Raiders 2016 Draft Class: Where Are They Now?

After two very successful drafts in 2014 and 2015, the Raiders had one of the worst in team history in 2016. Let’s check out where these players are now.

Raiders 2016 Draft Class

Round 1, Pick 14: Karl Joseph

This looked like a very good pick at the time, and Joseph has definitely had some impressive moments during his tenure. The safety was drafted after the retirement of Charles Woodson, and Oakland hoped Joseph, along with newcomers Sean Smith and Reggie Nelson would help rebuild the secondary before the 2016 season. Joseph played especially well to close out the 2018 season, and has been a solid piece for the team throughout his short career.

Joseph was on pace for another solid year in 2019 until a foot injury cut his season short. He is now 26, his rookie contract has expired, and the Raiders are left with a tough decision. The safety is coming off one of his best seasons as a pro, and his performance certainly deserves an extension. Joseph brings a lot of value to the Raiders defense, but they already have in-the-box safety Jonathan Abram. The Karl Joseph situation is something to monitor this offseason.

Round 2, Pick 44: Jihad Ward

The Raiders used their second round pick in 2016 on Jihad Ward, a pass rusher from the University of Illinois. Ward was a very good athlete, standing at 6’5”, 295 lbs, but this was an odd pick for Oakland at the time as the defender had lingering injury problems, and registered just 1.5 sacks in his final college season. Moreover, he played in a 3-4 defense while the Raiders ran a 4-3 defense.
Ward had a rough rookie season, and during the 2018 draft, he was traded to Dallas for Ryan Switzer. Neither player remained on their new teams for long, as Ward was cut a week before the 2018 season began. Moreover, he had a short stint with the Colts, and he’s currently on the Ravens roster.

Related: There are no Raiders on AP All-Pro team

Round 3, Pick 75: Shilique Calhoun

The Raiders spent their third round pick on another pass rusher and another defensive end, this one from Michigan State. At the time, Calhoun looked like a great pick, and many thought he was actually a better selection than that draft second rounder, Jihad Ward. Calhoun was selected to the All-Big Ten team three times, and finished with 27 sacks in his collegiate career. He looked like a great piece to strengthen a Raiders pass rush that also included Khalil Mack, Mario Edwards, Bruce Irvin, and Shelby Harris.

Unfortunately, like much of this Oakland’s draft class, Calhoun’s college production didn’t translate to the NFL as he merely played 26 games with the Raiders, recorded 24 tackles, was credited for half a sack, and had one pass defensed in that span. Calhoun, who ended his rookie season on injured reserve, and had stints on the Raiders practice squad in 2017 and 2018, is now on the Patriots active roster.

Round 4, Pick 100: Connor Cook

With the 100th pick in the draft, the Raiders selected Connor Cook, whose fit in Oakland was puzzling from the start. He became the seventh quarterback selected that year, partially due to his reputation of having a bad attitude, and not being the greatest teammate. Back in 2016, all of Raider Nation pretty much agreed that Derek Carr was the franchise quarterback (crazy, right?), and Oakland had a solid backup in Matt Mcgloin as well.

Remarkably, Cook ended up playing in the only Raiders playoff game of the decade thanks to injuries to both Carr and Mcgloin. He started that 2017 Wild card game, and ended up losing to Brock Osweiler and the Texans 27-14. He then had stints with the Panthers, Bengals, and Lions. He now finds himself on the Houston Roughnecks of the XFL.

Round 5, Pick 143: DeAndre Washington

Washington was a solid pick, and was poised to give the Raiders good value as a fifth rounder. Oakland needed a backup for Latavius Murray, and Washington was exactly what the Raiders wanted. He was a great change-of-pace back at Texas Tech, and was a threat as a receiving option out of the backfield as well.

Washington has been a very solid backup for the Raiders, and he has indeed given the team great value as a fifth round pick. He’s played as a secondary back behind Murray, Marshawn Lynch, and now Josh Jacobs. The running back’s rookie contract has now expired, and he’s currently an unrestricted free agent. Washington played well in Jacobs’ absence to end the season. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Oakland bring him back.

Round 6, Pick 194: Cory James

In the sixth round, Oakland addressed their linebacker need with the selection of James, from Colorado State. James seemed like a good fit for the Raiders’ 4-3 defense as he was a better pass-rusher and tackler in college than he was at defending the pass, finishing with 25 sacks and no interceptions.
James started five games his rookie year, and played in all 16. He finished the year with 48 tackles and forced a fumble. He was a starting linebacker for the Raiders to begin the 2017 season, but missed some time with injuries, and was eventually placed on injured reserve. On May 4th, 2018, James failed a physical and was waived by the Raiders. He’s been a free agent ever since.

Round 7, Pick 234: Vadal Alexander

Finally and with their last pick of the draft, Oakland went with a guard from LSU, Vadal Alexander, who was supposed to serve as a depth piece, since the Raiders were already loaded with Offensive line talent. Alexander was versatile and able to play just about anywhere on the line. He was also thought of by many as one of the best linemen in the entire draft, so to get him in round seven was a steal.

Alexander never served as anything more than a rotational player. He got occasional playing time, and was able to hold his own when on the field in place of an injured player, but he wasn’t ever capable of becoming more than that. Alexander was suspended for the first four games of the 2018 season for testing positive for performance-enhancing substances. He was cut later that summer after failing to report to training camp, and he’s been a free agent ever since.

Bottom Line

This was a very, very weak class for the Raiders, and there’s a real chance they enter the 2020 season with no remaining players from that batch. The only players to really make a positive impact have been Joseph and Washington, and both are free agents with no guarantee they’ll be back. This was a bad class, and easily one of the worst in franchise history.

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