Notre Dame vs. Rutgers
There was a lot of talent on the side of Notre Dame. Rutgers is my home team though, and I know that they aren't a terrible team. Take them lightly and they can make you pay for it. The game was tied up going into the half and while Notre Dame went on to win 29-16, it was certainly more competitive than Notre Dame probably thought it would be. There was some really good talent that the Raiders could be interested in, so let's get to 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. Bennett Jackson- CB Notre Dame
I have to give it to Jackson. Considering he was faced with the daunting task of covering Brandon Coleman, he didn't do a bad job. Yeah, he gave up some big catches and no, he's not a #1 cornerback. That being said, I was impressed with his aggression at the line. He had a great jam on Coleman. The QB decided to throw it anyway; big mistake. Jackson deflected the pass in the air and a teammate got the interception. He had a pass interference on a long play down the field, but he was clearly getting beat by the big Coleman. The PI probably saved the touchdown. He's also a pretty sure tackler even though he's not a very big guy. He had 5 solo tackles this game, 1 tackle for a loss, and that good deflection that caused the interception.
Expect: 6-7th round
Fit for the Raiders: Average fit. I honestly wouldn't mind gambling a 7th round pick on him if we haven't taken a CB in the draft already. He could be a decent role player in time. I think he could be a serviceable nickelback. If he fell to UDFA we should bring him in if for nothing else he could add something to our camp competition.
2. Brandon Coleman- WR Rutgers
Coleman is a big WR at 6'6" and 220 pounds. Oddly he had just 2 catches this game for 65 yards with a TD. His size is intimidating and it makes him hard to cover. Unfortunately, he doesn't have a very good QB throwing to him. Let me put it this way, his QB had a completion percentage at 35% and had 3 interceptions this game. Yeah, that's really bad. Sure, he's the backup QB, but their starting QB isn't much better. Coleman could end up being a very good WR, but he's at a school that simply doesn't have a decent offense. He's Mike Evans size but lacks a Johnny Manziel throwing him the ball. That's not to say he has the same talent as Evans, just that he might simply need a better offense to operate in. He drew a pass interference call on a long pass down the field for about 35 yards. He didn't have a terrible game, so I think he did what he had to do.
Expected: 3rd round
Fit for the Raiders: Poor fit. I like his size and his style. I think he could end up being pretty good. I don't think he fits with us, even at the 3rd round. I feel like we have our WR group already, and we just need a proper QB to help the young guys develop. We have too many other needs to spend a mid-round pick on him.
3. Zack Martin- OT (OG) Notre Dame
His first play of the game wasn't great, but after that, he didn't fail to impress. He's quick, he's got the ability to get down the field and run block, and he's strong enough where he doesn't get backed up into the QB. I really liked what I saw. He's playing OT right now, but he's a bit small for the position and most the draft prospectors all agree, he's going to be moved to OG when he's drafted. I agree with this sentiment. I think his skills would be perfect for guard, despite the fact he hasn't played the position yet. On multiple occasions he was able to put a guy on the ground and he rarely let a guy get by him despite spin moves and things of that nature. He showed real strength in run blocking. I like his footwork.
Expected: 1-2nd round
Fit for the Raiders: Great fit. There's a reason he's ranked as high as he is on the draft boards and displayed every bit of it during the bowl game. The fact he was playing OT as good as he was given his physical attributes, that's really impressive. The Raiders have a real need at guard, and Martin could provide a huge boost there. People have been calling for us to develop a great offensive line before we draft a franchise QB. Well, this guy is how you do that. If we were to add a RG in free agency, then put this guy Martin at left guard, we could have one of the better offensive lines in the NFL. Jared Veldheer at LT, Zack martin at LG, and Stefen Wisniewski at Center would make for a very formidable left side. Our right side could still use some help though with an injury plagued Watson and backup quality RG's like Brisiel. Free agency could help that. The truth is we aren't very far away from a great offensive line. If he falls to our second round pick, this is a given. You take him. Period.
4. Louis Nix- DT Notre Dame
Well, Nix lost his season when he went out with a torn meniscus in his left knee. So I had to go back and watch prior games. I checked out his play against Michigan earlier this season. There's a lot to like about Louis Nix. He's 6'3" and 357 pounds. He's a BIG guy. He's not lacking the strength that comes with that kind of size. Despite that, he's also pretty quick for a guy that size. He got double teamed often and with good reason. I loved how he used his hands to get inside. His high motor was another great feature of his play. That being said, there is some to be desired. I would have liked to see better tackling from him when he had the opportunity. Sometimes he made the incorrect move for the situation and paid for it. Sometimes he pushed up the field when he shouldn't have been over pursuing. Other times he seemed to go in the direction the offensive lineman wanted him to go, thinking he was getting inside when in reality he was opening a hole for the running back to run through. I love his ambition, but he has to play the correct role for the situation. I think that this will be less frequent with time as he learns the position under veteran guidance. There was some balance issues I saw, a couple times it landed him on the ground which needs to be addressed. It might have to do with his conditioning/distribution of weight. The biggest concern, as it always is, would be his injury. We need to see if he is still the same guy that he was before his surgery. We will have to wait to the combine/pro day for that one.
Expected: 1st round
Fit for the Raiders: Good fit. I'm on the fence here. I definitely like him, and I think we could use his skill set on the defensive line. I am worried about his injury though, as well as using our first round pick on him. We absolutely need to have a hit this first round. I think if he falls to our second round pick, we might have to take him though. If he falls to the third, I then become iffy about taking him because it probably means his injury has hurt his ability and he's not the same player. It's a tough situation, but on the bright side, at least I can say he's definitely worth keeping an eye on so there is that.
5. Chris Watt- OG Notre Dame
He's had two knee injuries this year, one of which kept him out of this bowl game. He's athletic but has technique issues which will be a problem against NFL caliber talent. He's a project player who is going to need to learn how to be more effective with pass protection and improve his ability to get right into proper stance. When he makes errors, they could be big ones as they are generally the type of missteps that allow a defender to get much better leverage or move right by him. When he's good he's good though.
Expected: 4th round
Fit for the Raiders: Good/average fit. I don't think I'd put a 4th round pick on him. I'd say beginning of the 5th or lower and he's worth gambling on. If we take Martin early, I think taking Watt later would be a decent move. His injury issues haven't seemed huge, as there wasn't anything major about them. I like the idea of drafting him in the 5th round if he's available as we could always use some depth at guard. (Anything is better than bringing Lucas Nix back right?).
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. Stephon Tuitt- DE Notre Dame
While he did have 1.5 sacks this game, overall he did not look good at all. His tackling wasn't very impressive and on one goal line stand he completely missed it and nearly gave up a TD run if it wasn't for his teammate getting the running backs leg for him to come up short. Tuitt was not taking good angles as a defensive end at all. Far too often he was getting way too far into the backfield and multiple occasions the QB merely took a step up into the pocket then broke a big run. As the announcer so eloquently put it, the Rutgers QB is "no Cam Newton", yet he had multiple big play runs and they all came off of these Tuitt bad angles. One was a 3rd down and 10 where Tuitt completely failed to set the edge allowing the QB to get into the open field. Tuitt is 6'7" and 322 pounds. He looks the part as he seemed VERY slow and lacked any sort of burst. I admit this isn't the first time I've seen Tuitt play this season, and I did expect this. This is not an isolated thing for Tuitt. He doesn't have the characteristics to be a good defensive end. He didn't even have the ideal overpowering strength considering his size. Multiple occasions a Rutgers lineman went one on one with him and kept him from getting any push. Rutgers doesn't have NFL caliber linemen either. Not to mention, he had a very stupid penalty against him for unsportsmanlike conduct. He completely freaked out on a Rutgers player and was bull rushing him; it took a couple teammates to hold him back. For a moment I wasn't sure if he would be thrown out of the game. It wouldn't be the first time that happened as earlier in the season he was thrown out of a game for such misconduct. He had 4 total tackles (3 assisted), with 1.5 sacks.
Expected: 1st round
Fit for the Raiders: Terrible fit. I can't stress this enough, we can't draft this guy. Before the bowl game I felt like he was a poor pick. Now I feel like he is an absolutely terrible pick. If anybody thinks Tuitt should come to the Raiders, they've either never watched Tuitt play, never watched the Raiders play, or both. Tuitt would be a terrible fit in our defensive system. Tuitt isn't even a good fit in the 3-4 at defensive end. He will eventually be moved to DT is my best guess. I don't think he will be particularly successful as a DT either though. I think we will play as a backup DT on some team and considering he's going in the first round, I think he's eventually going to be labeled a bust for whoever ends up drafting him.
2. Prince Shembo- OLB Notre Dame
Shembo didn't have a very good game. They used him as a rusher fairly often, but he had just half a sack this game. He didn't look very quick off the snap. While he obviously was quicker than Tuitt, he still lacked ideal speed and took some poor angles. He has a bunch of QB hurries this season (17) but from what I've seen he can't bring the QB down. Not very good tackling and his stats show for it. He's a linebacker with just 2 tackles this game and 48 total tackles all season. If you're new, that's not good. He has 5.5 sacks on the season, but given his obvious role as a pass rusher, that's not really all that good.
Expected: 4-5th round
Fit for the Raiders: Terrible fit. Shembo plays a rushing linebacker in the 3-4 and that obviously isn't a very good fit for us in general. The situation is made worse by the fact he isn't all that great at his job. For a guy who gets into the backfield as much as he does to have as little production he does, at the college level no less... not a good sign.
3. TJ Jones- WR Notre Dame
I didn't care for his play. His catches were wide open short throws, and he made some bad mistakes throughout the game as well. He had a miscommunication with the QB early. He went on to muff a punt which Rutgers recovered. That turned into 7 points. He had a short catch then just fell in open field. He had 5 catches for 66 yards but none of them were very impressive.
Expected: 6th round
Fit for the Raiders: Terrible fit. We don't have a spot on our WR chart for a guy who made as many mental mistakes as he did this game. There are simply too many options at WR for us to chance it on him.
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.
1. Steve Longa- LB Freshman Rutgers
Longa came into the game with more tackles than any freshman in the country with 101 tackles. You read that right, the entire country for freshmen. He added to that total with game with 12 total tackles, and a broken pass. He looked solid out there. So on the season he has 123 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss with 3 being sacks, 4 passes deflected, 2 QB hurries and 2 forced fumbles. The kid is just a freshman, so it will be very interesting to see how such a young talent develops.