With the draft concluded, the Raiders begin their offseason program. As they attempt to incorporate new players into schemes, the draft remains fresh in mind. With that said, FPC Raiders writers, Chris Simmons, Ray Aspuria, Pete Camarillo, and Anthony Zaragoza sat down to review the 2018 Draft
Best draft pick and why?
If asked before the Donald Penn turbulence then the answer would easily be Hurst. If Hurst plays to his potential, the Raiders found the interior push Mack dreamed. However, in light of the Penn news and his potential status as cap relief cuts, Miller’s selection becomes more prudent. He may have been a reach but the Raiders could not wait to make a move if they were always uncomfortable with the vet operating the blind side.
Not the conventional answer. However, punter Johnny Townsend looks promising. Snagging the boomer in the fifth round allows Oakland to develop a successor to Marquette King at the fraction of the cost. Townsend has just a big of a kicking leg as King and he was the holder at Florida. Coincidentally, the Raiders signed the kicker he held for, Eddy Pineiro.
Maurice Hurst was the best pick. Anytime you get a first round talent at a position of need in round five, there is a reason to celebrate. Hurst should thrive in the Raiders 4-3 defense.
Round 5: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
Being able to get a talent like Maurice Hurst in the fifth round is phenomenal. Hurst not only addresses a great need for the Raiders on defense, but also gives them a potential starter for new Defensive Coordinator Paul Guenther this season (if his health checks out). Hurst was a beast at Michigan and had first round written all over him before his test results came back from the NFL Combine. Great pick for Jon Gruden and company.
Worst draft pick?
Round 3: Brandon Parker, T, North Carolina A&T
This has to do more with what was still available for the Raiders at #65 than Brandon Parker being a bad pick. Oakland addressed their need at tackle with their first pick, Kolton Miller from UCLA. Nevertheless, to double up in the third round with Parker, with other needs still on the team seemed odd. Players like Lorenzo Carter, Sam Hubbard, and Rasheem Green were still available that could have helped the pass rush that finished 24th in sacks last season.
Brandon Parker at the top of the third round. Yes, this was not a deep offensive tackle spot but the Raiders took Parker higher than most expected. Not to mention, the Raiders already drafted Kolton Miller in the draft. Moreover, the Raiders took David Sharpe in last year’s draft. What is Sharpe’s future with the team? How will Parker adjust from NC A&T to the NFL? Not to say Parker will not be a good player. Usually teams do not spend third round picks on developmental players. Not to mention, there were other prominent defensive players like Sam Hubbard, Malik Jefferson, Justin Reid, Rasheem Green, and Fred Warner who made sense with this pick. Ultimately, this pick just provides more questions than answers.
Linebacker Azeem Victor in the sixth round. Victor is not a bad prospect; however, based on his senior year inconsistency at Washington, the Raiders could have waited until after the draft to snag Victor. Mediocre speed, but a thumper, Victor will start his NFL career on special teams and may not develop into anything more. Even on a Raiders team devoid of depth at inside LB.
Azeem Victor was a tough pick to swallow because he does not project to start anywhere on the second level. While it is certainly fair to use the later rounds on projects and depth, the second level of the defense is still lacking talent. This was a part of the draft that would have been perfect to maybe aim for a high ceiling player that is not victor. He will be a special teams player and likely nothing more.
Other than Donald Penn, player in the most jeopardy of losing their job?
Kicker Giorgio Tavecchio. Undrafted free agent Eddy Pineiro showed off his powerful leg at Florida and is accurate, both traits Tavecchio exhibit. A true competition will bring out the best in both, but where Pineiro has the leg up is holder. Rookie punter Johnny Townsend held his field goals at Florida. The chemistry and synergy is already there.
Eddie Vanderdoes and Mario Edwards have to be sweating the two Defensive Tackle selections. Both players have been inconsistent at best with questionable motors and lacking refinement. Hurst should start right away and push EV into a rotational role whereas MEJ has a better chance to keeping his job.
Mario Edwards Jr.
The Raiders drafted the controversial but super talented pass rusher Arden Key from LSU. If you watched the former Tigers game film from 2016, it is easy to see why he has a great chance at starting for Oakland this season. Mario Edwards is the de facto starter opposite Khalil Mack, after the departure of Denico Autry and trade of Jihad Ward. With how Edwards played last season, it will not take much for Key to take over as starter.
MEJ is on notice once again. He will have his spot at three technique challenged by rookies PJ Hall and Maurice Hurst. He cannot move to the edge again either since the Raiders took edge Arden Key who will challenge the starting end opposite Mack.
Player that you wish Oakland drafted and why?
The Raiders had a chance to get great value in the second round. They traded down and lost a chance at first round defensive talent like Josh Jackson and Harold Landry that would have filled needs. However, they still had a chance to get an explosive, physical, and balanced runner at No. 57. The Raiders passed on Derrius Guice who would have been the heir to Marshawn Lynch in Oakland both on and off the field. Guice went at 59 despite being the consensus No. 2 running back in his class.
Cornerback Holton Hill. The Raiders showed in this draft they had no qualms about taking “risky” players. Hill is both big and fast and fits the bill as an aggressive corner who challenges receivers and make plays on the ball. He landed an UDFA deal with the Minnesota Vikings. Raiders’ defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s mentor Mike Zimmer coaches the Vikes.
He was not on the board at the time but if the Raiders has given up real weight to get Roquan Smith it would have been worth it. Smith is the total package in terms of smarts, athleticism, and technique. He would not have been a pass rushing menace but would be the first to the ball and the cleanup hitter.
Derwin James, S, Florida State
I think Kolton Miller has the chance to be a solid starter at tackle for years to come. Nevertheless, when you the opportunity to draft a player of Derwin James caliber, you run up to the podium and make the pick. The Raiders do have Karl Joseph, Obi Melifonwu, and Reggie Nelson at safety this season. Unfortunately, these players are not on the same level as James. What makes matters worse, a division rival (Los Angeles Chargers) selected the former Seminole two picks later.