By Frank Almarez
The Oakland Raiders made some noise around the league this offseason with their free agent signings. Another impact player or two in this year’s draft could make the Raiders have a real chance of taking the AFC West title.
Round 1, Pick 14, Karl Joseph, Safety
The Raiders needed to fill the void left by Charles Woodson, and they hit picked the highest rated safety in the draft in Karl Joseph. Joseph is recovering from an ACL injury suffered in a non-contact drill but is expected to part take in training camp this summer. If Joseph can successfully transition his game to the NFL level, expect the Raiders to have one of the most dynamic secondaries in the league.
Round 2, Pick 44, Jihad Ward, DE
Mckenzie is taking another chance on a talented prospect with health concerns with the 44th overall pick in Jihad Ward. Some teams believe Ward needs arthroscopic knee surgery, but the Raiders do not think so. Similar to the Mario Edwards pick last year, Mckenzie believes Ward has a lot of upside for Oakland's defensive front.
Round 3, Pick 75, Shilique Calhoun, DE
The Raiders draft a high character prospect in Shilique Calhoun, who served as a team captain for Michigan State. Calhoun is a relentless pass rusher and can serve as Aldon Smith’s replacement until he completes his suspension.
Round 4, Pick 100, Connor Cook, QB
Arguably one of the most head-scratching pick in the NFL Draft, with the Raiders picking quarterback Connor Cook when backup signal-caller Matt McGloin is holding a second round tender. This is insurance pick for the future, and Mckenzie wants to instill competition for the backup position. With McGloin being an unrestricted agent after this season, the Raiders will have Cook serve as the primary backup.
Round 5, Pick 143, DeAndre Washington, RB
Washington is a change of pace back coming off consecutive 1000+ rush yards seasons and catching four touchdown passes. Washington is getting high praise from Mckenzie, and believes “he will help the team a lot.”
Round 6, Pick 194, Cory James, OLB
A four-year starter, Cory James is versatile and experienced in the linebackers position. James has the speed to keep up with receivers and tight ends but doesn't have the ideal size for the position.
Round 7, Pick 234, Vadal Alexander, OG
The Raiders pick a giant 6’5”, 326 pounds offensive lineman with the 234th pick in Vadal Alexander. He is a great fit in the Raiders power rushing offense that uses big bodies to push away defenders off the line of scrimmage. He has starting potential, and that is a great value this late in the draft.