Reggie McKenzie has recently stated that if he had the opportunity to use the Raider’s long lost 17th overall pick, he would’ve chosen Alabama outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw. This is no surprise as the Raider’s recently lost their top OLB, Kamerion Wimbley. It also makes sense since they will be dabbling with a 3-4 defensive scheme with Allen as the new head coach.
Although Courtney Upshaw would be a perfect fit for the Raider’s new scheme, the problem is we don’t have that pick at number 17 overall. Oakland’s first pick comes at 95th overall, the last pick that will air on your television sets on day 2. So what can we take from McKenzie being quoted on liking Upshaw at 17? He may want to select an OLB with pick number 95. Who can mirror the size, intelligence and tackling ability of the Alabama standout? Probably no one but there are some mid to late round picks that could fill the position for the Raiders. Here are a list of the few players the Raiders may have the opportunity to take at pick #95.
Bruce Irvin, OLB, West Virginia: This guy will most likely fit in playing as an OLB in a 3-4 scheme as opposed to playing as a DE. He posted a quick 40 yard dash of 4.5, about .2 seconds faster than McKenzie’s dream pick, Upshaw. He also has an inch on Upshaw but weighs about 25 pounds less (explaining the difference in speed). This guy is projected to go anywhere from late 2nd round to anywhere in the 3rd round so the chances that he falls in the arms of the Raiders is slim, but possible. I can’t imagine McKenzie and the Raiders passing on this prospect if he was to be there at the end of day 2. Smart and safe pick this late in the draft.
Sean Spence, OLB, Miami: Spence could be the next great linebacker to come out of the U, following in the footsteps of Ray Lewis, D.J. Williams and others. Sean Spence is a guy with very solid leadership qualities, physical ability and a great football IQ. Standing at just under 6’0 and weighing around 230 lbs., he is slightly undersized for an NFL OLB but he makes up for it with his play. Great decision maker, plays sideline to sideline and has a lot of pop on his tackle for his small size.
Bobby Wagner, OLB/ILB, Utah State: Wagner is a physical specimen who runs a 4.46 40 yard dash and had a 39 1/2 inch vertical leap. Very physically strong player with a lot of power behind his tackles but falls into the same size category as Spence at just 6’0 234 lbs. Undersized for an inside linebacker so he will most likely move to a permanent OLB at the next level. Wagner has a lot of developing to do with his football IQ but is a natural tackler and is great in pursuit. He might just be one of those draft gambles that can pay off or leave you burying your head at the craps table.
Overall, I think Irvin would be the best pick for the Raiders if he’s there at 95. Wagner and Spence would also be good pics but may not be ready to start right out of the gate. Reggie has been quoted saying that he will take the best player left on the board regardless of the position, leaving me to think that if Irvin is gone, McKenzie could go after a TE, CB, RB or a number of other positions. I can’t help but wonder if McKenzie is going to stick to his strategy or if his draft day excitement will have him picking by positional need.