Of course all articles on new first-round draft picks are puff pieces by nature, but this profile on Amari Cooper is a really nice balance of on-field performance and off-field character. From his ability to run, catch, and score on every route, to his and Teddy Bridgewater’s positive influence on their classmates’ work ethic and performance in high school, Cooper seems like a player who expects huge things out of himself and his teammates. Can’t wait for the season to start.
Round 6 (179 overall) Max Valles OLB Virginia
Valles appears to be a steal, as he was projected for 4th/5th round. Good size but raw, figures to be utilized as OLB/DE tweener in the defense.
Round 7 (218 overall) Anthony Morris OL Tennessee State -Ohio Valley
Morris is huge (6’7″, 335#), but as he hails from a small school, looks to be yet another player who could have been acquired as an undrafted free agent.
Round 7 (221 overall) Andre Debose WR Florida
Debose excelled as a return specialist, which the Raiders have sorely needed for several years, but not much else. He will be used almost exclusively as a returner rather than receiver.
Round 7 (242 overall) Dexter McDonald CB Kansas
McDonald has good size and speed, and can add some depth to the young cornerback corps.
The Raiders traded down starting in the 4th round, gaining extra picks in the 5th and 7th rounds for a total of ten players drafted. We’ll break Day 3 up into two parts, with Rounds 6 and 7 in the next post.
Round 4 (128 overall): Jon Feliciano OG Miami
Feliciano has played at guard, center, and tackle. The Raiders figure to use him at right guard, and backup center. Scouted as having a weakness in his power run blocking. As Feliciano was scouted to be drafted late or not at all, this seems like a bit of a reach.
Round 5 (140 overall): Ben Heeney LB Kansas
Heeney appears to have a pretty solid motor, but gets caught over-pursuing and missing tackles. Between Jack Del Rio and Ken Norton, Jr., those issues will be corrected.
Round 5 (161 overall): Neiron Ball LB Florida
Ball has a great story, great attitude, solid physical skills, but an extensive injury history, and will probably be special teams at first. Another player who could have been snagged at least a round or two later.
The story on Edwards is a common one — highly touted prospect who underachieved in college, struggled with maintaining weight. May be something of a reach to pick in 2nd round, but worked with new Raiders linebackers coach Sal Sunseri, so apparently the coaching staff feel they can work out the kinks and get him to play to potential.
Walford is one of the highest-rated tight ends in this year’s draft. It’s fair to ask why, with so many holes around the team that need to be filled, the Raiders would go for a TE in the third round.
And with the #4 pick of the 2015 NFL draft, the Raiders take [drum roll] Amari Cooper.
While it was no surprise that Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota went 1-2, thus pre-empting the need for the Eagles or Browns to trade up to Oakland for that #4 pick, it was something of a surprise that Leonard Williams was available, and the Raiders still went for Cooper.
Williams ended up falling to #6, where he was snapped up by the Jets, to add to what is already one of the best d-lines in the league. While it’s curious that USC alum and defensive guru Jack Del Rio passed on Williams, that’s probably just an indication that the Raiders felt an additional urgency to get Derek Carr a reliable weapon that he can work with for the years to come.
Williams was certainly a favorite for most of the fan comments I’ve seen at a variety of forums, but Cooper is a promising talent who flourished in a pro-style offense with mostly average quarterbacking. He already improves an offense that was historically bad last season, and with even an average running game, in a division where all three opponents have quarterbacks in the late stages of their careers, Oakland could be on the rise again.
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This is basically how free agency is going to be in the RM era — pass on the glamorous high-dollar guys, and get a solid (if sometimes underachieving) contributor and give him a contract with a bunch of incentives.
So it is that the Raiders land Niners WR Michael Crabtree, six years after passing him up for Darrius Heyward-Bey. Crabtree had a chip on his shoulder about that, and hopefully he brings that chip with him. He automatically becomes the best receiver on the team, but there’s no reason Streater, Jones, Butler, or Holmes — any one of them or all of them — can’t perform at or near Crabtree’s level.
What this does is gives the Raiders some options for the draft. Chances are they are trying to decide between DE Leonard Williams and WR Amari Cooper, though DE Dante Fowler and WR Kevin White are probably in that discussion as well. With Crabtree on the roster, Cooper would still be nice, could be an Andre Johnson-like target for Derek Carr for the next decade, but if Williams falls to #4, they’re still decently set at receiver.