If there's one thing Reggie McKenzie can be counted on doing, it's finding small-school diamonds in the rough to compete for spots on the team. The Raiders went almost entirely Power 5 conferences for the draft itself, but one of the first guys announced to be signed as a Raiders free agent was James Cowser from FCS-level Southern Utah University.
In Cowser, the Raiders have one of the best players in FCS history. He was a dominant force at the FCS level and is the all-time FCS leader in sacks (42.5) and tackles for loss (80). Those gaudy numbers go along with the 294 total tackles he had in his college career. Had an SEC player racked up numbers like this, he'd be the first player taken overall.
When you pick a small-school guy who played against inferior competition, you want to see that guy dominate his level. That's exactly what you get with Cowser, who was the best player on the field virtually at all times.
The reason Cowser went to Southern Utah was that he was a late bloomer, playing defensive line in high school at around 200 pounds so he was lightly recruited. However, Cowser has packed on the muscle, coming in at a fit 248 pounds and standing 6'3". Those are perfect dimensions for a speed rusher off the edge.
As evidenced by his finishing first at the combine in the three-cone drill in his position group, Cowser has tremendous footwork and athleticism developed through years of playing both football and basketball. He is a team leader who is willing to play special teams to earn a roster spot. The Raiders have a glut of pass rushers, but Cowser is the sort of prospect who will find his way onto the roster through maturity and hard work.
Cowser was featured on NFL Network's show "Game Changers" alongside draftees Shaq Lawson, Robert Nkemdiche and fellow Raider Shilique Calhoun. Here is his segment on the show.
I personally have high hopes for James Cowser. I feel he will make a team somewhere, but hopefully the Raiders can find a spot for him. Players like Michael Strahan and Jared Allen were star pass-rushers from small schools as well, and Cowser seems like the sort of guy who would fit well with what the Raiders are building.