One way to uncover talent in the draft others may have missed is to see them at another position. Despite Villanova’s Malik Reaves being a two-time all conference performer at cornerback, he has not shown up on the radar as a draftable player. So, the Raiders are looking at him a bit differently.
Reaves visited the Raiders Wednesday with the team viewing him as a safety prospect.
“When I came to the facility I talked with [Defensive Backs] Coach [Derrick] Ansley,” said Reaves. “I talked with the safeties coach. I sat down with the safeties coach the most, me and him watched some film and talked about calling out formations. Sat down with the Defensive Coordinator [Paul Guenther] for a little bit. Sat down with the GM [Reggie McKenzie], I sat down with the Special Teams coach [Rich Bisaccia] as well.”
The 6-0, 200-pound defensive back was a four-year starter at Villanova. He was named All Conference in his sophomore and senior season and in between played through a meniscus tear as a junior while not missing any games.
A tweaked hamstring had him start just 9 games as a senior, but he still put up decent numbers with 2 interceptions, 8 passes defended, and what he estimated was around 60 tackles.
He, of course, doesn’t agree with his under-the-radar status as a prospect. He has a great deal of confidence in his abilities and isn’t afraid to say so. He emulates players like Richard Sherman and Josh Norman who talk a big game because they can back it up.
Additions of players like Rashaan Melvin to the Raiders suggest they want their corners to have something to prove and the confidence that they will prove it.
“When I sat down with a couple of coaches, they were asking if it made me mad that I didn’t get the combine invite and was kinda flying under that radar,” Reaves added. “They love that I use that as motivation. They seemed like if I didn’t, something’s wrong, so I think they like those type of players.”
Having played at a school not known for its football program contributes to that greatly. College All Star games are great showcases for players like Reaves to face other top players on a bigger stage. Being seen by NFL scouts during the East-West Shrine game had several teams wanting to see more. He has already visited the Chiefs, Texans, and Raiders and has the Eagles scheduled as well.
“I think what I’m putting on film shows the type of player I am,” Reaves continued. “I can dominate the game. I feel like me going to that East/West Shrine week opened up a lot of teams’ eyes that I can guard any player, any competition at any level. I can guard the best in the country. I just play with a chip on my shoulder and I’m going to keep striving to do what I need to do.”
Like many of the pre-draft invites for the Raiders, Reaves is seen as a low-round draft pick or undrafted free agent.