September 16, 2011; Oakland, CA, USA; Darth Vader reacts after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the game between the Oakland Athletics and the Detroit Tigers at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Reggie McKenzie's 2013 Oakland Raider Draft: A New Hope

It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.”

July 15, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Star Wars stormtroopers line up as Darth Vader (center) throws out the first pitch before a game between the Washington Nationals and the Miami Marlins before at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The opening of the 1977 movie “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” pretty much sums up the draft day had by the Oakland Raiders. It is a period of hardship for the Raiders. Fans have spent over a decade without the sweet taste of a winning season. However, after years of draft busts and tears a new hope finally emerges in the form of the Jedi Knight/GM, Reggie McKenzie. He wins his first victory within the draft picks that will be just the beginning of the force returning to Oakland.

All wookies aside the Raiders were in rough shape a couple of months ago. Carson Palmer was on his way out, McFadden was without backup, the offensive line was depleted, and the defense lacked, well everything. The outlook for Oakland didn’t make it past four wins.

Free agency came and went. Oakland filled crucial holes with one year “prove it” contracts.

Terrell Pryor received some competition in Matt Flynn while McFadden welcomed a new backup in Rashad Jennings.

Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly were replaced with serious question mark players, Pat Sims and Vance Walker.

The linebackers got some talent to help Miles Burris (Kevin Burnett, Kaluka Maiva, and Nick Roach) all the while getting rid of the criminal known as Rolando McClain.

The secondary and worst aspect in Oakland added Pro-Bowl talent in Mike Jenkins and Tracy Porter.

Not bad Reggie McKenzie. Dealing with limited cap space the GM managed to take this team from utter disarray to mediocrity. Enter the 2013 NFL Draft.

Nobody can truly grade this draft until the players strap on the pads and hit the field. Until then it is all speculation. But at first glance it really seems like Reggie could not have made out better.

D.J. Hayden, the Raiders first pick, is a kid who is best known for his heart (not like Rudy). Rather his heart issue. After suffering the life threatening freak injury, Hayden has been cleared to play by doctors. Thus ends my concern with his heart. My concern or lack thereof lies within his football play. McKenzie has acknowledged the knack Hayden shows in coverage. Something Oakland has lacked since the exile of Nnamdi Asomugha. Hayden’s coverage abilities combined with his natural speed and awareness on the field will likely land him as a starter in week one. The addition of Hayden gives Tracey Porter the opportunity to excel at nickel corner which he is best at.

Apr 26, 2013; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raider first round pick D.J. Hayden answers questions during the press conference at Oakland Raiders headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Not only did the Raiders get their number one guy, but their trade with the Dolphins allowed them to add a rather interesting prospect. The very raw offensive lineman, Menalik Watson, has but a year of football under his belt. Despite the lack of experience, good coaching may end the questions that lie within the offensive line.

In the third round Oakland added linebacker Sio Moore who was pretty fired up to say the least.

“For me, I take that and use that not to brag and boast but as a chip on my shoulder because even though I can do a bunch of things I’m still overlooked. It’s a shame but it’s also a blessing because it’s the reason why I’m pissed off. Going to Oakland they’re going to get a pissed off linebacker that wants to prove why he’s the best linebacker coming out this year. I don’t care about the guys drafted before me. I play with juice. None of those guys are as hungry as me. None of those guys want to work as hard as me. I’m going to make sure wherever I go, whoever I’m with I’m going to outwork them.” – Sio Moore

Sio Moore might be a horrible linebacker and amount to nothing in the NFL. But by the sounds of it he plans on being the next cornerstone of a defense. And a round later another possible cornerstone was added to the Raider’s roster.

Oct 15, 2011; East Hartford, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies linebacker Sio Moore (3) celebrates after making an interception against the South Florida Bulls during the second half at Rentschler Field. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Wilson, quarterback out of Arkansas has been compared to the likes of Brett Favre. Many questions surround his footwork, but the upside on this kid seems huge. If Matt Flynn gets to comfortable this job might be Wilson’s to lose. (I can’t see Pryor getting a shot to start. It seems like McKenzie/Allen don’t trust the kid.)

McKenzie continued to fill holes throughout the later rounds of the draft. A blocking and a receiving tight end were drafted to fill the Brandon Meyers void. Depth was added as the Raiders backed up McFadden with a bruising potential filled back, and the receiving corps caught a big possession receiver out of SDSU. In the last round the Raiders finally attended to their defensive line by adding a small Collegiate defensive end.

These players might just look like another draft class right now. But in three or four years this class will be remembered as Reggie McKenzie’s draft that turned the Raiders back into a winning program. The class that gave the Raiders, a new hope.




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