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Grading Raiders 2017 draft class after second season

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Indianapolis Colts v Oakland Raiders Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Recently we put out some grades for the Raiders rookie class. There were some who grumbled that you can’t grade players after one season, but that’s simply not true. You can grade them every step of the way to see their progress.

In that spirit, we look back to the previous class to see how they are looking after two seasons.

Round 1, pick 24: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State

This past season was basically Conley’s rookie campaign. He was injured most of his rookie season, so there wasn’t much by which to judge him. He began this season still trying to get his footing and after midseason he got it. By season’s end he was arguably the best player on this defense, putting up 8 passes defended and two interceptions over the final six games and if he keeps it up, he could be a cornerstone in the rebuild.

Grade: B+

Round 2, pick 56: Obi Melifonwu, S, UConn

Physical gifts for days. But just couldn’t stay on the field. The little time he did spend on the field, he lacked the pop you need from an enforcing strong safety. Soft, as they like to say. He was placed on IR to begin the season before being cut and signed with the Patriots, appearing in just two games last season.

Grade: F

Round 3, pick 88: Eddie Vanderdoes, DI, UCLA

Started his entire rookie season and was a complete non-factor. He then tore his ACL in the season finale, causing him to miss his entire second season. Gruden has said he would like to get him back, but Gruden also re-signed Justin Ellis and drafted PJ Hall and Maurice Hurst to give the team interior pass rush. It’s hard to say if Vanderdoes will ever be a factor.

Grade: D

Round 4, pick 129: David Sharpe, OT, Florida

Started a couple games at the end of 2017 at left tackle. One good game, one terrible one. Last training camp, he even looked like he might compete at one of the tackle spots. Then he was waived in the final roster cuts, signed to the Texans’ practice squad, waived by them, and claimed by the Raiders as injury insurance. Depending on what the team does at tackle in the offseason, Sharpe could be back in the mix possibly at right tackle, but it’s just as likely he won’t make the roster again.

Grade: D

Round 5, pick 168: Marquel Lee, LB, Wake Forest

The last coaching staff had high hopes for him as a rookie, even giving him the starting middle linebacker job for a short time. That didn’t work out because he was a liability in coverage. Lee showed great strides in his second season and was again given the chance to be the team’s middle linebacker. Ultimately, he would play sparingly — mainly in short yardage situations — sharing time with undrafted rookie Jason Cabinda. And middle linebacker is still a glaring need area.

Grade: C+

Round 7, pick 221: Shalom Luani, S, Washington State

The ‘Football playin’ Jesse’ looked fantastic in his first offseason, but didn’t see much time in the regular season. When he did play on defense, he showed he had some holes in his game. He was traded before the season for a 7th round pick. So, the Raiders got back what they spent to get him. Like scratching off a lottery ticket and winning another ticket.

Grade: C

Round 7, pick 231: Jylan Ware, OT, Alabama State

Was always a flier and he was always out of his depth against NFL talent.

Grade: F

Round 7, pick 242: Elijah Hood, RB, North Carolina

For as excited as he was to join the backfield with Marshawn Lynch, he never got that chance. He hasn’t played an NFL snap.

Grade: F

Round 7, pick 244: Treyvon Hester, DI, Toledo

Hester looked quite good, well outperforming draft counterpart Vanderdoes despite receiving far few snaps. For some reason the Raiders waived him prior to the season even with Vanderdoes out for the season and Justin Ellis on partial season IR. He signed on with the Eagles and played in 12 games. Can’t speak on the decision to let him go, but he was certainly a solid pick this low in the draft.

Grade: A

Overall grade: D+

This class offered nothing in their rookie season. Outside of Gareon Conley, what else did they have to show for it last season? Only four of the nine players are even still on the team. Does Conley’s selection make up for what could be missing on basically the other eight picks? If he can play in his third season the way he did in the second half of last season, it would at least bring this class to a passing grade. Some contributions from any of the three others still on the roster.


How accurate is this grade?

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  • 1%
    Way too low
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  • 9%
    Little low
    (146 votes)
  • 70%
    Looks about right
    (1101 votes)
  • 13%
    Little high
    (203 votes)
  • 5%
    Way too high
    (86 votes)
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