The popular time frame of evaluating the impact of a draft class is usually after the their third season. That time is usually sufficient in judging the leap to the NFL because it allows for the settling in period and it allows players to find their niche given their skill level. We will take a quick look at the direction the latest draft class is headed in after their first season.
Round 1, 12th Overall: D.J. Hayden
Going into training camp, Hayden was handled with kids gloves. He practiced in a red jersey (non contact) until the third week when he suited up against the Chicago Bears in the Preseason game. Hayden started the year on the bench and only saw time in nickel packages as the right corner. Offenses targeted the rookie as often as they could and this was most apparent in what would become his last game of the season against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Judging from the eight appearances, Hayden looked nervy and showed a lack of self-belief in his coverage skills. The one very impressive attribute that i witnessed was his ferocious tackling ability. Hayden attacked the ball carrier with zeal and tenacity and for that reason alone I hold out hope for the future.
Hayden finished his first season in Silver and Black on injured reserve. He finished with 26 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 2 passes defended, and an End Zone interception of Philip Rivers.
Round 2, 42nd Overall: Manelik Watson
Watson started and ended the season injured. He had a calf injury which he aggravated in camp and then injured his knee that kept him out of competing for a spot on a depleted line. The one bright spot was when he lined up at left tackle against the Seattle Seahawks in preseason and held up well albeit against backups.
During the season, Watson was kept on the bench by the play of Tony Pashos and his lack of experience. The former Seminole did feature in Jumbo packages as an extra lineman.
Watson had a miserable first season by all accounts and should look to head into next season with a clear slate.
Round 3, 66th Overall: Sio Moore
Moore is unquestionably the best player drafted in this class. He recorded 50 tackles, 1 forced fumble, and 4.5 sacks. Those numbers are fairly impressive for a rookie. The Value that Moore provided from the third round was extraordinary and I look forward to seeing how he builds on his first season.
Round 4, 112th Overall: Tyler Wilson
Considering he started the season on the practise squad and ended the season on a different team, it’s fair to say Wilson was a complete Bust.
Round 6, 172th Overall: Nick Kasa
Kasa has been a complete non-factor. He converted from the defensive line to play Tight End and is still learning the position. He appeared in some rushing situations as an extra blocker.
Round 6, 181st Overall: Latavius Murray
Nursing an ankle injury and not expected to make much of an impact in a crowded backfield, Murray was placed on IR coming out of Training Camp.
Round 6, 184th Overall: Mychal Rivera
Rivera showed flashes of being a very good player as he finished the season with 38 receptions and 4 Touchdowns. Rivera showed the potential to burst down the seam and create matchup problems for the defense. Rivera looks to be a piece the Raiders can build around in the future. I am still confused as to why Kasa was drafted ahead of Rivera.
Round 6, 205th Overall: Stacy McGee
McGee filled in for Vance Walker and held up well. I would say he could compete for the starting spot next season if he keeps growing as a player.
Round 7, 209th Overall: Brice Butler
Butler has shown signs that he could develop into a reliable receiver. At 6’3 205, Butler has the size and speed to cause nightmares for defensive backs. His problem has been consistency and getting on the field.
Round 7, 233rd Overall: David Bass
Bass showed some potential, but was ultimately beaten out for a roster spot by Ryan Robinson. Bass was consequently picked up by the Chicago Bears and recorded a sack and an interception for a Touchdown along with 26 tackles.
Overall, the draft by General Manager Reggie McKenzie was solid even though it lacked any elite players. If Hayden and Watson live up to their billing, this could end up being a really good draft.