There are plenty of rough diamonds that can contribute to the Oakland Raiders in 2017
Ask any Oakland Raiders fan about general manager Reggie McKenzie and they’ll tell you he seems to have the uncanny ability to pluck talented players out of a seemly vast ocean of “forgotten” rookies. Think Jalen Richard and Seth Roberts to name a couple, both of whom made a significant impact for the Silver and Black on the field and will have the opportunity continue to do so in 2017.
So it comes as no surprise that Raiders fans shouldn’t only look to the first few rounds of the draft for a playmaker, instead, they should keep an eye on the deeper picks, the sleepers, the players that no other team wanted. These “unwanted” playmakers could rise up and one day, become the next wave of talent for the Raiders. With that in mind, here are the five undrafted players I believe Raider Nation should keep an eye on this offseason.
#5 Pharaoh Brown, TE, Oregon
Standing at 6’6″ and weighing 240 pounds, Pharaoh Brown has the size to translate into a deadly weapon in the NFL.
But issues with blocking and inconsistent hands could see him slip off the roster spot as the season goes on. Brown suffered a leg injury late in the 2014 season that kept him sidelined all of 2015, but when he returned in 2016 he racked up 426 receiving yards along with five touchdowns in the span of nine games. If Brown can clean up the drops or improve his blocking skills Walford may want to keep an eye on the rookie.
#4 Paul Boyette Jr., DT, Texas
Through the course of three seasons, Paul Boyette Jr. racked up 60 solo tackles, 17 tackles for a loss, and five and a half sacks. Weighing 317 pounds and standing at 6’3″, Boyette may have an opportunity to climb his way up the depth chart especially with the departure of both Stacy McGee and Dan Williams. Paul benched 225 pounds 29 times which would have been good enough to rank 6th amongst defensive linemen at the NFL combine. Though Boyette will have to fight for a spot with 2017 rookie Eddie Vanderdoes and Treyvon Hester, the opportunity is ripe for him.
#3 Ishmael Zamora, WR, Baylor
Ishmael Zamora’s big frame (6’4″ 224 pounds) and speed (4.53 40-yard dash time) would fit great in the slot position for the Raiders. He caught 63 balls for 809 yards and eight touchdowns last season which was pretty solid considering Baylor struggled mightily last season. A video surfaced of him whipping his dog right before the 2016 season which has many concerned about his off the field issues. Zamora has a real chance to rotate onto the field with Seth Roberts after Andre Holmes was released but will have to contend with second-year man Johnny Holton and a slew of other undrafted rookies Oakland has signed.
#2 Breon Borders, CB, Duke
Breon Borders brought 6’0″ and 180 pounds of energy to every play at Duke. Borders was a three-year starter for the Blue Devils and compiled 26 pass breakups over the course of his last two seasons and totaled 12 interceptions during his career.
With concerns over Sean Smith’s productivity, the unknown of T.J. Carrie, and the release of D.J. Hayden it could mean Borders will find himself on the field come Sunday even after the Raiders drafted corner Gareon Conley 24th overall in 2017. Perhaps adding a little weight could put Borders on special teams duties at the very least for the Raiders.
#1 Anthony Cioffi, S, Rutgers
At 5’11” and weighing 205 pounds the Rutgers product saw a lot of action in college starting in 47 of 48 games. He compiled 122 solo tackles, 2.5 sacks, eight interceptions, nine and a half tackles for a loss, and 13 passes defended.
Be sure to check out RaiderRamble.com’s recent interview with newest Oakland Raiders rookie Anthony Cioffi right here.
Clocking a 4.30 40-yard dash time, Cioffi should step in and immediately be a force on special teams for the Raiders especially with the departure of special teams pieces Brynden Trawick and Darren Bates. Cioffi will also have a chance to compete for a secondary position with the other rookies.