When the Oakland Raiders selected Shilique Calhoun in 2016, they hoped he would blossom into a quality pass rusher. Since, Calhoun has not made the leap that Reggie McKenzie initially hoped for. Whether that onus falls solely upon Calhoun remains to be determined. Yet, one thing seems apparent: The Raiders do not appear as enamored with him. With Calhoun’s third season approaching, an evaluation seems in order.
As mentioned, the Raiders selected Calhoun in the third round. Normally, the struggle of third-round picks largely goes unnoticed. However, if you look down the selection table, plenty of plug-and play talent exists.
- Javon Hargrave (Steelers, Pick 89) Imagine a world where the Raiders actually employed a disruptive defensive tackle. Before the 2018 draft, the Raiders desperately tried to fill the interior with talent. Unfortunately, they failed to find a consistent inside force. Granted, Mario Edwards, Jr. flashes potential. However, injuries and consistency seem to always hinder any progress. On the other hand, Hargrave slid into the middle of the Steelers’ defense contributing immediately. In 25 career starts, Hargrave, as a 3-4 nose tackle collected 59 tackles and 4 sacks.
- Justin Simmons (Broncos, Pick 98) Despite selecting Karl Joseph 14th overall, the Raiders missed out of another potential starter. Simmons fell to Denver with the final pick of the third round. While not immediate, Simmons became the starter in 2017. With a knack for the big play and a nose for the ball, Simmons tallied four picks and nine passes defensed so far.
During his days at Michigan State, Calhoun played as a defensive ends. Yet, the Raiders decided to try him as a linebacker. Regardless of talent or skills, Calhoun abandoned the position that saw the Raiders draft him. Whatever Jack Del Rio and Ken Norton thought was a linebacker, resembled more of a lost player, scrambling to fit in. Still, sites list Calhoun as a strongside linebacker.
For Calhoun, 2018 could be his final shot with the Raiders. Although the team previously released him, this go-round feels permanent. With that said, the only thing saving Calhoun’s roster spot remains his ability to play special teams. Currently, any role in subpackages looks like a no-go. Under those circumstances, Calhoun could be in a fight for his job.
While Calhoun’s draft stock and position shifting were never his fault, this lack of playmaking needs rests with him. The Raiders need disruptors and game-changers. For now, Shilique Calhoun has not shown he could fill either of those roles.