So it’s that time of year again, folks. The NFL draft decides the future of each individual franchise and the prospects’ new beginnings.
But before the illustrious draft takes center stage, it’s time for the NFL draft candidates to produce on their auditions. The NFL combine, which takes place between February 27th-March 5th, is a very popular date on teams’ calendars, and this year is no different.
Before we get to the main event in April, the Raider Ramble brings you a pre-combine mock draft using Fanspeak’s big board and Oakland’s team needs.
So let’s begin with an all-action, tough tackling safety that has all the tools required in abundance and surely high on many boards.
Derwin James, SS, Florida State
The plug at safety was supposed to be taken by Obi Melifonwu last year but an injury-plagued season ruined his rookie year. Also, Reggie Nelson was nothing short of a liability in the secondary, often being roasted by the opposition.
So why not slip Karl Joseph over to FS and draft Derwin James at SS?
Well, both are notoriously hard hitters but James has that explosive speed that will “wow” many scouts and coaches and also boasts excellent height and range.
Standing at 6’3″ and weighing 212 lbs. this home run hitter could prove a shrewd acquisition for the Raiders.
- Tackles: 186 total
- Tackles for a loss: 15
- Sacks: 5.5
- INT’s: 3
Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
This year’s RB class has to be one of the best in recent times and there most certainly will be excellent value throughout the draft. So with this year’s second-round pick if Sony Michel falls to the Raiders, I can’t see Reggie McKenzie and Jon Gruden passing up on the talent that he clearly possesses.
Michel is a strong, willing, no-nonsense runner, often making big plays happen out of nothing; he reminds many of Alvin Kamara in his style.
He was part of a dynamic duo this year featuring Nick Chubb, so taking that into account, his numbers are very impressive. He needs work on his catching ability, especially if he’s to fit Gruden’s usual schemes, but overall as a runner, he has good speed, power, and vision for a 5’11” 215 pound back and could definitely be an NFL starter.
- Rushing Yards: 3,613 (career)
- Attempts: 590 Career Rushing Attempts
- Touchdowns: Rushing 33, Receiving 6
- Receiving Yards: 621
- 6.1 Career Average Per Carry
Harrison Phillips, DL, Stanford
This young defensive lineman has the tools to become an NFL starter for sure, he even made it at number five on well-respected Mayock’s Top 5 in each position. The Raiders need interior help on the defense and surely this will be addressed accordingly this year.
A large but agile rookie out of Stanford could be just the ingredient the Raiders are looking for. Not only is Phillips solid against the run, he also has the adaptability to cause problems for opposing QB’s, often using blitzing schemes to cause mayhem on the inside.
Standing at a decent size and height, 6’4″ 295 lbs., he offers plenty of power along the defensive line, which could reform the Raiders in that position.
- Tackles: 153 (career)
- Tackles for a loss: 29
- Sacks: 16.5
- Forced Fumbles: 3
Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State
Here comes more depth for the Raiders secondary, which is in dire need even if TJ Carrie re-signs. Derwin James, McFadden’s former teammate, is surely going to garner more attention after this year’s combine due to his height and weight, 6’2″ 205 pounds, respectively.
Tall with a good wingspan, this former Florida State CB was often praised for his ability to press wideouts and bug them inside their routes. What he lacks in speed he makes up for in his reading of the game, reminds me of Sean Smith except maybe a little quicker off the mark.
- Tackles: 53 (career)
- INT’s: 8
- Jester Weah, WR, Pittsburgh
- Durham Smythe, TE, Notre Dame
- Tyquan Lewis, EDGE, Ohio State
- Kendall Joseph, LB, Clemson
- James Looney, DL, Cal
- Dimitri Flowers, FB, Oklahoma
In the sixth round, the Raiders boast six picks, which could add serious depth to their roster as some of these names would be excellent value if they fall this far.
Most notably, Tyquan Lewis of Ohio State, the 6’4″ 265-pound edge rusher, has good speed off the line and a knack for creating separation from the offensive linemen.
Another notable inclusion is Jester Weah of Pittsburgh. The 6’3″ 210-pound receiver lacks top speed but his height and ability to catch passes in a crowded backfield could be a huge plus for the Raiders. Although he dropped more passes last year than previous years, good coaching could iron out his flaws and he could prove a good zone buster with vertical ability.
Braxton Berrios, WR, Miami (FL)
Last but not least, more ammunition for Derek Carr. But not only is Berrios a speedster at receiver, he’s a very able punt return specialist, averaging 10.4 yards per return in his career at Miami.
Often CB’s look at his unassuming 5’9″186-pound frame and think they have an easy matchup, but his good route running and separation quickly turn their heads around.
A couple of minuses are his short arms and lateral agility but overall he could prove to be a dark horse in the backfield.
- Receiving Yards: 1,175 (career)
- Touchdowns: 14 (career)
- Receptions: 100 (career)