They say you can’t really judge how talented a player is going to be based solely on their rookie season. That’s true. And for that reason, a second season offers even more indication of the kind of players the Raiders selected.
Let’s check in on the Raiders’ 2015 draft class with two full seasons under their belt
WR Amari Cooper (Round 1, pick 4)
He made the Pro Bowl as an alternate his rookie season and was on the initial squad his second season and has gone over 1000 yards in each of his first two seasons. That’s pretty good. The bad is he has faded down the stretch both seasons. And as good as he is with route running and with the ball in his hands, we’re usually left thinking he has so much more ability left on the field due to a lack of aggressiveness. He has been a very good receiver, but has yet to perform at the level of a guy who is going to get his no matter what. That’s what you expect from a player with his skillset taken at fourth overall.
Rookie grade: A-
DE Mario Edwards Jr (Round 2, pick 35)
We are still looking back at the handful of games his rookie season in which he showed he can be a top talent. He injured his neck late that season, missing the final three games, then injured his hip and missed all but the final two games of this last season and their playoff game. In those games, he still wasn’t back to the level we had come to expect midway through his rookie season. The Raiders missed his presence on the defensive line tremendously. As they say, the best ability is availability. You can add dependability to that. He has yet to show either so far so we are left to try and judge his talent on a small sample size and wonder if health will be an ongoing concern for him.
Rookie grade: A
TE Clive Walford (Round 3, pick 68)
Walford was supposed to break out his second season and show everyone the kind of talent he could be. That didn’t happen. He didn’t take a tremendous downturn, but he didn’t take the step forward many had hoped/expected he would. He got in an ATV accident in the offseason that injured his knee and cost him offseason workouts. He had suffered an injury in pre-camp workouts as a rookie and it cost him nearly all of training camp. That slow start had him working with a lot of benefit of the doubt which was one reason why many thought he would break out in year two. Yet despite six more starts he had just 30 more yards receiving than he had as a rookie. Not once last season did he have more than 50 yards receiving in a game and his yards per reception actually went down.
Rookie grade: A-
OG/C Jon Feliciano (Round 4, pick 128)
With no room for him on the line, the Raiders made the wise decision to work him at center to be the team’s utility backup interior lineman. You’re hoping for a player who can compete for a starting job as a fourth round pick, but since with the addition of Kelechi Osemele, that wasn’t going to happen, so this was a natural move. When he did have to come in due to injury, the dropoff was noticeable, though that is to be somewhat expected.
Rookie grade: D+
LB Ben Heeney (Round 5, pick 140)
After showing some flashes as a rookie, the Raiders decided he was going to be the team’s middle linebacker. Though he said that was the team’s intention all along. He was named the starter to begin the season and it lasted all of two games before the coaches realized they had made an error in judgment. Rookie Cory James took over as the starter in week three and by week four Heeney was injured and lost for the season. He has shown he can be an asset as perhaps a 3-4 inside linebacker and special teamer, but starting middle linebacker may not be in the cards.
Rookie grade: B
LB Neiron Ball (Round 5, pick 161)
His ability to cover the tight end is now something of legend. Not in the sense that he has earned that notoriety so much as it’s just a story passed down through generations that is still celebrated though so far in the past that no one can really recall how it came to be. Ball has appeared in just six games with the Raiders. This defense has struggled to cover tight ends the past couple seasons, so when Ball had two starts and seemed to do well in coverage, he was looked upon as somewhat of a savior. But two games is not nearly enough time to prove that thinking correct. There is no doubt of Ball’s athleticism and he has some coverage abilities. It was his injuries in college that had him drop to the 5th round and those injury problems have continued over his first two seasons, including missing all of last season.
Rookie grade: B
DE Max Valles (Round 6, pick 179)
Seen as a good pick at this point in the draft due to raw talent, his rawness proved to be too much. He got some seriously bad advice and came out of college as soon as he was eligible. He didn’t make the squad and was placed on the practice squad. The Bills signed him off the Raiders practice late that season and he has never played in an NFL game.
Rookie grade: C-
OL Anthony Morris (Round 7, pick 218)
An out of nowhere pick that never went anywhere.
Rookie grade: D-
WR/KR Andre Debose (Round 7, pick 221)
Was drafted to be the team’s return specialist. He tore his Achilles in his first OTA’s, was the favorite for the job again last offseason and was injured again. Andre Debose, we hardly knew ye.
Rookie grade: C
CB Dexter McDonald (Round 7, pick 242)
He has appeared in 12 games over two seasons with no starts. He has a career 4 tackles. But he’s still on the team, so that’s something.
Rookie grade: C
Overall Grade: C-
Rookie overall grade: B-