see how they’ll contribute to the team.

-1st Round, Pick #24: Gareon Conley – Cornerback (Ohio State)

  • The Oakland Raider’s noticed that their biggest weakness last year was their secondary. Gareon Conley was accused of sexual assault days before the 2017 NFL draft. Conley went on to plead his innocence and claim he wasn’t guilty. The Oakland Raiders clearly believed him and took him with their first round selection. Conley was overshadowed by former Ohio State teammate Marshon Lattimore during the draft process, but many scouts preferred Conley’s style of play and durability at the next level. Conley is a good man-to-man corner as his specialty is press coverage. I wasn’t as high as some of the scouts or experts around the league during the pre-draft process; however being a first round player and the Raiders lack of play-makers in the secondary, Gareon Conley will see his fair share of playing time this season. The ceiling is starting corner on the outside, whereas rock bottom this season is not playing at all due to poor play. Realistic expectations for Gareon Conley is getting as many reps as he’s allowed where ever they can put him and he might even see starting playing time in the nickel slot.

-2nd Round, Pick #56: Obi Melifonwu – Safety (Connecticut)

  • Mentioned earlier, the Raiders needed to upgrade their secondary and here they are with back to back selections trying to do just that. Obi Melifonwu was a hot commodity at the NFL combine with his outstanding performances. The kid is 6’4″ and ran a 4.40 dash along with a 44″ vertical. Can you say genetically gifted? At any point during training camp or pre-season if current starters Karl Joseph or Reggie Nelson slip up, Obi Melinfonwu will be right there waiting on their heels just waiting for his opportunity. He was a four year starter at Connecticut and that type of experience will benefit him making the transition to the next level. Melifonwu has the physical traits to be a straight up stud in this league and we’ll see if he can take advantage of his gifted talents to be one.

-3rd Round, Pick #88: Eddie Vanderdoes – Defensive Tackle (UCLA)

  • Looking at the Raiders roster they don’t have much depth or quality players at the defensive tackle position. They needed a serious upgrade and to add depth. Eddie Vanderdoes can play his way into a starting spot at defensive tackle. The current one, two starters are players that really haven’t contributed too much in their career thus far, so the door is wide open for anyone to take over the starting job(s). Vanderdoes suffered a torn ACL in 2015 and still seems to be recovering from it. I’m not going to crown this kid the starter quite yet, but he certainly can help make a difference at the brittle interior defensive line.

-4th Round, Pick #129: David Sharpe – Offensive Tackle (Florida)

  • The Oakland Raiders have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, so why are they drafting a tackle in the first four rounds? Well, Donald Penn is getting up there in age and has limited time remaining as a top left tackle and both Marshall Newhouse and Austin Howard are journeymen that will probably be with the time a short amount of time. David Sharpe can learn behind these three veteran players then eventually get a chance at a starting tackle spot down the road. The Raiders saw the results when they could protect Derek Carr and he had time to throw, so it makes perfect sense to keep their franchise quarterback safe in his pocket for years to come. David Sharpe has the size coaches like in a tackle, but he hasn’t always been a fluid mover or great at getting to the next level. Hopefully in the next couple to few years he can learn how to step up his game in order to earn that starting job.

-5th Round, Pick #168: Marquel Lee – Linebacker (Wake Forest)

  • The Raiders noticed that their defensive unit needed a renovation and their biggest need was arguably the linebacker position. Marquel Lee could compete for the starting middle linebacker job or the very least be a key contributor on special teams. Starter, back up or special teams personnel, Lee will benefit learning from Bruce Irvin and Jelani Jenkins. Current middle linebacker starter Cory James better be on high alert because there will be players after his job.

-7th Round, Pick #221: Shalom Luani – Safety (Washington State)

  • Shalom Luani is the first of four seventh round picks for the Oakland Raiders. Unless something drastic happens or Luani plays out of his mind in training camp and pre-season, it’s hard to mark this prospect on the final roster. The Raiders already have two solid established starters in Karl Joseph and Reggie Nelson while drafting Obi Melinfonwu in the second round. Assuming the Raiders keep four safeties on the roster, Luani is competing with three, maybe four guys for that final safety roster spot. We’ll have to keep a close eye out on this position battle during the month of August.

-7th Round, Pick #231: Jylan Ware – Offensive Tackle (Alabama State)

  • As stated earlier, Donald Penn is not getting any younger and Marshall Newhouse and Austin Howard are career journeymen. Jylan Ware will have a tall mountain to climb in order to make this roster, but if he shows promise and sticks around the practice squad he could have a shot making the final roster one day. His size will be his biggest benefactor at 6’8″ 295 lbs. We’ll see what happens with Jylan Ware down the road.

-7th Round, Pick #242: Elijah Hood – Running Back (North Carolina)

  • The Oakland Raiders have a crowded back field, but that doesn’t mean there is no room for Elijah Hood on the roster. Hood is a great player that runs through arm tackles with his physicality and is a tough man to bring down. Marshawn Lynch will be the starter for a short amount of time and Hood is the only other runner on the roster that fits Lynch’s style of play. Give Hood some time to refine his body to the NFL level and his niche will come in handy for this team.

-7th Round, Pick #244: Treyvon Hester – Defensive Tackle (Toledo)

  • This may have been the last seventh round selection the Raiders took in the draft, but he has the best chance to make the final roster. The defensive tackle position for the Raiders is very thin and do not have much depth behind the presumed starters. Treyvon Hester will benefit from a porous interior defensive line to take advantage of his opportunity. If he can make any sort of impact with his 300 pound body, Hester will find himself among the final 53 simply because the depth he brings to his position.

The Oakland Raider’s offense was on fire last year, but unfortunately blew its’ engine when the Carr went down with a flat tire. Derek Carr will come back healthy and strong this season to continue giving the city of Oakland hope for another championship before the Raiders departure. The team took notice of their defensive faults and addressed it with an overhaul of selections on that side of the ball in hopes of these players making an immediate impact to help this team reach their goal. We’ll see if the Raiders can live up to the hype or disappoint the fans another time, either way it’ll be an interesting story at seasons end. Until next time, have a great day.

-Austin Thomas


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