More Interesting Draft/UDFA Prospects

Here’s another batch of draft prospect with intriguing skill sets who project to go anywhere from the 4th round to being priority free agents in the upcoming NFL Draft.

First, let’s start with two prospects who have visits scheduled with the Raiders, indicating that they’re already on Davis’ and Cable’s radar, Russell Allen and Derek Cox. Then I'll talk about TE/H-Back Zach Miller, DE Jamaal Westerman, and DT Chris Baker.

Here’s another batch of draft prospect with intriguing skill sets who project to go anywhere from the 4th round to being priority free agents in the upcoming NFL Draft.

First, let’s start with two prospects who have visits scheduled with the Raiders, indicating that they’re already on Davis’ and Cable’s radar, Russell Allen and Derek Cox:

Russell Allen – LB – San Diego State

Height: 6’3"
Weight: 230


Al Davis has never been shy about drafting players out of smaller schools, and doing so brought rookie contributors Tyvon Branch, Trevor Scott, and Chaz Schilens to the Raiders last year. This year the Raiders are showing interest in San Diego State linebacker Russell Allen, having representation at his Pro Day and inviting him for a private workout in Alameda. Fans should recognize that the Raiders already showcase two Aztecs on the squad - Kirk Morrison and Chaz Schilens.

Allen started all four seasons and played in every game at San Diego State, posting 375 career tackles, 22.0 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, four recovered fumbles and three interceptions in 48 games. In 2008 alone Allen had 107 tackles and 9.5 tackles for loss. Due to his excellent production Allen received a number of accolades, and was nominated twice for the Dick Butkus Award. 

Despite all this, Allen was not invited to the NFL Combine. Instead, Allen had to impress scouts at the San Diego State Pro Day, and he did not disappoint.


40 Yrd Dash: 4.63
20 Yrd Dash: 2.66
10 Yrd Dash: 1.58

225 Lb. Bench Reps: 24
Vertical Jump: 33 1/2
Broad Jump: 09'10"
20 Yrd Shuttle: 4.34
3-Cone Drill: 7.21

Allen’s 40 time would have been good for 4th among all linebackers at the Combine, tied for 9th in the bench press, and in the middle of the pack for just about everything else.

Allen initially graded out as 7th round/priority free agent, but his draft stock has been climbing, so may be more in the 4th-6th round range. Having played both outside linebacker positions for the Aztecs he provides several options for teams. The Raiders may view him as an option for strongside linebacker.

Derek Cox – CB – William & Mary

Height: 6’1"
Weight: 182



Along with Russell Allen, David White reports that the Raiders have invited W&M cornerback Derek Cox to Alameda for a workout. I guess it Al Davis wouldn’t feel like he had done his due diligence if he heard that a CB from an obscure school put up these kinds of stats at his Pro Day.

 40 Yrd Dash: 4.38 (unofficial)

225 Lb. Bench Reps: 12
Vertical Jump: 36.5"
Broad Jump: 11’
20 Yrd Shuttle: 4.11

3-Cone Drill: 6.75

A four year player for W&M, Cox recorded 9 interceptions, several of which he took to the house. Cox also contributed on special teams, and had several punt returns for touchdowns during his tenure. Cox is likely a 7th round/UDFA prospect – the type of player that you can glad-hand a bit to make sure they sign with you once they fall out of the draft.

Moving on, here are a few more intriguing draft prospects.

Zach Miller – TE/H-Back – Nebraska-Ohama

Height: 6'4"

Weight: 233



Tight end Zach Miller has been a revelation for the Raiders in his first two years with the team. Who better then to pair him with as a TE partner than…..Zach Miller!

This Zach Miller was actually a QB in college, playing a spread option system at Nebraska-Omaha. His only experience with the TE position came in this year’s Cactus Bowl.

Here's what some of the media has had to say about Zach Miller:

Gil Brandt,

The one notable prospect was TE Zach Miller (6-4, 233 pounds). He ran a 4.53 and 4.54 in the 40, had a 37 ½-inch vertical jump, a 10-foot, 4-inch broad jump, a 4.22 short shuttle and a 7.06 three-cone drill. He was unable to lift because he tore a tendon in his hand, but he still excelled in the positional drills, catching the football. He reminds me of a Jay Novacek, Dallas Clark-type player.

 Rick Gosselin, The Dallas Morning News

No player has come farther on the 2009 draft board -- or has greater upside -- than Nebraska-Omaha tight end Zach Miller. Miller was recruited by Nebraska as an option quarterback in 2003 but when coach Frank Solich was fired after that season, Miller also left. He enrolled at Nebraska-Omaha in 2005 and wound up starting three seasons at quarterback. He rushed for 1,000 yards in 2006, passed for 1,000 yards in 2007, and passed and rushed for 1,000 yards apiece in 2008. He scored 18 touchdowns last season and finished up as UNO's all-time leading scorer with 50 TDs and 306 points. Miller was invited to play in the Cactus Bowl -- the post-season Division II all-star game -- but there was a catch. He was invited as a tight end, where NFL scouts thought he might have a future. After spending less than a month at the position and only one week of practice, Miller caught five passes for 116 yards in the Cactus Bowl. Miller was not invited to the scouting combine so NFL coaches and scouts flocked to his campus workout this month. He didn't disappoint. Miller put on 17 pounds from his college playing weight, bulking up to 233 for the change of position, and ran a 4.53 40-yard dash. He also flashed his athleticism with a vertical jump of 37 1/2 inches. None of the 19 tight ends invited to the combine could match his 40 or vertical. Scouts compare him to another Nebraska product with a similar build and athleticism -- Jay Novacek[.]

Miller is obviously a raw prospect, making him a late round project. Think a younger Matt Jones (hopefully without the love for the bugger sugar) that wouldn't cost a first round pick.

 Here’s a nice highlight video:


Jamaal Westerman – DE – Rutgers

Height: 6’2"

Weight: 257



Rutgers is starting to put together a pretty nice football program, and several Scarlet Knights that have come out have had an impact in the NFL – Ray Rice comes to mind. Defensive end Jamaal Westerman certainly isn’t a household name, but he had a pretty good career at Rutgers and showed off some pretty good athleticism at his Pro Day.

40 Yrd Dash: 4.78
20 Yrd Dash: 2.76
10 Yrd Dash: 1.60

225 Lb. Bench Reps: 20 (coming off a bicep injury)
Vertical Jump: 36 ½"
Broad Jump: 10'02"
20 Yrd Shuttle: 4.38
3-Cone Drill: 7.03

The 40 time would have been good for 7th at the Combine, the 3-cone good for 4th, the short shuttle tied for 4th, the vertical jump tied for 6th, and the broad jump 4th.

Westerman is obviously very athletic, but he also provided excellent production during his four years at Rutgers, playing in 50 games, making 141 tackles, 44.5 tackles for loss, and recording 26 sacks.

Here’s a nice article on Jamaal Westerman.

Westerman grades out as a 6th or 7th round pick, and could be a nice addition to the Raiders’ nickel pass rushers, especially after letting Kalimba Edwards walk in free agency.

Chris Baker – DT – Hampton

Height: 6’2"

Weight: 326 pounds

Cbaker_medium The Raiders need another big defensive nose tackle to put into the defensive line rotation if they hope to improve their run defense for 2009. If the Raiders are intent on addressing this need in the mid to late rounds, one person they may consider is Chris Baker. Baker is obviously a talented, if not raw, football player, but character concerns have pushed his draft stock down significantly. Still, DraftCountdown, WalterFootball, and others have Baker graded out higher than many of the other DT prospects we’ve discussed, including Sammie Lee Hill, Dorell Scott, Terrance Taylor, Terrance Knighton, etc.

 DraftCountdown Scouting Report

Excellent size and bulk...Long arms and big hands...Very athletic with good speed and quickness...Gets off the snap well...Stout at the point of attack...Shows the ability to take on and shed blockers...Gets good penetration...Offers positional and schematic  versatility...Productive.

Has run into trouble off-the-field and character is a concern...Average strength and power...Poor stamina...A questionable motor...Marginal instincts and awareness...Is not really a great pass rusher...Not fluid and his range is limited..Dominated a low level of competition in 2008.

Began his college career at Penn State...Redshirted in 2005...Worked as a reserve in 2006 before taking over a starting job in 2007...Was arrested twice in 2007 on felony charges in connection with two fights and ultimately dismissed from the Nittany Lion football team...Landed at Hampton and had a fantastic 2008 campaign as a defensive end in the Pirates 3-4 defense, earning 1st Team All-MEAC honors...Opted to enter the NFL Draft after his junior season...Some feel he is a good kid who just got embroiled in a couple of bad situations...Could project to defensive tackle or defensive end and can play in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme...Future looked very promising before his college career was derailed...Extremely talented player with the physical tools to excel at the pro level as long as he keep can his head on straight..Boom or Bust.

 At 6’2" and 326 pounds, Baker still managed to put up a 35.5" vertical jump, the best for all defensive tackles at the Combine, so that shows you how athletic he still is. Here’s a quick video of his Combine workout. He's obviously a boom or bust type prospect, but if the Raiders do their homework they may get an impact player at a much better value than a guy like Raji.







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