The Oakland Raiders’ 2013 draft had a very evident theme when they wrapped up their final pick of the event. General Manager Reggie McKenzie selected a group of players that were far from finished products, but they had extremely high ceilings. These “boom or bust” type prospects left a lot of Raiders’ fans scratching their heads. They felt the team needed players to come in and produce right away, especially with their early round picks. McKenzie’s plan is a long term plan with players that might take awhile to reach their potential, but if they do then they have the potential to be special.
D.J. Hayden, CB:
A lot of people feel that Hayden was a reach the 12th overall pick. They feel the Raiders became enamored with his impressive workout, a la like the Al Davis regime, and that his story was a selling point the Raiders wanted use to their favor. Those people did not watch the tape closely enough, or decided to write off his performance due to perceived lack of competition his team faced.
Hayden was a highly productive player in college. In his junior year, his first at Houston, Hayden was named Defensive Newcomer of the Year in Conference USA with 66 tackles, two interceptions, five forced fumbles, and 11 pass defenses. He followed that up with 61 tackles, four interceptions, two interceptions returned for touchdowns, and eight pass defenses in just nine games before suffering the injury.
Hayden backs those numbers up with impressive physical skills and coverage instincts. He is a smooth, fluid athlete who flashes the ability to make plays all over the field. Hayden should be able to make some impact in the coming season, but his true potential will take a couple of seasons to be fulfilled when he is able to actually play games after sitting out the second half of last season. Hayden’s has the ability to become the Raiders’ next shut down, all-pro cornerback in the footsteps of Charles Woodson and Nnamdi Asomugha.
Menelik Watson, OT:
Watson has probably the highest ceiling in the Raiders’ draft class. Watson comes from Manchester, England and originally came to the United States looking to play basketball. He fell in love with football during his time in the States and enrolled at Saddleback Junior College. He then transferred to Florida State University, where he earned the starting right tackle job after fall practice. Watson started every game that season and then declared for the draft after just one season with the Seminoles.
Watson is extremely raw, with just three seasons of organized football under his belt. He is extremely athletic with good footwork and mobility. He has great range to step out and attack wide pass rushers and to get into the second level to set up down field blocks. He also has great size and length to pair with that athleticism. He weakness all come from his lack of experience. He needs to learn the nuances of the position and the game of football. He also needs to have his technique cleaned up by Raiders’ coaches. If the coaches can clean up the technical aspects of his game and tap into that athletic potential, then Watson could become an elite bookend offensive tackle on either the right or left side.
Sio Moore, LB:
Moore will probably be the most productive draft pick in during this season with his pass rush ability. Many are predicting that Moore can become a starter heading into the season, due to the perceived lack of depth at the position for Oakland. Moore will at the least be able to contribute as a role player in passing situations early on.
He was an absolute terror for opposing offenses, as he constantly created havoc in the backfield. Moore tallied up 268 tackles, 43 tackles for a loss, and 16 sacks in his three years as a full time starter as the University of Connecticut. He can drop into coverage as well, as he registered three interceptions and 21 pass deflections in his career.
Moore should eventually play on either the strong or weakside at the outside linebacker position, depending how much size he can add to his frame. Moore has the ability to become an all-around linebacker that likes to attack down hill and make plays behind the line of scrimmage. He should also be versatile enough to drop down as an edge rusher in passing situations to confuse offenses. Moore can become a pro-bowl type player, if he can put up gaudy sack numbers.
Tyler Wilson, QB:
Following his Junior year at Arkansas, Wilson looked like a sure fire lock to be a top-15 pick in this year’s draft. A poor senior year led to him falling all the way to the fourth round. Wilson posses a strong arm and truly excels in the intermediate passing game with good accuracy. He is also a strong leader who shows the toughness that teammates appreciate.
If Wilson is given enough time to develop and weapons to throw to on the outside, he can become a great starter. Wilson might not become an elite quarterback, but he possesses the skillset to put him on that next tier right under elite. He will most likely reach the level of a Philip Rivers or Jay Cutler, with his ability to stand in the pocket and make throws all around the field.
Nick Kasa: TE:
Kasa is extremely raw as a tight end, but flashed potential during his senior season. Kasa could become a three-down tight end for the Raiders. Kasa’s time as a defensive end early in his career helped him in his willingness to be a physical force in the blocking game. He will most likely start out as an inline blocking tight end as his receiving skills continue to develop. Kasa also possesses solid athleticism with great straight line speed. He could become a stud for the Raiders’ as an edge blocker and red zone threat.
Latavius Murray, RB:
Murray is an insurance policy for Darren McFadden. He has great size and speed at the running back position. His strength could serve him well as situational short yardage back to help keep Murray healthy. He is also an underrated receiver out of the backfield and can spell McFadden on third downs. Murray has the potential to be a starting back, but will mostly likely be a great number two back with McFadden on the team.
Mychal Rivera, TE:
Rivera was a versatile weapon for the Tennessee Volunteers. He is more of a pure receiving tight end with great hands and decent athleticism. He needs to add size and strength to develop as a blocker, though. He can potentially fill that jack of all trades position that was played by Delanie Walker in San Francisco.
Stacy McGee, DT:
McGee struggled on and off the field in college. He flashed ability that showed why he was highly regarded coming out of high school, but failed to produce constantly at the college level. Best case scenario for the Raiders would be for McGee to reignite his passion for the game of football and put his past behind him. He could potentially become a solid run stopper along the defensive line.
Brice Butler, WR:
Butler was a highly-regarded prep wide receiver, but was highly unproductive during his collegiate career. He has amazing physical tools with a 4.37 40-yard dash and a 39-inch vertical leap. His size and length has scouts intrigued to go with the physical attributes. He could provide the Raiders with true deep threat that can go up and attack the ball at its highest point. He has the ceiling of a Vincent Jackson or a Malcolm Floyd.
David Bass, DE:
Bass is intriguing, because you do not know exactly what his ceiling is. His numbers in college would make you think he could become an elite pass rusher at the next level, but his numbers were put up against lesser competition. Bass will not become a great three down defense end, but he could become an excellent pass rush specialist in third down situations and in nickel and dime packages.
This Raiders’ draft class is full of players that lack experience at a high level. Moore would be their most known commodity with his three years as a full-time starter at UConn. All the players they selected are gifted athletes and have potential in bunches. The true worth of this draft class will be known several years down the road, but if they press the right buttons it could be the class that turns around the franchise.