1. The Raiders' top three picks were all late risers on draft boards which leads me to believe it was word of the Raiders' interest that had Mike Mayock and others raising their grades. Do you think that was the case or do you think DJ Hayden, Menelik Watson, and Sio Moore have enough tape to back it up?
I'm not sure why Mayock moved Hayden to CB1, but I don't think he would say it's because he got wind of the Raiders' interest. We kept Milliner as the top cornerback. We didn't move Hayden up higher because we really liked some of the other cornerbacks this year and, while it's unlikely to happen again, that injury is scary.
With Moore, he rose because he helped himself quite a bit during the offseason process. He played at 229 pounds at Connecticut, so getting up to 245 was a big deal. There aren't too many successful 229-pound linebackers in the NFL. So to see him add that bulk and strength will be good for him.
The top three picks have good tape, but for Hayden and Watson, it's limited. Hayden played in just 22 games at Houston after transferring from a junior college, and didn't face a lot of top receivers. Watson played just a season at Florida State and enters the NFL as a much better run blocker than pass protector. Because those two had limited tape, you had to pay close attention to what was available. For Hayden, his game against Louisiana Tech and Quinton Patton was pored over. For Watson, it was his games against Florida and, to a lesser extent, Maryland. Moore was a pretty known commodity throughout the process.
2. What was your opinion/grade on Tyler Wilson prior to the draft?
I didn't have a grade on anyone, per se, prior to the draft. But the notion I had on Wilson is that he was very good in 2011 when he was surrounded by talent. In 2012, he got knocked around and his flaws were exposed a little bit. Chief among them, is that he often locked onto his first target and didn't move his eyes around the field. He also forced too many passes. Fortunately for Oakland, those are both coachable points.
3. Many, including myself, were surprised by the Raiders' late picks Latavius Murray, Stacy McGee, and Brice Butler. Were you scratching your head as much as we were?
If I'm being honest, those three picks did make me go back to my notes. Murray had a nice stretch in the middle of last season, but I really wanted to see him against Ohio State. Unfortunately, he was injured. Because of that, and because we didn't do a ton of work on Conference USA games last year, we didn't have much on Murray other than his impressive physical numbers. McGee we didn't do much on because he played very little last season. Butler got lost in the shuffle after transferring from Southern Cal to San Diego State. With all three, you just have to hope the Raiders scouting staff did their work and believe in the tape on them. Right now, though, they look like strange choices. But since they were sixth rounders, the risk is minimal.
4. I feel like defensive end David Bass, who was the Raiders' final pick of the draft (233) could prove to be their biggest steal. Do you agree, or would you pick someone else?
The pick of Bass was solid for a seventh rounder. I would rather a team snag a possible pass rusher in the seventh round than a practice squad offensive lineman. Those guys can be found in the undrafted pool, but a pass rusher usually isn't. Given the options available, the pick was fine. Bass had a lot of starts, which is a plus, and was productive, even if it was at a small school. The only thing I may have done differently is try to find a defensive tackle here, or even earlier. Oakland not picking a defensive tackle was one of the stranger developments of the draft.
5. Who is your favorite Raiders undrafted free agent signing(s)?
The (Adrian) Bushell signing stood out. We had him rated pretty highly from the start to the end of the season. He's not a shut down corner, but he plays with good instincts and can get a hand on the ball. He has a lot of what you look for in a nickel or dime corner. He's a sound tackler and could make some plays on special teams coverage. Conner Vernon has a real chance to make the roster as well. He's a productive, smart receiver.