Most of the focus and scrutiny will lie with the Oakland Raiders first-round pick. And deservedly so. It’s a high-profile prospect who is expected to be a year-one contributor from the day his name is called at the podium.
Aspuria’s Assertions: Intriguing late-round prospects for Raiders
Rounds two and three certainly carry a lot of weight, but typically, the average fan’s attention span plummets as the draft heads into the later rounds. The scouting staff earns their keep in the late rounds. That mining process is intricate but rewarding.
Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie and new head coach Jon Gruden have four additional sixth-round picks (compensatory) to go along with the two Oakland already had in that stanza. It’s imperative the Raiders nab two year-one contributors with those six selections.
Below is a group of late-round prospects that will not only intrigue the Raiders but the rest of the league too:
- Dimitri Flowers (fullback, projected round – 4-5): A fullback by trade but there are very few prospects as versatile as this Oklahoma Sooner. The 6-foot-2, 245 pounder can block, catch and run. He can be a traditional fullback, H-back or even tight end. His blocking ability is so respected it allows him to get out in the flat or in space to haul in a pass.
- Alex Cappa (offensive tackle, projected round – 4-5): A punishing and tenacious run blocker at 6-foot-7, 305 pounds, the Division II product out of Humboldt State improved his draft stock with strong Senior Bowl practices that saw him show off versatility to play guard in the all-star contest. Pass protection against the NFL’s top echelon rushers is going to be tested, but Cappa’s mean streak is undeniable.
- Ja’Von Rolland-Jones (edge, projected round – 4-5): A tweener at 6-foot-2 and 244 pounds, the Arkansas State product is a sack artist that’s effective on either edge. Rolland-Jones finished just shy of Terrell Suggs’ FBS sack record but may need to bulk up to face NFL linemen. Smaller than your typical edge rusher, yet, once feared Raiders pass rusher Derrick Burgess was of similar build to Rolland-Jones.
- Shaquem Griffin (outside linebacker, projected round – 5-6): The Central Florida linebacker produced more with his missing left hand than most prospects can do with both at their disposal. An instinctual and speedy playmaker, the 6-foot-1, 220-pound linebacker is a dynamo. While he does struggle with disengaging from blocks (due to his missing hand) and has missed tackles, he provides high value as a late-round steal.
- Daniel Carlson (kicker, projected round – 5-6): Standing at 6-foot-4 and 223 pounds, this Auburn Tiger fits the size bill and he’s got the leg to boot. While his accuracy dipped (23-of-31) his booming foot 13 field goals of 50-plus yards is apparent. One knock is Carlson isn’t a weather tested placekicker.
- Eddie Pineiro (kicker, projected round – 5-6): The nation’s most accurate placekicker in 2017 (17-of-18), the 5-foot-11, 178-pound Florida Gator boasts adequate power, as well. The former soccer player is still relatively new to the football kicking game but thrives under pressure situations.
- Nick DeLuca (linebacker, projected round – 7-PFA (priority free agent)): This North Dakota State Bison isn’t going to wow you with his athleticism, but he’ll impress with his intelligence and football savvy. Durability is a concern as ailments hindered his availability and production. DeLuca is a tackling machine that’s limited speed-wise, but at 6-foot-3, 248 pounds, he profiles exactly like former Raiders linebacker Greg Biekert.
- Nic Shimonek (quarterback, project round 7-PFA): The Red Raiders’ quarterback didn’t get much chance to showcase his talents, but the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Shimonek has the characteristics to be a perfect Gruden project: Live arm with the accuracy to boot. He loves to throw the long ball and did so quite well garnering the highest deep ball accuracy grade from Pro Football Focus.