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Pre-draft scout evals suggest Raiders may have huge steal in 7th round OL Vadal Alexander

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Taking a look at what scouts were saying about Vadal Alexander pre-draft reveals why he fell into the 7th round and why he could be a huge steal for the Raiders.

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There were 23 interior offensive linemen taken in the 2016 draft. The 22nd of those was Raiders seventh round pick Vadal Alexander who was selected at pick 234. His selection that late in the draft was made all the more surprising when you go back and look at what was being said about him by scouts prior to the draft.

Collecting scouts opinions pre-draft is what Bob McGinn does each year for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. What he found was a player in Alexander who was one of the more highly regarded in this draft, and who probably should have been selected much higher.

Center Ryan Kelly led with 10 first-place votes and 78 points, finishing comfortably ahead of Cody Whitehair (51, two firsts), Josh Garnett (38, four firsts) and Nick Martin (24, one first).

Other players with double-digit point totals were Max Tuerk (16), Graham Glasgow (15), Christian Westerman (12) and Rees Odhiambo (11).

Following, in order, were Vadal Alexander, Caleb Benenoch and Ifedi, each seven; Decker, five (one first); Avery Young, three; Jack Allen, Connor McGovern, Isaac Seumalo, Joe Thuney and Sebastian Tretola, each two; and Joe Dahl, one.

Based at least partially on what the scouts – who ranked him 9th among interior linemen – McGinn himself put Alexander as his 10th best center/guard, noting he was LSU’s co-MVP along with running back Leonard Fournette.

Adding to Alexander’s value is his versatility. After the 6-5, 326-pounder had played at guard his first three seasons at LSU, he stepped outside to player tackle. ." His 46 starts include 25 at left guard, 20 at right tackle and one at left tackle.

The high opinion of Alexander seems to have been across the board. Pro Football Weekly listed him as their number one ranked guard, projecting him in round two. While Pro Football Draft Guide has him as the second best guard prospect, calling him a “quality starter in a power-blocking scheme.

The Raiders have Alexander listed as a guard but have also been giving him reps at right tackle this offseason. This increases his value tremendously as he can fill in for two different positions.

So, why did he fall in the draft? If you read some of the statements scouts made about him pre-draft, there are clues there.

"It wasn't fair to him this year at tackle because he's not a real good athlete," said one scout. "He is really a powerful person.”

"His feet are alright at guard," a second scout said. "He might have trouble during some one-on-one drills in camp but he'll end up mauling you. He'll do alright. There's been a lot of guards like that."

Added a third scout: "Needs hard coaching. Once he engages he'll work to finish. Not a bad athlete considering how fat he is."

What I find interesting about a lot of the criticism of Alexander is how much it sounds like the criticism Gabe Jackson had coming out. The Raiders selected Jackson in the third round of the 2014 draft and he has been one of the their best offensive linemen from day one.

Barring injury to one of the starters, Alexander could have a tough time breaking into the starting lineup anytime soon. For now he must prove the scouts evals correct along with rest of the NFL after he nearly went undrafted. He was certainly worth a shot in the seventh round to find out.