Northern Illinois vs. Utah State
This was a good game, definitely entertaining. There was some good talent coming into the game, and most of them actually lived up to or exceeded expectations. The QB play and RB play left a lot to be desired from both teams, in my opinion. That was a little surprising given the fact Northern Illinois was supposed to be this really great running team. Well, either way, let's get right into it.
Expected: This is what round the player is expected to be drafted.
Fit with the Raiders: Great Fit- We should actively look to pick up this player; Good Fit- Worth picking if no great fit players are available; Average Fit- If the conditions are right, worth giving a shot. Value has to be right because there is a decent possibility that they won't work out; Poor Fit- Only draft if this players is hands down the BPA and there's no other options available since there is a high probability they won't make the roster; Terrible Fit: Drafting this player would be a mistake as there's next to no chance they make the roster and would be a wasted pick.
Successful Draft Eligible Players
This section is for players going into the draft who had a bowl game worthy of mentioning. Expected UDFA's who make a great impression will be included. (For high profile players, footage from other games will also be taken into consideration).
1. Tyler Larsen- C Utah State
Larsen had a good game. He looked like he's ready to take things to the next level. As a center, he showed the kind of poise you'd want to see from a guy moving up to the pros. Whether it was a run play or a pass play, he had great instinct knowing who to block and when. He had a couple great plays when he knew exactly when to release a double team and pick up a blitzing linebacker. I only saw one mistake when he gave up on a play just a bit too soon and nearly gave up a sack because he didn't know the QB had worked his way back around to him. Overall he showed a great deal of promise in a wide variety of aspects. I don't think he particularly dominated anybody, but he showed the potential to turn into a good center.
#58 He had a good run block on Bishop. He beat Bishop one on one pass protection. Good reaction to the blitz. He gave up on the play at just the wrong time. He had great blocking but thought the play was over and Bishop got the partial sack. He uses his hands very well, looks strong. He picked up pressure perfectly and knocked the blitz on his ass. He created a great hole that opened up a huge run. He had another great run block.
Expected: 3rd round
Fit for the Raiders: Average fit. He shows everything you could want from a 3rd round draft pick. That being said, we have Wisniewski doing a great job at center and it would be hard to justify spending a 3rd round pick on a center. I know people are going to say "We could move Wis back to guard then!" I appreciate the idea, but it's not going to happen. Wisniewski is playing too well at the position for them to move him now. He's our center and that's just all there is to it. If Larsen falls into the 4th round though, then it starts to simply become a BPA proposition.
2. Jimmie Ward- SS Northern Illinois
Ward had a good game. He looks like a solid tackler for one thing. More than that though, he is a total ball hawk. He had a great interception this game when he didn't bite on a pump fake and just seamlessly jumped in front of the QB pass into the end zone. He did have one mistake this game when bit on a trick play. The WR got a good 15-20 yard down the field behind him (with no other defenders back there). He did recover quickly however, and by the time the ball thrower (not the QB, this was a trick play) realized his man down field, Ward had gotten there to break the pass up. He isn't a rushing safety, but minus that one moment of poor judgment, he does seem very reliable in the secondary. He had 95 tackles on the year, with 7 interceptions and 10 passes deflected. Impressive.
Expected: 4th round
Fit for the Raiders: Good fit. If he was expected to go higher, I would say this is a no go. Ward is expected to go in the 4th to 5th round though. A 5th round pick on Ward would be a solid decision; he could prove to be useful depth behind Branch.
3. Ken Bishop- DT Northern Illinois
He played really well this game. I sometimes say that a stat line doesn't tell the whole story, and this is one of those instances. That's pretty impressive since Bishop actually had a pretty good stat line. He had 5 total tackles this game with half a sack and an interception. You read that right, the DT had an interception. It was his second interception this year. Yeah. It wasn't just his stats that made him have a good game though. On numerous plays he nearly got sacks. One play, he blew right past the guard and the QB fell down rather than get hit by the big 308 pound DT. For some reason this doesn't count as a sack since the play ended before the DT hit him, but it might as well have been a sack. Another play, the QB thought he would run with it and Bishop put a big paw out, grabbed onto him, and the QB had to stretch himself out just to get back to the line of scrimmage. So needless to say, he had a great game. There's something more than that though I feel needs to be talked about. This guy is a 6'1" and weighs in at 308 pounds. Here comes the weird part. He isn't a power guy. On only one occasion did he put an OG on his ass. Most of the time, he didn't even get a lot of push. I'm sure Larsen probably played a part in that, but the truth was he didn't get a lot of strength push on any of the guys. Now here's the really weird part about it; he's confusingly quick. Throughout the game I kept going "wow he's quick". It really shined when he moved more towards a 5 tech spot on the line. He has good awareness and a real knack for finding the ball. Also, great motor. He will chase plays down and doesn't come out of the game much. On the year he had 70 tackles, 7 tackles for a loss 1.5 being sacks, 2 QB hurries, a pass deflection, and 2 interceptions.
Expected: 7th round
Fit for the Raiders: Great fit. I don't know how he fell to the 7th round, but we need to get on that. He's not NFL ready, and to be honest, I'm not even sure if DT is his true position. He looked like he could play the DE position better than DT... but he's 308 pound which is just really surprising. I don't know exactly what to make of him, but I do know that not drafting him seems like a mistake. There's talent and athleticism there, and I get the vibe he could be something special.
Players Falling Short
This section is for players who are expected to be drafted who did not live up to their expectations during the bowl game. This is based on draft expectations. (Expected UDFA won't be included).
1. Nevin Lawson- CB Utah State
I can't say I was impressed by Lawson this game. I didn't like his tackling. He didn't wrap up and used a "shoulder" tackle on more than one occasion. That isn't acceptable. Also, he nearly got a pass interference call against him. He got incredibly lucky that the linebacker had swatted the ball before it got there, negating the flag. He had an absolutely AWFUL attempt at jamming a receiver. The guy blew by him almost immediately and ended up getting a big gain. It was bad. On the year he had 4 interceptions, 57 total tackles, and 14 passes deflected.
Expected: 5-6th round
Fit for the Raiders: Terrible fit. He's not ready for the NFL. If it were one or two plays, fine. That wasn't the case though; this was an entire game full of poor technique and bad mistakes.
This section is for players who aren't in the 2014 draft, but showed up in the bowl game to make an impact. As a result, they may warrant being looked at down the line to see if they really do have the skills necessary.
I didn't see any underclassmen that really stood out this game. There were some guys that didn't look bad but nothing too stand out that I would take them under special consideration.