After a disappointing 2017-18 season, The Oakland Raiders are looking to rebound. In the recent NFL Draft, the team selected nine players, filling up several holes on the defensive side of the ball, as well as gaining some protection for quarterback Derek Carr.
Round 1, Pick 15: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
In his four years in the NFL, quarterback Derek Carr has been sacked more than 20 times in three out of his four seasons. This includes 24 times in 2014, 31 times in 2015, and 20 times in 2017. Keeping Carr upright and improving the run blocking that was 25th in the league is crucial. With the selection of Kolten Miller, he is going to be an upgrade.
Throughout his time at UCLA, Miller has proven to be an effective pass and run blocker. With the lack of talent on the Raiders offensive line, Miller should be starting in week one.
Round 2, Pick 57: P.J. Hall, DT, Sam Houston State
With a pass rush that was tied for 24th in the NFL by sacking the opposing quarterback 31 times, P.J. Hall will be a big addition to the defensive line.
During his time at Sam Houston State, Hall was productive on the defensive line, totaling 42 sacks and 82 tackles. Even though he is not a first-round pick, Hall has the ability to make the same impact as one. It will take time to translate into the NFL, but Hall should be a name to keep an eye on.
Round 3, Pick 65: Brandon Parker, OT, North Carolina
In an offensive line that had problems creating holes in the running game, drafting Brandon Parker is a solid selection for the third round.
At North Carolina, Parker held down the fort on the offensive line with his pass and run protection. Even with is potential, Parker will have to fight for his playing time in his rookie year. Even though he is not a five-star prospect like Kolton Miller, Parker has the ability to make an impact with the Raiders for years to come.
Round 3, Pick 87: Arden Key, DE, LSU
In a defense that is looking to get younger and talented, Arden Key is an absolute steal in the third round. With off-the-field issues throughout 2017, Key has a short leash with the Raiders at the moment. On the field, Key is a first-round caliber talent.
The production by Key was outstanding at LSU, and will translate in the NFL. With his ability to make plays on the defensive side of the ball, Oakland may have a gem on their hands.
Round 4, Pick 110: Nick Nelson, CB, Wisconsin
After the secondary ranked 24th in the league last year, allowing 241.1 passing yards, cornerback was an obvious positional need coming into the draft. While Nick Nelson has only played one season, he still has NFL potential.
During his one season with Wisconsin, Nelson broke up 21 passes, which was the most in the nation. Even though he did not reel in any interceptions, Nelson still had an impressive season. As long as he can produce in the NFL, he could find himself on the active roster this upcoming season.
Round 5, Pick 140: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
Maurice Hurst was once a projected first-round pick that slipped into the fifth round due to a heart condition. If it was not for the heart condition, Hurst would have been a late first-round pick.
With the Raiders needing all the help they can get, Hurst could become an outstanding addition to the defense. With a chip on his shoulder, this is a player who could create first-round numbers in his rookie campaign.
Round 5, Pick 173 Johnny Townsend, P, Florida
On March 30th, the Oakland Raiders released Marquette King in a surprising turn of events. In the fifth round, the team found King’s replacement in Johnny Townsend out of Florida. With King’s salary cap and age becoming a factor, this was a smart move by Oakland.
Round 6 Pick 216: Azeem Victor, LB, Washington
Sticking with another defensive selection, Oakland added some much-needed depth at the linebacker position by selecting Azeem Victor out of Washington. During the 2016-17 season, Victor was a big name prospect. The idea of Victor declaring for the 2017 NFL Draft did not happen when he broke his leg in November of 2016. The following year, Victor’s draft stock went down drastically when he only started five games before a DUI arrest.
Round 7, Pick 228: Marcell Ateman, WR, Oklahoma State
With the team’s final selection of the draft, the Raiders decided to go get some depth at the wide receiver position by selecting Marcell Ateman out of Oklahoma State. With names such as Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson, Seth Roberts, and Martavis Bryant on the active roster, it will be difficult for Ateman to find his place.
In Oakland, Ateman will need to concern himself with making the active roster before getting starting reps.
Photo Credit Ben Margot/Associated Press