Our football culture today wants instant analysis and so we, as the media, cater to the desires of the readers and offer instant grades and breakdowns of each and every player drafted every year.
Working over the weekend for Bleacher Report, I also provided grades of each player the Raiders drafted and if you are interested in the instant analysis I provided you can check it out here.
However, after another day of reflection, listening to GM Reggie McKenzie speak about why he chose players and further studying up on the players, themselves, I wanted to re-do my analysis to account for some of the additional information and thoughts.
Round 1, trade with Miami from No. 3 overall to No. 12 overall:
Miami has been crowing about this trade ever since it happened and I can understand why. They moved up 9 positions and paid a paltry sum in exchange, only the 42nd overall pick along with their first-round selection at 12.
If Raiders GM McKenzie can be believed, however, the Raiders were going to take DJ Hayden at No. 3 overall had they not received any trade offers and so the Raiders still got their guy and were able to get a second-round selection as a bonus.
Additionally, this draft was not “top-heavy” meaning there weren’t many great players at the top spots and the two that were widely considered to be the best, OTs Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel went first and second, respectively.
The laws of market value, of supply and demand, apply in the NFL draft as much as they do anywhere in the world and a lack-luster draft in which the best players have been taken already do not make for a valuable third-overall selection.
Finally, I was and am of the opinion that the Raiders had to trade down and pick up a second round if at all possible. Reggie McKenzie did this and, although he didn’t get with the trade value chart said was market value, he did get a high second round pick which is very valuable.
The grade for this trade should reflect all of the nuances of the situation and my initial grade did not. I have rectified this for the re-grade.
Further, the grade is very subjective, dependent largely on whether you believe that McKenzie was going to take Hayden at No. 3 or not. I do believe it, largely due to the rumors that circulated on Twitter in the half day before the draft that said that the Raiders were locked in on Hayden as their prized target.
Because those rumors do appear to have been accurate I believe McKenzie when he says he was set to take Hayden at No. 3 and therefore the trade is given a little extra weight on the Raiders side because they still got their targeted guy and the second in addition.
Initial grade: C
Round 1, Pick 12: DJ Hayden, CB, Houston
To be honest I did not like this pick at all, initially. My own review of Hayden’s tape had admittedly been a small sampling as I was prepping for the draft but I hadn’t come away impressed.
I also have an issue with taking cornerbacks high in the draft for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest is that even elite cornerbacks are unable to change the game like some other positions.
Consider the Raiders when Nnamdi Asomugha was on the team. He was a very solid man corner in his Oakland years and yet the Raiders were terrible on defense – even passing defense. Why?
Because as good as cornerbacks can be, they don’t effect enough of the field. In this era of spread offenses and multiple receiver sets, it’s not enough to be able to take away just one receiving option if the rest are not defended well.
I have always been of the mindset that if a team can provide great defensive line pressure on the quarterback, the effect is much greater because that pressure on the QB effects every other player on the offense.
The line must change how it blocks, they may have to keep a receiving option like a tight end or a running back into block instead of out on a route. If the defense can interrupt the QB’s timing it won’t matter how good the receivers are if the ball isn’t thrown well to them.
For all of these reasons I was skeptical about the pick. Then, on Friday as I was studying up more on the pick, I read this great piece on the role of the cornerback by Greg Cosell. http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nfl-shutdown-corner/cosell-cornering-market-152214975--nfl.html
In the piece, Cosell specifically discusses how much he liked Hayden on tape and says Hayden was his favorite cover corner in the draft.
He goes on to say that although Hayden lacks so called “prototypical size” that’s not necessarily a bad thing and he discusses how many of the best cornerbacks – he specifically uses Champ Bailey as an example – aren’t overly large but they possess light feet, good awareness, good closing burst and number of other traits that allow them to stay right with a receiver and be in a position to break up the ball or make an interception.
Finally, and in an extremely effective rebuttal to my points about why a cornerback is overrated to go so high, Cosell explains and gives an example about how a great man cornerback can change a game by allowing a defensive secondary to roll coverage away from his side, confident that he can cover on his own, and take away other areas like a seam route that a tight end will run.
Cosell thought highly enough of Hayden that he mocked Hayden to go No. 12 overall to Miami.
Taking into account the value of the position perhaps more correctly than I had before and understanding that McKenzie was not alone in his assessment of Hayden’s potential has affected the re-draft grade.
Initial Grade: B-
Round 2, Pick 10: Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
Initially, I really liked the Watson pick. He’s all potential with extremely good size, good speed, great athleticism and burst.
The more I thought about where he went, however, the less I liked his value. As I was putting together the Raiders post-draft depth chart I couldn’t honestly say that I thought that Watson would be able to start right away and usually that would be what you’d want from any player taken in, at least, the first two rounds.
Further, as I considered how he’ll fit on the team, it wasn’t really possible to say that he’d ever be able to start. It seems likely that he we will, of course, given his physical gifts. But this year? Next? Ever? Impossible to say. Watson has only been playing football for two years, after all.
On the other side, the Raiders took him right where nearly everyone projected him to go. Most projections had him going late first-round or early second-round so the Raiders got him right in lane with most talent evaluators. I want to weigh that, as well.
In my re-grade, I am not throwing out everyone’s evaluation of Watson but I am going a bit lower in my grade because of the reduced chances that he will be an instant impact player.
Initial Grade: B
Round 3, Pick 4: Sio Moore, LB, Connecticut
For years the Raiders drafted guys with great size and speed but who lacked football instincts. Moore is the antithesis of these picks. Moore is a football player, plain and simple, who doesn’t have elite size nor great speed but is able to use his instincts and discipline to be productive.
I liked the pick at the time I initially graded the pick and I like it, still, now. Moore gave a fun interview to the Bay Area media, he’s an outspoken guy and the Raiders can use more of those vocal leaders.
I look forward to seeing him in Silver & Black.
Initial Grade: B+
Round 4, Trade with Tampa Bay from No. 100 to No. 112 overall
The Raiders traded back 12 spots and picked up an extra Round 6 selection which they ended up turning into Latavius Murray.
Reggie McKenzie said that had several guys that he liked at that point which is why he was comfortable trading back.
Works for me.
Initial grade: didn't initially grade
Round 4, Pick 15: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
I liked this pick a lot, initially, and a little less so once I heard Reggie McKenzie talking about him. I think McKenzie probably was more interested in getting USC’s Matt Barkley (for whom the Eagles traded in front of the Raiders) but went with Wilson a bit further down in the draft.
I can’t blame McKenzie for not trading up to get Barkley and it’s not like he traded down while Barkley was still on the board only to watch him go, so I don’t downgrade the trade, either.
I really like Wilson’s intangibles and I think he can be a starting QB in the league, physically.
The long windup worry me but he has a couple of years to get his mechanics worked out if Flynn pans out, at all.
Boiling it down, I think Wilson is a risk worth taking in the fourth round – he has the upside to be a productive starter and there is little downside taking him there.
Initial Grade: A-
Round 6, trade with Tampa Bay from 3 to 15:
The Raiders pick up another seventh round selection with this. Again, I like the trade. A lot of teams discount seventh-round selections but some very helpful players can come from there. It’s hard to know who, exactly, but you’ll never find out if you don’t have picks in that round.
Initial Grade: didn’t make one
Round 6, pick 4: Nick Kasa, TE, Colorado
I liked this pick initially and an extra day’s consideration has not changed that.
The sixth round is all about potential because every player here has issues/weaknesses. Kasa has loads of potential.
I love his size, I like his physicality and I think he can be a force at tight end.
He is a raw player, however, and there is definitely risk in that. It’s hard to know if Kasa will ever develop to meet his potential. Still, this seems like a good roll of the dice.
Initial Grade: B-
Round 6, Pick 13: Latavius Murray, RB, Central Florida
I liked this pick then, I like it now. Very good risk/reward. Murray has the size and speed and college production to indicate he can transition to the NFL well.
If not, well, a lot of sixth round picks don’t pan out – again, they’re all about potential at that point.
Initial grade: B+
Round 6, Pick 16: Mychal Rivera, TE, Tennessee
I initially didn’t like this pick because Rivera isn’t a blocking tight end at all, basically. That hasn’t really changed for me at this point.
Having a receiving tight end is important on a team but if they are happy with a tight end that can’t block, why aren’t they happy with Ausberry, again?
I just don’t quite see the fit of Rivera on the team. For that reason, I don’t see the pick as having a good value, which drives the grade.
Initial Grade: C+
Round 6, Pick 37: Stacy McGee, DT, Oklahoma
McGee has the size and athleticism to be a good 3-tech. So why hasn’t he ever accomplished this in college?
Perhaps it as his immaturity – the same immaturity that drove him to do things like driving under a suspended license while intoxicated.
Perhaps he just isn’t able to put all of his talents together. There are lots of players that can’t, right, Vernon Gholston?
Whatever the reason, the pick doesn’t sit right with me – he’s a character-issue prospect that has also not been effective when on the field.
Still, his size and speed make him an interesting prospect and he does fit a position of need.
Initial Grade: D
Round 7, Pick 3: Brice Butler, WR, San Diego St
This was another puzzling pick because he seems to lack the bulk to be able to transition to the NFL. Still, it’s the seventh-round. At least he has a chance to make the squad because he has good height and good speed.
I have my doubts that he’ll be able to be at all effective in the NFL based on his slight build but he probably was worth a gamble to see if he can produce.
Initial Grade: C
Round 7, Pick 27: David Bass, DE, Missouri Western
I’ll admit that I have a slight bias towards small school prospects that make it to the NFL. Not only do I think they tend to do well because they’ve had to work hard to even get to the NFL, I, like everyone, likes a good underdog story.
I think Bass may end up being one of the steals of the draft.
He’s got good measureables, he had great production in college and he’s a hard worker. What more could you ask for at the end of the draft?
Initial Grade: B+
Overall draft grade
The Raiders found some good value with later round picks and I think that every single one of their picks has a chance to contibute eventually which is to McKenzie and company's credit.
On the downside, potential is frequently not realized, at least not immediately, as we've seen from 2012's draft class. There are a lot of picks in this class that are more potential than production. That worries me a bit.
While I don't know how many difference makers the Raiders got for 2013, I do think every pick has a chance to be good in the NFL. That makes this an above average draft no matter how you look at it.
I like that McKenzie didn't reach at all and instead let the draft come to him and, at times, moved down further in the draft to get more bodies for competition.
Intial Grade: I didn't do one
Currently I would give the draft a B+. If Hayden comes back strong (the only issue I see is Hayden not being as phyical because of the injury) this draft should deserve an 'A'. Personally I think people expect too much from the draft. I think if a team can pick up a starter in the first round, a solid backup / a player pushing for a start in the second and another solid backup / role player in the third a team has done well. And that is what McKenzie has done this year. Any player drafted fourth or lower (or as an undrafted Free Agent) who makes the team and contributes is a bonus in my books. This is why I have always been a fan of using lower round picks to trade up in the top 3 rounds as much as possible.
Overall I'd give the draft a B. I don't give Reggie a pass on the #1 trade and here's why. You say he did good because he was going to pick Hayden at 3 anyway. I say you'd have to be insane to waste a 3 on a CB unless he's the second coming of Mike Haynes. Hayden is a little too short and he hasn't played since a life threatening injury. Hey - he might BE the second coming of Mike Haynes - who knows? But that's the problem with considering him for the 3 slot - we don't know. And considering the shape of the Raiders - there were plenty of players that could make a bigger impact at the 3 spot. I would also add that Jeff Ireland is not exactly a genius or some great negotiator. If he got the best of Reggie - it brings into question Reggie's ability to manage personnel (again).
Sidebar: The author of the cornerback article is correct - a solid defense is going to have at least 1 guy who can play man coverage. Two guys who can play man will shut down any passing game - that's why Al always looked for those two guys he could put together... Willie Brown and Skip Thomas, Hayes and Haynes, Woodson and Allen. He tried it with Nnamdi and DeAngelo Hall and we found out Hall couldn't cover my mother in her sleep.
So far as the other picks - I like the 2nd round pick and disagree that all 2s have to be starters. If you can find a starter in that round - great. But I think the "experts" are wrong on that old wive's tale. I'd guess about half of 2nd rounders actually end up starting the first year. If they never start - bad pick. But they don't have to start immediately. This guy is big, fast and looks like he can be a force with a little polish (plus he went where everyone rated him). It's a bonus that he played at FSU and has been exposed to better players and the bigger stage - good solid pick imho. The rest seem reasonable enough to me - we picked up a couple extra players and a couple will probably stick. The exception would be McGee. We're supposed to be changing the culture - don't bring in problem guys when we just dumped McClain.
Glad we didn't get Barkley too. Come on - how many Trojans do we need to see implode before we accept the idea USC is not a quarterback school? It's like they have a school lab where they breed QBs destined to disappoint NFL fans...
Nice re grade....based on the fact that we had 5 picks when Reggie came last year (he traded to get the extra 7 and signed/did n't sign FA's to earn a compensatory and traded back 3 times) and came out with 10 makes this an A_to start......Gets day 1 starter in DJ, very possible that Watson starts over Holding Falsestart (Barnes) day one two. Be VERY surprised if Sio does not start....Wilson will add depth AND PUSH for a starting gig and I think with coaching (didnt have any last year...was a consideration for top pick b4 2012 season started) will become not only our starter, but better than Gannon in a year or two. He has the temperament but more skills. Reminds me of Stabler actually. The 2 TE;s will battle out for a starting gig and provide depth - awesome for round 6....Lataviyus just may make DMC expendable after this year and has Bush like beast qualities...worst pick was WR, like the Duke FA WR better....Bass can learn from Carter- sleeper pick and lastly, Stacy, the DT with a suspect background, he should know this is his last chance, which may be enough to get him focused to play all out and become at least a rotational DT. Got to be an A for this draft!