Now that we’re in the offseason, let’s take a look at how the Las Vegas Raiders nine-player rookie draft class fared in 2023:
The No. 7 overall draft pick had his moments in a season in which he missed all of the offseason recovering from a foot injury. The defensive end from Texas Tech started slowly, but had a few good games. He played more than 50 percent of the snaps in five games, He did move inside some and that helped. He finished with 3.5 sacks. He needs to find consistency in his game. If he does he can be a great help for Maxx Crosby and Malcolm Koonce. who combined for 22 sacks.
The second-round pick from Notre Dame was also somewhat slow to start the season, but he showed glimpses of why the Raiders traded up to get him and he has a chance to be a very solid player. The tight end can catch, run and block. He has skills. Mayer, who missed the final three games of the season with a toe injury, finished with 27 catches for 304 yards and two touchdowns. I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes a big leap in 2024.
The third-round pick from Alabama was active for just six games and he was inactive for the final 10 games. He finished the season with four tackles. It was quite disappointing, especially considering he was taken 19 picks before the Rams took defensive tackle Kobie Turner, who may win the NFL Defensive Rookie of the year award. Young must show something in Year 2.
The speedster third-round pick from Cincinnati had an up-and-down season. He was featured in some games and not a factor in others. He ended up with 19 catches for 331 and two touchdowns and he ran 10 times for 77 yards. The dude can fly and he helps the deep game. He does need to work on consistency and catching the ball. A key will be how he is used by the next offensive coordinator.
The fourth-round pick from Maryland was an early-season starter. He showed solid tackling skills, but his coverage was spotty, which was predictable for a mid-round rookie. He got hurt and then finished the season not playing any defensive snaps in the three final games. He basically became an afterthought when the team claimed Jack Jones. Depending on how is added at the position, Bennett may have to win a roster spot in training camp.
The fourth-round pick from Purdue was chosen as the starting quarterback for the final nine games after the coaching change to replace the struggling Jimmy Garoppolo. O’Connell, who the Raiders traded up to get, predictably had his ups-and-downs. He was inconsistent, but he was under control and his turnovers cut down as the season went on. Still, the Raiders will likely want to move on with O’Connell as the backup as they try to upgrade in the offseason. If they can’t, he did show he can play and be serviceable if not spectacular.
The fifth-round pick from Georgia played just 22 snaps at safety, all in one game. He was inactive for most of the season and played special teams. He will have to work to make the team in 2024.
The sixth-round pick from Miami was active in seven games and played 89 defensive snaps. The linebacker showed some ability when he did play on defense. Yet, he played solely on special teams in the final three games. I could see him making strides in his second season.
Nesta Jade Silvera:
The seventh-round pick from Arizona State was inactive in just two games. The defensive tackle was cut in December and was signed to the practice squad. He has an uphill battle to make the squad in 2024.
The group had its moments and there is hope for the future. The keys are continued growth from Wilson, Mayer and Tucker. I’m not sure this can be a special draft class, but it can be productive.
Overall class grade: C