Time for that knee-jerk draft grade. But before so many of you put out the "it's too soon to grade this class" comments, understand these grades are not based around any speculation about how good I think the player is but rather how well the Raiders worked the draft to get the best value and fill needs.
I am well aware you can't grade a draft class' talent level until a couple years down the road. But for now, let's delve into how the Raiders drafted this weekend.
1 (12) D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston
-- One could argue with this pick if they wanted to. The Raiders traded down nine spots to get him and they got minimum value for the trade. Some would say he wasn't the best cornerback on the board. I personally like Desmond Trufant much more and he impressed their coaches as the Senior Bowl. That same camp would say the team could have traded down even farther (and therefore picked up more additional picks) before drafting Hayden. On the flip side, we don't know if they had a willing team offering ample compensation to make another trade down. On the plus side, the Raiders appear to have gotten the player they wanted while getting back into the second round as well.
2 (42) Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
-- Coming into the second day of the draft, I had Watson as my top available prospect on the board for the Raiders. The Raiders agreed and took the big offensive tackle with the 42 pick they received in the deal to trade down with the Dolphins in the first round. Watson is a raw prospect, having played just three years of organized football and one season of division one football, but he was widely seen as a fringe first round offensive tackle. Proof of that was his being invited to New York to attend the draft. The NFL doesn't invite players to the draft who they are not certain will go in the first two rounds. That's just setting them up for embarrassment. The Raiders re-signed Khalif Barnes for another year so there is no rush to bring Watson up to speed. The Raiders needed to find Barnes' eventual (or immediate) replacement so this pick makes a lot of sense.
3 (66) Sio Moore, LB, UConn
-- This pick was an example of what Reggie McKenzie talks about when he says he drafts the best player available. After a strong postseason and combine, Moore was getting a lot of attention as a potential high round 2 pick. I had him pegged as possessing all the qualities the Raiders covet - especially his passion and locker room presence. However, I didn't think the Raiders would take him because he is considered a weakside linebacker and they are stacked on the weak side with Kevin Burnett and Miles Burris. On a team with so many needs, it didn't make sense to draft a player at one of their few strong positions. Moore has a swagger about him that will be a welcome addition to this team and has plenty of good tape and potential to upgrade the position, forcing the team to figure out how to get him on the field.
4 (112) Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
-- All signs point to Tyler Wilson not being the Raiders' first choice at quarterback in this draft. They came into the third day thinking QB with the likes of Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib, and Wilson still on the board and them with the third pick in the round. Then the Eagles shockingly jumped up and grabbed Barkley, immediately prompting the Raiders to trade down. Wilson was a consolation prize albeit not a bad one. He needs some work on his mechanics but he won't be expected to be the starter right away anyway and may not ever be expected to start depending on if Matt Flynn can hold onto the job. Rather funny though that Flynn goes to a second team in a row that then drafts a QB named Wilson in the mid-rounds. At least there was no Russell in his name because that has proven to be Flynn's undoing.
6 (172) Nick Kasa, TE, Colorado
-- This pick was not surprising per se but a little questionable. Kasa has only been a tight end for two seasons and put up decent numbers for just one season. He is seen as a blocking tight end who can catch the ball a little bit if need be. He can also play special teams very well.
6 (181) Latavius Murray, RB, Central Florida
-- After trading down again to pick up an extra round seven pick, the Raiders make their selection and make everyone say "Who?". This pick seemed very strange especially with the likes of Clemson RB Andre Ellington still on the board. Then you look at Murray's stats and his tape and start to wonder why no one had been talking about him. I watched about 10 seconds and said his large frame and upright running style is almost identical to that of Darren McFadden. Murray also ran an impressively fast 4.38 40-yard dash. I can only figure it was because he didn't play for a big time program that he went unnoticed, but it still seems odd. The Raiders desperately needed a running back and they got one.
6 (184) Mychal Rivera, TE, Tennessee
-- Great pick. Rivera is a pure pass-catching tight end and the Raiders get him exactly where I pegged they would. His blocking needs a lot of work but this pick makes the former tight end pick look a little more sensible. Now the Raiders have two pass-catching tight ends to compete and two blocking tight ends to compete. I think I know who will be the odd man out but we'll see how things shake out in camp.
6 (205) Stacy McGee, DT, Oklahoma
-- The most shocking pick in this draft. The Raiders must have thought very highly of his play on the field (the little of it we saw while he wasn't suspended) because his actions off the field have been among the most troubled of any prospect in the country. The Raiders keep preaching great character guys and this is a like they brought out Mr Hyde to make a selection. They found themselves desperate for a defensive tackle because they had passed on arguably their most desperate need in this draft until now. Best available player is all fine and good but when you find yourself in the late sixth round and not having addressed the biggest need on the team, forcing you to take a flyer on a player with this kind of baggage, you're in big trouble.
7 (209) Brice Butler, WR, San Diego State
-- Two picks in a row, we are left scrambling for answers. Butler was a USC transfer because he couldn't get on the field. He had one season at San Diego State and didn't put up great numbers there either. He finished second on the team in receiving behind tight end Gavin Escobar. In that regard, he'll fit right in with the Raiders receivers. They have all taken a backseat to the tight end during their tenures in Oakland. I understand it is the 7th round, but there were plenty of better options on the board on whom to take a chance. One such player was Elon wide receiver Aaron Mellette who by all accounts was very impressive in Senior Bowl practices. I guess Mellette must not have passed the character test (yet somehow Stacy McGee did. Go figure).
7 (233) David Bass, DE, Missouri Western
-- Just when you think the Raiders have gone off the reservation with their two previous head-scratchers, they grab a fantastic pick in David Bass. Bass was a mid-round prospect coming into this draft and the small school wonder has all the goods to be one of the biggest steals in this draft. Even if he eventually proves not to be greatness, he is still the exact type of player on whom teams should take a chance in the lower round. He dominated along the defensive line on a lower level of competition and deserves a shot to see if he can be dominant regardless of his competition.
Overall: The Raiders came into the draft with needs at a lot of position. First and foremost, they had needs at DT, DE, TE, FS, and CB. The only one of these positions they address before the sixth round was cornerback. They didn't address the safety position at all, even with players like Phillip Thomas staring at them in the face for much of the draft. When they grabbed their first defensive tackle, he comes with more baggage and character concerns than actual stats on the field of play. They didn't address the pathetic pass rush until the final pick in the draft. They ended up with 10 picks in the draft which was tied for fourth most in the league, some of which they got great value.