In light of the Oakland Raiders firing of Jack Del Rio and hiring of head coach Jon Gruden, speculation has circled around the Rooney Rule. This week, the NFL ruled that the team complied in interviewing minority coaches prior to the hiring of Gruden, who formerly coached the team from 1998-2001. Historically, the Raiders have been one of the NFL’s most groundbreaking franchises, from having the league’s first black head coach (Art Shell) to its first female CEO (Amy Trask). This extends to the field, where Oakland drafted 41 players from Historically Black Colleges and Universities since Al Davis took over in 1966. With an abundance of talent in this upcoming draft, the Raiders should keep the tradition going. Here are a few HBCU players that would fit well in Oakland.
Martez Carter – RB (Grambling)
It’s been a while since Grambling State received the national notoriety it deserved. When you have NFL-caliber talent, it’s only so long you can be ignored. With the explosion of Chicago Bears’ rookie running back Tarik Cohen, teams are looking to black colleges for unheralded skill players, and Martez Carter is the latest prospect in line to get drafted. With the body of Maurice Jones-Drew, Carter is shifty, and his low center of gravity makes him incredibly hard to tackle.
Carter has great patience, and his burst allows him to get out into open field in a snap of a finger. The issue with drafting Carter is, that the Raiders already have two change-of-pace backs on the roster. However, with new head coach Jon Gruden coming, the Raiders could very well opt for having a versatile background, as they did during Gruden’s original tenure between 1998-01. Carter may not be a feature back yet. Conversely, his abilities in the backfield and special teams skills may make him worth a pick. Especially considering the fact that the Raiders will have extra compensatory picks, Carter may very well be worth it.
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Brandon Parker – T (North Carolina A&T)
The Raiders have a dilemma on their hands regarding their offensive line for the immediate and distant future. Sure, Donald Penn will be returning from injury, but he will be 35 next season. Offseason acquisition Marshall Newhouse was a temporary band-aid for the right tackle wound, a band-aid that is nearly falling off. Last year, Oakland drafted tackle David Sharpe and signed Jylan Ware, with both far from starters. Brandon Parker didn’t give up a sack during his entire time at North Carolina A&T. Parker crept on the radar of many teams thanks to his solid footwork and technique. Also, he shows good speed and athleticism for a 300-pound man. Last season proved that the Raiders lack depth at the tackle position. With 2016 seventh-round pick Vadal Alexander continuing to underwhelm, Oakland needs help. Parker flashes great potential, possibly being a solid successor to Penn.
Ebenezer Ogundeko – DE (Tennessee State)
Thanks to compensatory picks for departed free agents, the Raiders will have upwards of 10 picks in this year’s draft. The extra picks give Oakland the opportunity to take some chances, and bolster certain lacking positions. The Raiders have one of the best defensive players in the league in edge rusher Khalil Mack, and a solid sidekick in Bruce Irvin. Backup James Cowser is a work in progress, and that’s about it in terms of edge talent. Ebenezer Ogundeko has good speed off the edge, with sound technique and a
nose for sniffing out the run. Ogundeko has the potential to be a Day-Three steal for Oakland, if his past doesn’t get in the way. Character issues caused Ogundeko to leave Clemson, transferring to Tennessee State in 2016. If General Manager Reggie McKenzie doesn’t mind giving him a chance, he gives the Raiders a solid rotation edge rusher.