With just 37 days remaining before the 2015 draft, it's time for our annual series: Pick or Pass?
In the next five weeks leading up to Round 1, we'll ask each of the staff writers for their thoughts on a number of draft prospects who are presumably in play at Oakland's No. 4 pick. Of course, this series is based on a number of assumptions, namely that Oakland remains in that draft slot. With a trade a viable option, however, that topic will receive its own post as we get closer to April 30.
We start with Clemson defensive end/outside linebacker Vic Beasley...
To be sure, defensive end is a major need for the Oakland Raiders and Beasley would provide an immediate upgrade at the position.
In 2014, Beasley logged 12 sacks, giving him 33 for his collegiate career at Clemson, but what worries me about Beasley is whether that production will carry over to the pros. In reading some reports that scouts have put out, Beasley relies almost exclusively on his speed and quickness (4.53 40-yard-dash with a 1.59 second split at 10 yards). As a result, he struggled against the run in college, begging the question about whether a player who isn't exactly "complete" is really worthy of the No. 4 pick.
There can be a case made that Vic Beasley is a top-five talent and is the best edge rusher in the 2015 NFL Draft. He had tremendous production at Clemson and amassed 33 sacks in only three seasons. At the NFL Scouting Combine, Beasley had a great showing and ran a 4.53 40-YD Dash and had a vertical jump of 41". He was a top performer in every event he participated in.
But the reason the Raiders should pass on Beasley is because of his size.
At 6'3" and 246 lbs, he projects as an outside linebacker and isn't big enough to play 4-3 defensive end. The Raiders already have two young and talented outside linebackers in Khalil Mack and Sio Moore, and where they need help is the defensive line, specifically defensive end.
There’s no question Beasley is Beastly (see what I did there? I’m sure I’m the first) and he could fill a big need at defensive end for the Raiders. If he is on the board when the Raiders select, he would be pretty tantalizing, though his recent rise into the top five was precipitated by his combine workout.
Prior to the combine, no one was talking about him in that range — it was all about Randy Gregory, Shane Ray, and Dante Fowler Jr as the best pass rushers. I’m not sure a strong combine is enough to drastically change the Raiders’ perception of him, and there’s a strong possibility there will be players on the board who the Raiders like more than Beasley.
Having watched my fair share of Clemson games over the last few seasons, I can say unequivocally that Vic Beasley is a monster. He was the undisputed leader of an underrated Clemson defense for the last two seasons, and kept Clemson in a lot of games last year that they ought to have been blown out in, as their offense was a dumpster fire after the departures of Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins.
Beasley is an explosive athlete with a non-stop motor and a good frame for his position. However, he does lack the strength to get off blocks consistently and he could stand to add more muscle. His spin move is deadly but under-utillized, as he prefers to rush the passer with his sheer athleticism rather than technique and hands movement. His speed rush has worked in the ACC, but against NFL tackles he will have to expand his repertoire.
The trouble with the Raiders picking Beasley is that he is best suited as a 3-4 OLB, of which the Raiders already have two in Sio Moore and Khalil Mack. If he were to play strictly 4-3 DE for Oakland it would ignore his greatest strength, which is rushing off the edge, and ask him to focus on shedding blocks and containing the rush, where he struggles. I love Beasley as a player and see him as a great fit for a team like Kansas City, Philadelphia, Baltimore or Atlanta, but he seems like a poor match for the Raiders at this time.