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Raiders 2016 Draft Pick or Pass: CB's Mackensie Alexander, Eli Apple, William Jackson III

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With so many players in play at No. 14, the third installment of our "Pick or Pass" series will feature three cornerbacks that could catch Reggie McKenzie's eye to play alongside Sean Smith and David Amerson.

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This series was so much easier when Oakland picked inside the top 5. Now, with 13 wild cards selecting in front of the Raiders, the number of players mocked to Oakland seems astronomical.

With that in mind, this piece will evaluate all three cornerbacks in play (surely there are even more than these three) and ask our writers who they'd prefer or be okay with. In looking at our Mock Draft Database, Ian Rappaport's latest mock has Oakland picking William Jackson III out of Houston, Mel Kiper's latest mock has Eli Apple from Ohio State heading to Oakland and MockingTheDraft has Oakland selecting Mackensie Alexander from Clemson.

So, which of these three dynamic (and very different) corners do our writers think are a good fit in Oakland?

Jeff Spiegel

I've said it for the past few years and even the signing of Sean Smith and the emergence of David Amerson won't change my tune: draft more corners.

If there's a position you can never have enough of, it must be cornerback. For starters, they're expensive once they hit the open market, so the more you can lock up on rookie deals, the better. Secondly, with the way offenses are spreading out nowadays, two good corners just won't cut it against the best teams in the league.

With that in mind, I'd honestly be okay drafting any of these three at No. 14.

Let's start with Apple. The thing to love about Apple is his size — at 6'1" and 200 pounds, Apple is Ken Norton Jr.'s ideal cornerback. On the flip side, the biggest concern to me that I've read about is his propensity to commit penalties. Over and over again I've read that he struggles to turn around and find the ball, and that he was flagged for four holding penalties and seven pass interference penalties just last season. Of the three, I think Apple would be third on my list — under the assumption that if drafted McKenzie sees him as more than a project.

Next up is Alexander, ranked the lowest of the three most places. For many, the concern is the number "0" — as in, the number of interceptions he recorded in two seasons at Clemson. With that said, I watched Alexander in his bowl game and couldn't help but notice his swagger and confidence while shutting down Sterling Shepherd of Oklahoma.

Finally, we have Jackson III — the scariest of the three because of his school: Houston. While it's unfair to punish Jackson for going to the same school as Oakland cornerback bust DJ Hayden, it's impossible to assume that the thought won't be in the back of Reggie McKenzie's mind. Playing against lesser competition than Apple and Alexander, Jackson led the league in passes defended (but was flagged seven times). Some scouts think Jackson is the best of this bunch, and if that's the case, he sounds pretty good to me.

Verdict: Alexander: PICK, Apple: PICK, Jackson: PICK

Tyler Green

After the signing of Sean Smith, I wrote an article explaining why the Raiders are the most talented they have been at the cornerback position since 2006. That being said, the percentage of plays in NFL games with five defensive backs or more on the field has increased in every season since 2008 rising from 43.4% to 63.4%. While the Raiders will not be forced to draft a cornerback with Smith, Amerson, and Carrie, the addition of another talented cornerback would give the Raiders more depth at a position that is gaining value every year.

Since cornerback is not nearly as big a need as it was before free agency began, the Raiders have the flexibility to pass on the position if there is no cornerback available that would justify the 14th overall pick. Of these three cornerbacks, Mackensie Alexander is the one I think the Raiders should select. At 5'10", Alexander is on the smaller spectrum for cornerbacks and does not fit the protoypical mold Reggie McKenzie prefers. But he can flat out play and teams avoided throwing to him throughout his career at Clemson. Alexander also is a very smart football player, this was shown in his combine interview when he gave a detailed explanation of how he would cover Laquon Treadwell and Will Fuller. Alexander had the opportunity to play against top talent every day in practice as Clemson was stacked at wide receiver (Sammy Watkins, Martavis Bryant, Mike Thomas) in his time there.

Eli Apple is an interesting prospect as he has impressive agility for his size (6'1", 200 lbs). He fits the mold that the Raiders sought after in their cornerbacks. The biggest red flag that comes with Apple is his poor ball skills. The NFL is continually increasing penalties for pass interference and Apple will struggle with these calls unless he changed his style of play. While his ceiling may be higher than Mackensie Alexander's, he is still too raw for me to select him at 14 overall.

William Jackson III is another cornerback that boasts excellent height (6'0"). Unlike Eli Apple, Jackson shows great ball skills and is excellent at tracking the football in the air. But his lack of physicality and tight hips push him down to the second round for me.

Verdict: Alexander: PICK, Apple: PASS, Jackson: PASS


While the Raiders have solid starters across the board in the secondary, they are in need of depth and could always use more playmakers. The three corners we're featuring today would definitely qualify as that.

Mackensie Alexander is a guy I really like a lot. Sure he doesn't have any picks, but just watch him play. He is totally confident in his abilities and has a big mouth, but he backs up his trash talk. He sticks to his man like white on rice and is about as pure a lockdown cover guy as you will find. He's a little on the small side but his aggressiveness makes up for it. I prefer Vernon Hargreaves as a corner, and I think we can trade down and still get Alexander, but I would not be displeased with a PICK.

First, Eli Apple. I'm not really a fan of this guy. A lot of mocks have him going to the Raiders, but I just don't see it. He's a bigger guy at 6'1", but he doesn't play like it. He holds all the time, he doesn't use his feet and I don't trust his ability to play on an island. He isn't the kind of lockdown guy the Raiders would be looking for at 14. PASS

Finally, William Jackson III. Now here is the sort of physical presence you want to see in a Ken Norton cornerback. He's six feet and runs a 4.3 40. He has tremendous ball skills but doesn't play with the aggressiveness you want to see, as he lets himself get blocked and knocked off the line. He also has a tendency to draw penalties. He can cover and play the ball very well and he can run with any receiver, but it's everything else that concerns me. I wouldn't take him at 14, but if Oakland traded down into the 20s I could see the value there. PASS.

Verdict: Alexander: PICK, Apple: PASS, Jackson III: PASS

Levi Damien

My opinion of the Raiders as it relates to the corners in this draft has long been if Vernon Hargreaves III is there, take him. If not, look elsewhere. Most accounts say Hargreaves will not be there when the Raiders pick, although Mel Kiper's latest mock had the Raiders taking him at 14. The Raiders have their starters in place in David Amerson and Sean Smith so there's no reason to pick a corner if there is a better player on the board at another position.

Of these three, the only one who gives me pause is MacKensie Alexander. With no interceptions in college, it raises an eyebrow. Then again, he is a shutdown corner type, leading the class with just 33% of passes completed to his receiver. The lack of picks isn't the only drawback though. He isn't a big corner (5-10, 190 pounds) as the Raiders like and he not nearly as proficient in zone as he is in man coverage.

Apple has been picked (so to speak) to go to the Raiders in a lot of mock drafts, but that appears to be mostly just a matching up of any cornerback to a team that needs a corner. Apple is a reach at 14 and William Jackson III is even moreso. And something just seems wrong about the Raiders taking a Houston cornerback in the mid-first round. Can't quite put my finger on why that would seem like a bad idea, but it just sounds wrong.

Verdict: Alexander: PASS, Apple: PASS, Jackson III: PASS