With the 2018 NFL Combine a memory, the Raiders turn their attention to free agency and the draft. However, some of the effect of the events in Indy will resonate. For this reason, FPC Raiders writers Anthony Zaragoza, Jordan Briskey, and Ray Aspuria gathered to discuss the Combine, draft, and free agency. Above all, Oakland needs talent everywhere on the roster.
Which two pro days are you looking forward to and why?
The two pro days that I am looking most forward to are Anthony Averett and Shaquem Griffin. Averett was part of the Alabama secondary that the new Raiders secondary coach Derrick Ansley hails from, if the Raiders were able to land one of the players that Ansley has recently coached, it might make for a perfect fit. Hopefully, Averett shows out and is available when the Raiders pick in the second round. Griffin is the feel-good story of the draft so far and seeing him demolish the combine was awesome, if he does well at his pro day as well, his stock will keep skyrocketing.
Georgia and USC
I want to see Roquan Smith perform on the field at his new weight. The 2017 Butkus Award winner had a hamstring issue after his first run at the combine, eliminating him from the field drills. Likewise, getting another side-by-side view of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb will be very helpful in the selection process. USC, due to thee of the amount of talent competing on their pro day. Ronald Jones, Rasheem Green, and Uchenna Nwosu are all options for Reggie McKenzie and Jon Gruden in rounds 2 and 3.
Vita Vea, DT, Washington
A hamstring injury ended his combine experience and the interest her lies on if he will even participate in pro day activities. He is spry for a big man and owns country strength. Would be great to see more of it on display.
Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
I do not understand wanting him to transition to wide receiver. Jackson can really sling the ball all over the yard and his accuracy is severely underrated. He will put on a show with his legs, but his arm is equally as impressive.
Which player, not invited to the Combine are you excited about?
Poona Ford, DT, Texas
Poona Ford is a plug in the middle. The 2017 All-Big 12 performer accounted for 8 TFL and 1.5 sacks last year. Solid game film and production from Ford in his four years at Texas. However, the big negative on Ford is his size. This will cause him to fall back towards the latter part of day 3. That is good value for a solid football player.
Poona Ford, DT, Texas
The diminutive tackle (by height only) kept Longhorn linebackers clean as a two-gap defender. Nevertheless, under 6-feet, Ford needs to transition into a penetrating rush-type defensive tackle.
Joe Ostman, DE, Central Michigan
In just 10 games, Ostman racked up 13 sacks and 19.5 tackles for lost this past season. He is not ideal at 6-foot-2, but he has a burst and nose for the ball that cannot be taught.
Ricky Jeune, the wide receiver from Georgia Tech was a surprise snub to me, especially with his production and the lack of so-called “star power” at the position in this year’s draft. He should boost his stock with a great pro day and will be a sleeper when the draft rolls around.
With free agency, if you were Raiders GM, how would you attack it?
Front to back. That means in the trenches and move out from there. Defensively, get Mo Wilkerson in the building if you can, ink NaVorro Bowman to a new deal, and get a cover corner be it Trumaine Johnson, Malcolm Butler or a slew of others.
Offensively, reinforce the right tackle position if you can, find a blocking tight end, and see if you can seize a wide receiver that can play both outside and in the slot.
If I were Big Reg, I would go about things a certain way, the draft is very light in the wide receiver department and heavy in the cornerback department. Therefore, I would try to snag a top-tier wide receiver in free agency and draft a cornerback. As well, try to get some help on the defensive line, as in Mohammed Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, or Dontari Poe, or save some cap and possibly go after Ndamukong Suh if he is a post June 1 cut.
Muhammad Wilkerson is visiting Green Bay first, but if the big man leaves Wisconsin, Reggie McKenzie needs to get him in Oakland. That solves two things for the Raiders new defense this off-season. It adds a plug in the middle for the new 4-3 defense, but also allows McKenzie the flexibility to not worry about that position in the draft. If you cannot add any impact players at the linebacker and corner positions, the next best thing is upfront. If you strike out on Wilkerson, Dontari Poe is a solid back up plan.