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Grading Raiders 2019 NFL draft

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NFL: NFL Draft Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone loves grades. And even those who complain about grading a class so early, still want to know what we think of the Raiders class…which is basically a grade. So, that’s what I’m going to give you.

Round 1, pick 4 – Clelin Ferrell

It seems I like this pick a lot more than basically anyone* (*non-homer). I had him as the Raiders pick in both my two-round mock and 7-round mock for a reason. Well, for more than one reason, actually. First of all, he is a perfect fit for the kind of edge rusher Paul Guenther likes. That alone isn’t enough of a reason to reach, but whether this is a true reach is actually a lot more debatable than the draftniks are making it out to be.

Ferrell was considered a top five prospect following the National Championship. Then he started to drop down mocks. Refusing to run a 40-yard-dash seems to have been one reason why.

Full disclosure, I had the Raiders taking Ferrell after a trade down to 9th overall. So, sure, I had him going lower, but there are three important things to consider here; 1) To trade down you need someone to trade with and without Quinnen Williams on the board, who was ready to slap down a high round two pick or a 2 and 3 for that move? You can’t answer that and neither can I. 2) Draft slots aren’t always about pure talent. They are about fit. It’s why Josh Allen dropped to 7th overall. 3) If Ferrell is your guy for your system, who cares about if he is going a few spots higher than perhaps he was rated? Can you guarantee that just because the mock drafts say he’ll last into the teens or even the 20s that he will? No. No you can’t.

I like Ferrell as a pass rusher. Always have. No “expert” opinions to the contrary was going to convince me he was going to be dropping into the bottom of the first round. Not with his consistently elite prospect numbers for a two-time National Championship team. Securing a trade partner would have made this a home run. It’s still an off-the-wall double.

Instant impact: High

Grade: B+

Round 1, pick 24 - Josh Jacobs

What’s ironic is a lot of draft predictors seem to like this pick merely because this is right about where they projected Jacobs to go. Some love it because they had Jacobs as a higher overall prospect. I don’t. So, the Raiders had a need at running back. What happens if they don’t get Jacobs here? Worst case scenario, someone else picks him. And? The next running back that came off the board was Miles Sanders at 53rd overall to the Eagles. The Eagles originally had the next pick after the Raiders at 24, but traded up to 21 to pick tackle Andre Dillard. They were considered the biggest threat to take Jacobs from them and didn’t. That means the Raiders may have gotten Jacobs at 27 and certainly would have had their pick of any other back in this class at 40 and perhaps into the third round had they traded down.

I accept that Jacobs may be the best back in this class, but I don’t think it’s anywhere close to a safe bet. Especially with his sample size. He displays the characteristics of an every down back, but he’s never been a workhorse. Other positions are also more valuable than running back at that point. Wide receiver Marquise Brown and edge rusher Montez Sweat went with the next two picks. Either of them would have made more sense.

Instant impact: Medium

Grade: C

Round 1, pick 27 - Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State

Abram is another ideal fit for what the Raiders need. He is a stout strong safety. Some say he was a reach here, but it’s not by much. And just like Ferrell, it’s a situation where fit overrules exactly rankings. You have to put it in a range. The Raiders need a safety. They want a certain type. Abram fits that bill. Some have called him a Karl Joseph clone, but I don’t see that. Joseph is a big hitter, but Joseph is a lot of things. He’s even better playing at free safety. Abram is better in the box and doesn’t have the coverage skills as Joseph, but has a bit better size.

Instant impact: High

Grade: B-

Round 2, pick 40 – Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson

It would appear the Raiders were dead set on getting a cornerback with this pick. All the best cornerbacks were still on the board to begin day two. Two of them went with the first two picks and two others were there that the Raiders liked, one of them being Mullen. So, they traded back to 38. Both were still there. So, the traded back to 40 and took Mullen.

My theory is the other cornerback was Greedy Williams – considered by many to be the best cornerback in this class. For that reason, they figured Williams was the one most likely to be selected, leaving them Mullen. And if not, Williams was a good consolation prize. Neither were selected, so they took their guy.

Williams would eventually come off the board at 46 overall to the Browns. They like Mullen because he’s a big (6-1) man press corner. But prior to his big performance in the National Championship game – including having an interception in the game – he hadn’t intercepted a pass all season. Mullen gave Mayock all the feels watching his performance firsthand at Levi’s Stadium and so he took him at the top of the second.

I don’t see cornerback as as big a priority as they were making it at this pick. Guard or tight end would have made more sense. There were several very good guards on the board as well as Alabama tight end Irv Smith Jr after having missed out on Noah Fant in the first round. Ole Miss wide receiver AJ Brown would have been a great pick as well. They get some credit for trading down a couple times before making the pick.

Instant impact: Low

Grade: B-

Round 4, pick 106 – Maxx Crosby, ED, Eastern Michigan

Doubling up on pass rushers was a great idea in this draft after the team missed out on any top free agents. This is right around where Crosby was expected to go, by some projections. They are betting on Crosby’s upside. He has been putting on weight throughout his college career and at 6-4, 255 pounds, still has room to grow. He had the second best 3-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle at the combine. His strength is in his all-around game as he isn’t just a pass rusher, he also plays the run fairly well. He has decent pressure numbers, with 38 hurries and 8.0 sacks last season and a combined 18.0 sacks and 72 hurries over the past two seasons. Solid pick at this point in the draft.

Instant impact: Low

Grade: A

Round 4, pick 129 – Isaiah Johnson, CB, Houston

They like Johnson’s size (6-2, 208) and his 4.4 speed. You rarely see that size speed combination in a cornerback. But at this point, he’s all upside. He’s below average in every facet of his game and didn’t dominate like you’d think he should playing in the American Athletic Conference. He is basically a special teams guy until further notice and it’s a bit too early in the draft to be going after special teamers. A linebacker would have been a good selection here. Notre Dame’s Drue Tranquill went with the next pick. Alabama’s Mack Wilson and Florida’s Vosean Joseph were among those available at this pick.

Instant impact: Low

Grade: C+

Round 4, pick 137 – Foster Moreau, TE, LSU

Earlier this month, the Raiders signed tight end Luke Willson. Foster Moreau is basically him. Some surprising speed when he gets the ball, but he doesn’t get the ball much. Mostly he blocks. Tight end should have been addressed earlier, but they didn’t have a third round pick, so that ship sailed a while back. They couldn’t really go through the entire draft without getting a tight end, so they get their guy here. They’re hoping that Moreau was just simply not utilized as much as he should have been. Oh, and those linebackers I mentioned? Still there.

Instant impact: Low

Grade: B

Round 5, pick 149 – Hunter Renfrow, WR, Clemson

The most amazing thing about Renfrow might be the size of has hands in relation to how many dropped passes he has. He has 7 7/8 inch hands and yet those miniscule mitts basically never dropped the ball. He had a total of TWO drops the past TWO seasons combined at Clemson. And he hasn’t caught less than 73% of the passes thrown his way over the past three seasons in which he helped the Tigers to two National Championships. There are more flashy slot corners, but there aren’t any more efficient ones, especially in the red zone. I love this pick in the fifth round to give Derek Carr a potential slot machine. The Raiders traded up a few picks to get him and that may have been a smart move.

Instant impact: High

Grade: A

Round 7, pick 230 – Quinton Bell, ED, Prairie View A&M

Mike Mayock basically confirmed my hunch that he made Bell his pick here just so he could stump the truck in the seventh round of the draft. He said he thinks the Raiders staff was probably the only scout at the converted wide receiver’s pro day, but still expected several teams to go after him as an undrafted free agent. That seems unlikely, but whatevs, it’s late in the 7th round. All these guys are basically undrafted free agent caliber, but who you want to ensure you don’t have to compete for them. They picked up Notre Dame LB Tevon Coney as a UDFA and no one would have blinked had they taken him at this pick, so who really cares. Maybe Bell will live up to the freakish physical abilities scout Teddy Atlas sees in him. This is when you go after these small school guys.

Instant impact: Low

Grade: B

Total picks: 9

High instant impact players: 3

Overall draft grade: B-


Do you agree with this grade for the Raiders’ draft?

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    No, too low
    (1113 votes)
  • 8%
    No, it’s a bit high
    (227 votes)
  • 2%
    No, way too high
    (82 votes)
  • 49%
    Yes, that seems fair
    (1408 votes)
2830 votes total Vote Now