The NFL Draft is now officially over. Playoff teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers have revamped their squads in hope of winning the Super Bowl, while teams like the Cleveland Browns have revamped their squad in hope of winning more than one game. The Oakland Raiders 2017 draft class has been questioned by many analysts and pendants, but might be one of the best draft classes in 2017.
1st Round Pick (24th overall)
Gareon Conley, DB, Ohio State University
Grade ~ B
Gareon Conley might be the single best defensive back in the 2017 class. Conley has the potential to be a shut-down cornerback for an Oakland Raiders defense that has been historically bad since the decade started.
This pick would be an A+, but Conley has some off-field issues. Conley currently has a rape allegation against him, but he has not been charged.
2nd Round Pick (56th overall pick)
Obi Melifonwu, DB, University of Connecticut
Grade ~ A
Obi Melifonwu has unlimited potential. Melifonwu is not the most technically proficient player, but scouts believe he could become something special. What teams love about Melifonwu is his 4.40 40-yard dash time, his 44-inch vertical, and his 6’4 frame.
Melifonwu can be taught the fundamentals and technique to be an elite safety, but athleticism cannot be taught to even the most skilled players. The DB might be the most athletic player in the entire draft class, and he has plenty of upside.
3rd Round Pick (88th overall pick)
Eddie Vanderdoes, DT, University of California ~ Los Angeles
Grade ~ B
Vanderdoes is the perfect fit for the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders do not have a lot of depth on their defensive line, and UCLA product helps provide that.
Vanderdoes is a quality DT, but he does have some injury problems. The big man missed the entire 2015 season due to injuries along with most of the 2016 season. This must be a concern in Oakland, but the risk is worth the reward in the 3rd round.
4th Round Pick (129th overall pick)
David Sharpe, OT, University of Florida
Grade ~ C
Sharpe is a piece of work, and that’s the nicest way to say it. Sharpe has an NFL-ready body, and is a solid run blocker, but he has lots of weaknesses. Sharpe often gets torched while pass blocking, and struggles with athleticism. The Raiders will try to develop Sharpe into a starter, but he has too many holes in his game to start immediately.
5th Round Pick (168th overall pick)
Marquel Lee, LB, Wake Forest University
Grade ~ A
Lee is an experienced, big linebacker. This is a great value pick for Oakland, as Lee is expected to come in and compete for a starting job right away. Marquel has a NFL ready body, and is a great tackler.
The only concern about Lee is his pass coverage. He seems to get lost at times in pass coverage, and his lack of lateral quickness hurts him in open space. Overall, Oakland got a physical monster that can be transformed into a starter in the future.
7th Round Pick #1 (221st overall pick)
Shalom Luani, S, Washington State University
Grade ~ C
Luani is a decent all-around player. Luani is a special teams menace, and could possibly earn a nickel safety role down the road. He has issues tackling in space, and his physical numbers don’t “wow” anyone. This is a decent pick, but Luani was projected to go undrafted.
7th Round Pick #2 (231st overall pick)
Jylan Ware, OT, Alabama State University
Grade ~ B
Ware has a lot of things going for him. Ware is one heck of a physical specimen. Standing at 6’7, he for sure has an NFL ready body. Add the fact that he’s a decent run blocker, and a good pass blocker, and it seems like a great pickup in the 7th round.
The only issue with Ware is his agility, and he hasn’t faced any NFL talent. Ware has been playing against subpar talent for all his career, so this must be a concern to the Raiders.
7th Round Pick #3 (242nd overall pick)
Elijah Hood, RB, University of North Carolina
Grade ~ D
Hood will compete with the other running backs in Oakland for playing time. Hood is a good downhill runner, and is strong. He’s not very fast, and I can’t see him becoming a reliable running back in the NFL. He struggles moving laterally and his agility is for sure a big question mark. The Raiders should have traded this pick and tested the free agent market for another running back.
7th Round Pick #4 (244th overall pick)
Treyvon Hester, DT, University of Toledo
Grade ~ B
Hester isn’t a great DT by any means, but he’s a solid pickup for the 7th round. Hester is big, and has the potential to be a rotational player if he improves his agility and speed. Hester has the ability to get to the QB, and that’s what Oakland needs considering their lack of depth on the defensive line.
To sum things up, the Oakland Raiders had a very underrated draft. Oakland strengthened their secondary, as they picked up Gareon Conley, Shalom Luani, and Obi Melifonwu. Conley is an absolute steal at the 24th overall pick, if he’s cleared of any wrongdoing. Luani will have an instant impact, as he might be the best special teams player in the draft. Melifonwu is an athletic DB that can be progressed into an absolute force at safety.
The Raiders also bolstered up their defensive line and linebacking core. They added Eddie Vanderdoes and Treyvon Hester at DT, who provide good depth and size up front for the Raiders. Oakland also picked up Marquel Lee to give Khalil Mack some help at LB. Lee will compete for a starting role as a rookie, and will definitely become a starter in the near future.
Most analysts and pendants rank the Oakland Raiders 2017 draft class in the bottom half of the NFL. The Raiders picked up four players with very high ceilings, and many others with great size. At the end of the day, the Raiders might not seem to have a good draft class, but when you analyze the picks, it’s clear that they have one of the top 2017 draft classes in the NFL.