The Raiders opened the third round of the 2018 draft as equally inauspicious as they did in the first round. The difference was that for this pick, Oakland moved back up to grab Offensive Tackle prospect Brandon Parker. By this point, it had become clear that the Raiders were going to be looking to add at least one more prospect at the position. Between departures, injuries, and age the Left Tackle spot has been on the to-do-list and Right Tackle has been an Achilles heel to an otherwise stout line. With the Raiders taking an OT in the first round many Raider fans were confused why the front office would want to double down. In truth though, the tackle position is one where most teams would rather replace aging, injures players through the draft, and avoid the premium on the open market.
Brandon Parker as a prospect in many ways is a microcosm for the Raiders drafting “Grand Strategy”. Parker is not by any means a finished product but he certainly has the physical attributes to start on either side of the line. At 6’8” and over 300lbs, he is an absolute mountain of a human being and while he certainly was not the best athlete at his position, he has the movement skills to stay in front of pass rushers. His technique however is going to take much more time to develop and he may even be a “red shirt” candidate or even show up as an extra tight end.
More than anything his selection represents a clear opening of all positions to competition from everywhere on the roster. It also speaks to how Jon Gruden, and probably Tom Cable, view the current OT depth chart. Donald Penn appears safe, even with his $8 Million 2018 cap hit. Yet, unless he has a stellar season, this seems like his last go around with the Silver and Black. Either Parker or Miller will replace him.
Arden Key – R3 Pick 87
Many Raiders fans, by the middle of the third round, were now scratching their heads in confusion. Where was all of the defensive help they were promised? Sure Roquan Smith was off the board at 10, and sure OT is/was a major position of need for both starters and depth. However, what would it matter if every game the defense would bleed 30 points. With the 87th pick, the Raiders selected their second defensive player of the day. Arden Key does not lack for talent,but off-the-field issues that have landed him in rehab and suspended. Yet for his concerns, if his full attention can be corralled, Key he could factor on third down.
Arden Key did not have a very good pre-draft process. He did not exactly blow the top off the physical combine and struggled in interviews. To his credit, he owned his issues. Furthermore. Key more or less admitted that some of his injures began from a lack of time put into maintaining his body. He is also now the second player the Raiders have added in the last two days that has substance control concerns. Although he has no strikes in the NFL, it bears watching.
Complicating the pick even further is that Key’s best season was a full two seasons ago. Also, some of his technique is a bit lacking in refinement or consistency. Having said that, Key has great pass rushing potential and has already begun to convert that potential into tangible production. He has the LSU single season sack record (12) and posted over 20 tackles-for-loss during his career. In many ways Key, is a better football player than he is athlete.
Additionally, it should be noted that he is by no means a coverage player. As a result, Key will likely begin his career as a rotational pass rusher. He is likely the heir-apparent to Bruce Irvin in a season or two. However, with first round upside he could eventually start pushing for snaps. Ultimately, Key is another gamble. The new regime seems to rely on its capacity to teach football and life lessons. If he eventually cranks out 5-8 sack seasons then this pick will be well worth it.