How does one grade the Raiders’ 2017 draft? If you base it on rookie production, it’s a flat F, no question about it. They got just about nothing from that class i their first season. The problem with that is the top of that class missed most of the semester with illness.
For that reason, Mel Kiper gave the Raiders the same grade after year one as he did after the draft.
Post-draft grade: C
The Gareon Conley situation before the draft really was unprecedented. He was accused of rape only days before the first round, and several teams had taken him completely off their boards. There were questions about whether he’d be drafted at all. The Raiders ended up taking the cornerback at No. 24, and Conley was cleared by a grand jury in early August. Conley then dealt with a shin injury in training camp and was shut down early in the season, playing only 89 defensive snaps. That’s a disappointing start, but now he gets a fresh look under a defensive coordinator who thinks highly of him, and he has the talent to be a No. 1 corner.
Obi Melifonwu was one of the combine’s biggest risers, but he played in only five games due to injuries. The Raiders were so desperate at cornerback that they tried him there, too. I thought defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes had the tape of a fifth-round pick, but Oakland picked him late on Day 2. He finished the season with 18 tackles while playing in a rotation, but he tore his ACL in the regular-season finale. Marquel Lee and Shalom Luani combined to make 38 tackles in bit roles. David Sharpe started two games at left tackle at the end of the season. The Raiders rookie who had the best season was undrafted linebacker Nicholas Morrow, who had 57 tackles and started five games.
If any of these classes gets an “INCOMPLETE” after Year 1, it’s probably Oakland, as new coach Jon Gruden doesn’t have enough game tape of his top picks to know what he has.
New grade: C
Round/Pick Name Pos College
1/24 Gareon Conley CB OHIO STATE
2/56 Obi Melifonwu S CONNECTICUT
3/88 Eddie Vanderdoes DT UCLA
4/129 David Sharpe G FLORIDA
5/168 Marquel Lee OLB WAKE FOREST
7/221 Shalom Luani S WASHINGTON STATE
7/231 Jylan Ware OT ALABAMA STATE
7/242 Elijah Hood RB NORTH CAROLINA
7/244 Treyvon Hester DT TOLEDO
Granted, the injuries to Conley and Melifonwu doesn’t excuse the lack of production from the rest of the class. But typically with the later picks, you aren’t expecting instant production, so a longer view is given to them.
The Undrafted Morrow was the clear best rookie the Raiders had last season. Of the drafted picks, two sevnenth round picks Luani and Hester showed the most promise. Should Conley and Melifonwu stay healthy and step up in their second season on the others show progress, you can figure that grade will rise.