The NFL draft is almost upon us. The spectacle begins Thursday and concludes on Saturday. A pool of prospects will be sifted through during the course of three heavily scrutinized days.
And guess what?
It doesn’t even end there as teams will be scrambling to sign priority undrafted free agents as soon as Mr. Irrelevant (last pick of the draft) is announced.
For Raider Nation, keen eyes are going to watch the Jon Gruden-Reggie McKenzie dynamic. How well will the head coach and general manager mix? Will Gruden be the overriding factor in the selections? Will McKenize’s best player available (BPA) philosophy reign supreme?
The Oakland Raiders have 11 selections in the upcoming frenzy. This is my final prognostication of those Electric Eleven:
Round 1: 10th overall
Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
Previous: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Gruden did say there’s a 19-year-old in the draft and the team wouldn’t discriminate. Yes, Edmunds is only 19 (20 in May) but at 6-foot-5 and 253 pounds, the former Hokie is a genetic freak. He got better each year at Virginia Tech and has the athleticism (4.54 40-yard dash time) to be moved around on defense as cover or rush linebacker. Roquan Smith may be the preferred player, but he goes to the San Francisco 49ers a pick ahead of this one (thanks Reuben Foster).
Round 2: 41st overall
Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
Previous: Arden Key, Edge, LSU
The Bulldog tailback has the vision, speed, power and soft hands to excel as a feature back in Jon Gruden’s offense. His pass blocking is underrated and would be welcome by quarterback Derek Carr. Michel would be a sound understudy to Marshawn Lynch and at 5-11, 220 pounds, he could spell Beast in year one.
Round 3: 75th overall
Orlando Brown, Jr. OT, Oklahoma
Brute force power and a nasty mean streak — the perfect Raiders lineman. While the 6-8, 360-pounder bombed a the combine and pro day tests which led to his fall in the draft. But that’s the Raiders’ gain. His massive frame is hard to ignore and he got the job done as a Sooner. With further refinement, he’s a perfect protector for Derek Carr.
Round 4: 110th overall
DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Penn State
Previous: Dante Pettis, WR, Washington State
Ham isn’t going to blow you away with athleticism, but his route running is both disciplined and precise. But it is that precision Gruden values most in his wide receivers. At 6-1, 205 pounds, Hamilton who ran his 40 in the 4.47 to 4.52 range, Hamilton can slide right into the slot where he operated with success at Penn State.
Round 5: 159th overall
Michael Dickson, P, Texas
The Raiders punting game has been sound with Shane Lechler, Marquette King and now Dickson. The Australia native has the big leg and hangtime to continue the tradition. He loves pinning opponents inside their own 20 even when he’s kicking from his own 20. Field flipping remains in Oakland.
Round 5: 173rd overall
P.J. Hall, DT, Sam Houston State
The Raiders wait until the fifth to address interior rusher? At 6-1 and 310 pounds, Hall ran an impressive 4.7 40-yard dash time bolstering his ability to wreck the opposition. Quickness, power, and intelligence is Hall’s specialty. And he’d be drafted higher if he were at a bigger school.
Round 6: 185th overall
Holton Hill, CB, Texas
At 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds with 4.49 speed, Hill should be drafted in rounds three and four. However, maturity issues got him suspended from the Longhorn program. Still, his cover skills and size are hard to ignore (two pick-sixes last season). If there’s a coach that can get at talented troubled corner in the right, it’s Gruden.
Round 6: 212th overall
Joe Ostman, Edge, Central Michigan
The definition of a Gruden Grinder, folks. A three-time state wrestling champion, Ostman is Mr. Hustle and he blew up as a senior with 14 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss. At 6-3 and 255 pounds, Ostman is slender, but he’s a terror (i.e. Slender Man).
Round 6: 216th overall
Kahlil McKenzie, DT, Tennessee
The elder McKenzie talked his son into forgoing his final year at Tennessee and entering the draft. While injuries sapped Khalil’s availability, he has the ability to be a plugin in the run game. But pop’s is trying to convince kiddo to play offensive line. Tom Cable specializes in converting defenders into offensive linemen.
Round 6: 217th overall
Nick DeLuca, LB, North Dakota State
His athleticism isn’t elite, but his football IQ and instincts are at another level. The small-school former Bison can diagnose plays and flow to the ball and is a sound tackler. Gruden visited North Dakota State while he was a TV man and spoke highly of the program. DeLuca can be Greg Biekert all over again.
Round 7: 228th overall
Nick Bawden, FB, San Diego State
A throwback to a dying breed, Bawden is a classic lead plow who has the hands to be a solid option as a pass catcher out of the backfield. The former quarterback was the lead blocker to Rashaad Penny and Bawden uses his 6-foot-3, 245-pound frame to its full extent. Gruden would get a Jon Ritchie-type once more in this former Aztec.