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Raiders 2016 NFL draft reactions: Grades, analysis roundup

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Rounding up analysis grades for the Raiders draft class from around the sports world.

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Immediately following the draft, various sites put out their grades. I did mine for the Raiders. Opponents of draft grades would say you can't judge a draft or the players chosen until a couple years down the road. That may be true when judging their NFL success, but you can judge draft selections and drafts based on current values and how a team maneuvered the draft to get the players they need.

With the qualifier out of the way, here are how some of the various NFL sites graded the Raiders draft:

Pro Football Focus - Steve Palazzolo
Grade: B

Take: PFF noted they had Joseph at 30 on their draft board, but called his selection a "good pick". I agree with his placement on the board, and it suggests had the Raiders not taken him at 14, they wouldn't have gotten the best safety in the draft at their biggest need position. So, yeah, good pick.

They didn't like the Jihad Ward pick, saying he "did little to inspire confidence" and noted he was rated 69th among edge defenders. They really like third rounder Shilique Calhoun, who they said had a pass rush grade of +44.0; second only to third overall pick Joey Bosa.

They called fourth round pick Connor Cook a good value at 100 overall. They also liked fifth round pick DeAndre Washington who had their third best ‘elusive rating' in the class, forcing 67 missed tackles.

ESPN - Mel Kiper
Grade: B+

Take: Kiper went with the ‘if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all' approach to the Raiders draft. He was a fan of all three of the Raiders day one and two picks. He called Joseph a "stud", said Ward has "first-round talent", and noted Calhoun had great production, calling him "solid Round 3 value."

He liked the move to get Cook because it leapfrogged Dallas and Kansas City (two good sized states to be leaping over) and gave insurance for a Derek Carr injury (he apparently doesn't realize the Raiders have a backup quarterback). He also lauded the Washington pick saying "not only can he play" but that the fifth round was the right range to go after "potential running back starters". I guess the fact that he didn't mention Cory James and Vadal Alexander must mean he just plain hates those picks.

USA Today - Lindsay Jones
Grade: B-

Take: Jones liked the Karl Joseph pick and called the trade up to get Cook "a sign GM Reggie McKenzie hasn't forgotten his Green Bay roots." She noted it isn't ideal for Cook, who will be relegated to backup, but that it's a "long game move" for the team. No other draft picks were mentioned.

Sports Illustrated - Chris Burke
Grade: B+

Take: Burked seemed to have two minds about the Cook selection, saying the trade and selection was a surprise and calling him "no better than a backup". But then noting it made sense because he will make $1.6 million less than Matt McGloin this season (he received a round two RFA tender from the Raiders). Burke said Joseph went off the board "perhaps higher than deserved", which is fair, but understands the selection as it is an instant upgrade in a weak secondary.

He called third rounder Shilique Calhoun a better player right now than second-rounder Jihad Ward, who he called "a developing talent." He also noted that cornerback was a need position that wasn't addressed.

SB Nation - Dan Kadar
Grade: B-

Take: His favorite pick was Karl Joseph, saying he will be a "tone setter" in the NFL. The pick he called most questionable was Jihad Ward, noting the Raiders passed on some really good defensive linemen for him, which was pretty much where I was in my evaluation.

Kadar called Connor Cook a good value at the top of the fourth, but perhaps not for the Raiders who could have used players who would contribute right away to help them in their hopes for a 2016 playoff push. He was surprised Washington was chosen ahead of a few other talented running backs (as was I, being that I liked Paul Perkins who was still on the board).


My grade for the draft was a solid B, and that seems to be about the consensus as well, with all grades above hovering between B- and B+. Most liked the Joseph pick at 14 and were critical of the Ward pick in round two, with Mel Kiper being the exception. All noted the trade up to select Cook was quite the stunner to begin day three. Good value at that spot, but will be no more than a backup for the Raiders and hopefully add value in trade down the road.

You can see my Raiders draft wrap and grades here.