Oakland Raiders NFL Draft Recap/Grade – 2018
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Oakland Raiders Draft Picks (2018)
Key Positional Needs Entering Draft
- Offensive Tackle
- Wide Receiver
- Defensive Tackle
The Oakland Raiders and head coach Jon Gruden clearly had a plan heading into the 2018 NFL Draft. They executed this plan by drafting help in the trenches with five of their first six picks. You can never blame an organization for attacking the two most important position groups in football, the offensive and defensive lines; but the value for their first three draft picks were highly questionable. After reportedly eyeing Mike McGlinchey in the first round, the Raiders traded down and selected offensive tackle Kolton Miller once the 49ers drafted McGlinchey a pick before them. Miller, a fast riser in the draft is a raw talent with huge upside. However, upside, potential and “ceiling” are characteristics that have backfired on many teams before in the absence of polish and proven technique. Therefore, a top 15 pick was a bit steep a price to pay. Second round small school standout P.J. Hall was regarded as a 3rd round talent but he is a plug and play starter that improves the Raiders run and pass defense up the middle. The Raiders doubled down at tackle with Brandon Parker in the third round. Parker will come in immediately and compete with Miller for the starting right tackle position. Arden Key, Nick Nelson and Maurice Hurst are all excellent value picks that should bolster the Oakland Raiders defense as off the field issues (Key) and health concerns (Nelson, Hurst) torpedoed their respective draft stock.
P.J. Hall may be the safest selection but my favorite picks were Arden Key and Maurice Hurst. Put on their college tape sans Key in 2017 and you have two of the most dominant defenders leading teams chalk full of NFL talent. Key was un-blockable in 2016 and was regarded as a top 10 talent before off the field issues, injuries and football character questions derailed his 2017 campaign. Hurst on the other hand dominated throughout his collegiate career lining up all over the line of scrimmage. He was a man among boys and was slated to be a first round pick as the best three technique defensive tackle in the draft. A heart condition caused his draft stock to plummet but if his health checks out throughout the rest of his career then he may be the steal of the entire draft.
Fantasy Football Implications
The two mammoth tackles taken in the draft directly affects the fantasy prospects of the Raiders running game. Last season the Raiders finished 31st in yards before contact per rush and 1st in yards after contact per rush. Marshawn Lynch’s physical running style has a huge impact in that stat but it further shows how woeful the Raiders offensive line was in getting Lynch to the second level. Miller and Parker are better run blockers than pass blockers so Beast Mode is an interesting mid round running back to target in re-draft leagues. Derek Carr took a beating last year but the Oakland Raiders ability to run the football in 2018 will directly affect their passing game. If the Raiders have success on the ground, it will open up more opportunities for Amari Cooper and newly acquired Martavis Bryant to get behind the opponent’s secondary.