It's all about adding solid potential prospects to the Raiders these days. They started that process by turning seven picks in the 2013 draft into 10 through a series of trades to pick up extra late round picks. Once the draft was done, it was time to woo some of the top undrafted free agents to Oakland.
If players and their agents are sensible, the Raiders UDFA harvest should be a plentiful one. There are few teams who have as few current active players or as many unsettled positions than the Raiders. Any smart player should have been excited to see 510 pop up on their cell phone once the draft was over because they would have a great shot at making the team.
The Raiders reeled 14 undrafted free agents in total. So, how did they do in the scheme of things? Here is how I saw it playing out:
Top rated talent:
Louisville CB Adrian Bushell >> Read his UDFA Player Profile
Duke WR Conner Vernon >> Read his UDFA Player Profile
The signings of Bushell and Vernon are the most widely praised among the Raiders UDFA class this year because both were considered draft worthy. I agree they were great signings, but the reality is even that doesn't mean they will make the team. After all, last year wide receivers Thomas Mayo and Derek Carrier dominated most discussion while it turned out to be Rod Streater who made the squad and is a damn fine receiver.
Boston College OT John Wetzel >> Read his UDFA Player Profile
Youngstown State OL Lamar Mady >> Read his UDFA Player Profile
Texas Tech OL Deveric Gallington >> Read his UDFA Player Profile
Idaho P Bobby Cowan >> Read his UDFA Player Profile
After spending one draft pick on the offensive line, they went after it hard with several potentially great signings in Wetzel, Mady, and Gallington. They uncovered a gem last year in Lucas Nix so it seems very possible they could do it again.
Signing a punter was a necessity to compete with Marquette King to replace All Pro Shane Lechler. Bobby Cowan becomes that guy. He and King will battle it out for the job and the Raiders should be in good shape regardless of who wins.
Most intriguing prospects:
Bemidji State TE Brian Leonhardt >> Read his UDFA Player Profile
Cal Poly RB Deonte Williams >> Read his UDFA Player Profile
The stories of Brian Leonhardt and Deonte Williams should have Raiders fans rooting for them to make the team. Leonhardt could prove to be the proverbial diamond in the rough and Williams is an Oakland native who is getting to suit up for the team he rooted for since he was a young kid. It is always a good idea to get players like these two in your camp.
Lehigh LB Billy Boyko >> Read his UDFA Player Profile
Wisconsin S Shelton Johnson >> Read his UDFA Player Profile
Rice WR Sam McGuffie >> Read his UDFA Player Profile
Eastern Washington QB Kyle Padron >> Read his UDFA Player Profile
Akron LS Adam Steiner >> Read his UDFA Player Profile
Wyoming DT Kurt Taufa'asau >> Read his UDFA Player Profile
The ones that got away:
Stanford LB Chase Thomas, Howard LB Keith Pough, Oklahoma S Tony Jefferson, Georgia DT Kwame Geathers, USC DE Wes Horton
It's a shame the team didn't bring in Chase Thomas. He was a dynamite linebacker for Jason Tarver while he was co-defensive coordinator at Stanford and there is a legitimate chance he could make this team with their lack of depth at strongside linebacker. Wes Horton is a California Native and would add some much needed competition in the pass rush. Jefferson and Geathers are simply good prospects at thin positions.
The Raiders could end up with a nice haul in undrafted free agency after all is said and done. ESPN's Bill Williamson thinks they have the best class in the AFC West. But, considering their circumstances, it seems as if it should have been even better. After not addressing the safety position in the draft, they continued to look past it in free agency. Or at very least, could not entice any top safeties to sign with them despite having no sure starter at free safety and no depth at strong safety. So, basically their undrafted free agency looks a lot like their draft - some potentially good players while neglecting some glaring need positions.
Overall the quality of the prospects the Raiders were able to bring in was very solid. It is a diverse group of big school underachievers, small school overachievers, and overlooked prospects. I expect to see two or three of them make this roster out of camp with a few more on the practice squad. That's typically considered a pretty good class, though I don't expect much of an immediate impact.