By three years in, we have a pretty good idea of what kind of player the team drafted at any position. I had already done draft grades for 2016 and 2015 which are basically more along the lines of progress reports if you consider the three year mark more of a final draft grade.
Those drafts were not stellar. I would say at this point you could consider them average to mediocre so far. But this team was built before that. Much of it coming in this draft.
DE/LB Khalil Mack (Round 1, pick 5)
The reigning Defensive Player of the Year a season after finishing runner-up to JJ Watt. That is pretty much the only stat you need to show Mack was an all-time draft selection. Completely dominant as a pass rusher and run stopper with supreme strength, instincts and an arsenal of pass rush moves. He finished with 11.0 sacks on the season, 29 QB hits, and 5 forced fumble. Even when the Raiders defense struggled at times, he was always at the top of his game.
QB Derek Carr (Round 2, pick 36)
Named the NFL’s Clutch Performer of the Year and in the conversation for MVP late in the season, he led the Raiders to a 12-4 record. Five times he threw the late game-winning touchdown and 8 times brought the team back from being down by a touchdown or more. When he went down in week 16 with a broken fibula, the team was lost without him. They would lose the season finale in Denver and lose their playoff opener in Houston. Every bit the franchise quarterback the Raiders hoped he would be.
OG Gabe Jackson (Round 3, pick 81)
The mauling guard has started from day one and hasn’t let up since. This season he moved from left to right guard with the acquisition of Kelechi Osemele. He took a few games early in the season to fully make the transition, but the latter part of the season, he was back to paving big holes for Raiders runners at the line. He was the only full time starting Raiders drafted offensive lineman.
DT Justin Ellis (Round 4, pick 107)
Ellis has been a rotational nose tackle for the Raiders over the past three seasons. They brought in Dan Williams two offseasons ago and the two have at times played alongside each other and at times split snaps. After a solid first season in Oakland, Williams came into last year’s training camp behind Ellis on the depth chart. That continued through camp and then through the season. Ellis has never shown he is the answer in the middle, but he is a lane clogger who has proven to be a valuable piece during the Raiders’ rebuild efforts.
DB Keith McGill (Round 4, pick 116)
This big bodied safety-turned-corner was drafted as a cornerback by the Raiders. After two seasons at the position, the team decided to move him back to safety to see if they had better results. He was oddly given the start early in the season ahead of Nate Allen while Karl Joseph was easing his way into the lineup. That was a mistake. When Joseph and Allen were injured late in the season, McGill came back in. He lasted one series and was taken out in favor of Brynden Trawick. McGill will have another full offseason to see if he can become an NFL safety.
CB TJ Carrie (Round 7, pick 219)
This Bay Area native made an immediate impact as a rookie, appearing in 13 games and starting 4. Over his career, he has appeared in 44 games with 21 starts. In 2015, due to the injury to Nate Allen, Carrie stepped in and played some safety as well. The other seasons, he has shown himself to be a passable nickel corner option, and outplayed the team’s 2012 top pick DJ Hayden every step of the way, despite Hayden being given every opportunity.
DL Shelby Harris (Round 7, pick 235)
Harris was the type of player you take a flier on. He was talented with character concerns. Despite showing some promise in camp and preseason as a rookie, he appeared in just one game that season. In 2015, he appeared in 7 games and was released the following offseason. He has since spent time in camp with the Jets and last season was on the Cowboys’ practice squad.
CB Jonathan Dowling (Round 7, pick 247)
Another talented player with character concerns. He appeared in 7 games as a rookie and hasn’t appeared in an NFL game the past two seasons.