While all eyes in the national media seemed to be on the quarterback position and whether the Raiders would be looking at replacing Derek Carr, most of us local folks weren’t buying into the hype. There were other positions that needed to be addressed and the quarterback talk was a lot of noise.
But if you were among those wondering about the Raiders plans for Carr, their draft gives him the vote of confidence that he is their guy.
As those who follow this team as closely as we do, we all have our ideas of what the Raiders should do with their draft picks. And inevitably at the end of it all, we’re left wondering how certain positions went either without enough of a priority or unaddressed altogether.
There are only so many picks that can be expected to come in and contribute right away. Typically that’s players who were chosen on the first two days. But sometimes players take a bit later suggest they could have an early impact as well.
The first round, the team used their three top picks on clear areas of need. They filled the gaping hole at defensive end with the addition of Clelin Ferrell. Likewise for the running back postion with the addition of Josh Jacobs. Then, finally, it was the safety position that got an influx of talent with the addition of Johnathan Abram.
That was three of what figured to be six major needs on this team. The other three being linebacker, tight end, and guard.
With one of their final three fourth round picks, they selected tight end Foster Moreau. That selection does little to fill the void left by the departed Jared Cook. Any tight end who could possibly do that was long gone by the time day three rolled around. The most notable among them was Iowa’s Noah Fant who was gone in the first round before the Raiders could select him at 24.
What this leaves the Raiders with as their top option is Darren Waller, who the team signed off the Ravens practice squad late last season. The Raiders think very highly of Waller despite his having just 4 starts in 4 NFL seasons. After the draft, Mayock said Waller would the Raiders “displaced Y” and made an interesting comparison for him.
“I was talking to Waller upstairs today,” said Mayock. “Boy, I thought we almost drafted…a minute I looked at him and shook his hands I thought it was Noah Fant. You know, from a height, size perspective, he looked very similar and he’s a very athletic kid.”
As for Moreau, he will be looked to as a blocker first and foremost with hopes to contribute some as a receiver in two tight end sets.
“What we think we found is a tight end that can put his hand in the dirt and block number one,” Mayock said of Moreau. “Number two, we think he’s a little bit better athletically than most people think. And number three, we think he’s a great compliment to Waller.”
What of linebacker, though? Well, this wasn’t a very strong draft at the position. After Devin White and Devin Bush in the first round, there was a significant dropoff in talent at the position. But even in the later rounds, the Raiders went away from the position, opting instead to double up on pass rusher with the selection of Maxx Crosby and cornerback with Trayvon Mullen in the second round and Isaiah Johnson in the 4th round.
Late in free agency, the Raiders signed both Vontaze Burfict and Brandon Marshall to one-year deals. They were insurance signings mostly, and the Raiders will be cashing in on that insurance at very least to give them two proven starting options atop the depth chart heading into camp.
Guard was a head-scratcher. They had many chances to add one in this draft who could come in and battle to be the replacement for the departed Kelechi Osemele. The one question was how much they liked Denzelle Good, who started three games at right guard late last season. Apparently the answer is quite a bit, because they ignored the guard spot completely in this draft and now Good is the team’s top option.
“I mean he has been [the starter] all offseason and I would imagine if we lined up today, Tom would probably have him there,” Mayock said of Good. “You know, he played pretty well at the end of last season. I’m not sure, you know, he’s going to have to prove to us that he’s the long-term answer. He had some initial success at Indy (Indianapolis Colts) at tackle. He wasn’t able to sustain it. You know, so we need him to be consistent. I mean that’s going to be his challenge because he has the natural ability and size to be a starting guard in the NFL but he’s got to sustain it and be more consistent.”
Even with Mayock saying Good has to prove he can be the guy, not adding any talent from the draft makes that task a lot more a clear path. Barring any surprise contender, there isn’t a lot standing in his way of holding onto the job come the season. And the Raiders seem pretty ok with that.