Let’s put a bow on this. In total the Raiders had 9 picks in the 2017 NFL draft. Five in the first five rounds, and four in the 7th round. Their plan was to find potential starters in the first five rounds and take fliers on sleepers, add depth, and special teamers with a cluster of picks late.
As a disclaimer, I don’t grade too much based on the kind of career these guys will have. Those grades are for a year from now, two years, and beyond. These grades are based on factors like fit, draft projections, and such.
Round 1: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
Conley was considered a top 15 pick prior to the allegations of sexual assault came down. Pure talent-wise, Conley is a perfect fit for what the Raiders like and what they need. He has good size, speed, and versatility to play inside or outside. He is an A player based on talent alone. Just based on the risk factor, it lowers the grade slightly.
Fan vote: B+
Round 2: Obi Melifonwu, S, Connecticut
Another absolute perfect fit here. And for a player who could have easily been taken at the top of the second round or even at the bottom of the first. But he was there at pick 56 and you make that pick. Even though safety is not among the most glaring needs.
Fan vote: A
Round 3: Eddie Vanderdoes, DT, UCLA
Defensive tackle is a need on this team, though perhaps moreso at nose tackle. Vanderdoes ballooned up to 340 pounds last season, but he’s not a nose tackle. He is an inside pass rusher, which was lacking last season while Mario Edwards was not healthy and rookie Jihad Ward was trying to find his way. The selection of Vanderdoes means three straight drafts taking an interior defensive lineman on day two. He is down to 302 pounds now, but those weight fluctuations and overall lack of production should be concerning.
Fan vote: B-
Round 4: David Sharpe, OT, Florida
As day three began, the natives were getting restless that the team had yet to draft a linebacker — the team’s biggest need. There were still some good ones on the board, but the Raiders went offensive tackle instead. That too is a need, so you can’t fault them entirely. Sharpe has a bit of an ironic name, considering he admits his right eye is blurry due to having had cataracts in it that were removed when he was younger. He has the physical tools and has been a solid starting left tackle at an SEC school, so that’s something.
Fan vote: B-
Round 5: Marquel Lee, LB, Wake Forest
Finally a linebacker. He comes with a lot of experience and the Raiders did like him. Though two potentially better options at the positions came off the board earlier in the round with Blair Brown and Anthony Mason Jr. Lee seems like he could be the next best option and comes with a strong resume as a 3-year starter.
Round 7a: Shalom Luani, S, Washington State
Round 7b: Jylan Ware, OT, Alabama State
Round 7c: Elijah Hood, RB, North Carolina
Round 7d: Treyvon Hester, DT, Toledo
I am not going to go through and grade each 7th round pick individually. They’re 7th round picks. I could say I like other picks better here and there, but as I said to lead out, that’s not how instant draft grades should work.
If you looked at the list of remaining needs heading into the final round they were DT, S, OT, RB. They already got an OT and a S but they needed more than one. I like Hood as a running back, Luani as a special teams maven and needed depth, and Ware as a small school sleeper. The only one which I don’t necessarily see the logic is Hester because they still hadn’t addressed nose tackle and there are questions whether that’s where he would be best suited.
Overall Draft Grade: B
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