The Las Vegas Raiders’ decision to draft Malcolm Koonce is already being tossed aside without a down of football played. However, is the criticism fair at this point?
Judging draft picks before they play a single down of football is usually asinine. While stating that ‘X‘ player won’t work out can be far-fetched, there are factors worth noting. Player history, team scheme, and a player’s draft position all give us an idea of their future. Sometimes, no matter how good a player was in college, getting drafted by a certain team just won’t work out. By now, fans know that a team will sometimes choose a player, only to have them switch positions as they transition into the NFL. This too often derails a career before it begins. With that being said, Koonce could end up going down this road according to some folks.
Did the Raiders make a mistake?
ClutchPoints recently took a look at what they deemed as mistakes by Las Vegas during the NFL draft. Among those mistakes, taking Koonce with the 79th selection. They point out that Koonce was projected to be a fifth-round selection, instead, he was chosen within the first 80 picks.
Before the draft took place, Koonce was seeing as a solid prospect but far from polished in the pass-rushing department. Jordan Reid of the Draft Network expressed this sentiment earlier in the year.
“As a pass rusher, he hasn’t quite developed a go-to counter move against blockers that are able to match his first step and continued explosiveness throughout the duration of pass-rush attempts. While he won’t be a fit in every defense, he projects best as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but he remains inexperienced as a coverage dropper from his stand-up positioning.”
It appears that the Raiders will have their work cut out for them with Koonce. The fact that defenders neutralized him once his first step was canceled out by offensive linemen is worrisome. In addition, Reid believes his coverage skills will need addressing if nothing else, due to a lack of experience. Nevertheless, for what it’s worth, Pro Football Focus was impressed with Koonce as they posted an 84.4 pass-rushing grade. He was also graded 83.6 in the coverage department for the 2020 season.
Only time will tell if this was the right call…
Given their defensive struggles these past three years, the Raiders needed players who’d make an instant impact this season. While Koonce could turn out to be a fine player, it’s not entirely unfair to say that the Raiders reached on this one. The team needed help in the pass rush department and they tried to address this by signing free agent Yannick Ngakoue to help Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell. Realistically, the team should’ve added another pure pass rusher in this draft with Arden Key’s departure leaving the position thin.
The organization could’ve also gone with Dyami Brown, Chauncey Golston, or Wyatt Davis, but that’s irrelevant now. Fans will have to trust the Raiders coaching staff with Koonce’s preparation as he attempts to become an EDGE in the NFL.
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*Top Photo: AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski