Oakland Raiders should draft Will Sutton


Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive tackle has been a need for the Oakland Raiders since the team let go of Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour, last off-season. Defensive Tackle play is critical to stopping the run and the pass. Lucky for Oakland, there is talent at the position in this years draft, but each prospect posses different question marks about work-ethic, size, and productivity after their college careers.

The Oakland Raiders have a lot of needs, but being able to add a defensive tackle like Will Sutton in the middle rounds should insure their ability to address other needs.

Scouts seem to be all over the place on Arizona State’s Will Sutton. He has been mock drafted everywhere between the second and fourth rounds of the draft. Sutton also has his fair amount of question marks, but he possess value in the middle rounds of the draft, for the Raiders

Here is what Bleacher Reports’ Matt Miller had to say about Sutton:

"Sutton was a top player in 2012, but he lost his way in 2013 as weight gain and an odd use from the coaches saw his impact decline. He has upside when playing near 290 pounds and unleashed as a pass-rusher, but it’s all hope that he can become the 2012 version again."

If the Raiders draft Sutton, they will bank on him being the pass-rusher he was in 2013. Is so, they could be getting the interior pass-rushing anchor they have needed the past years.Throughout his tenure at ASU, Sutton lined up as a nose tackle, defensive tackle, and defensive end in multiple fronts. That is something Jason Tarver’s defense values.

As a junior in 2012, Sutton recorded 41 solo tackles, and 13 sacks for the Sundevils, before later being named an All-American. It seemed like Sutton was heading towards the top of draft, until he put on weight for his senior season.  He only registered 25 solo tackles, and four sacks, which is why his stock started to plummet.

Sutton did not stand out at the senior bowl, either. He did not finish anywhere near the top of his position in any of the Combine tests, where his results were average at best. Combined with his 6’1 frame and short arms, question marks are raised about his ability to produce at the next level. All of this should make Sutton available when the Raiders select in the third and possibly fourth round.

After watching some of Sutton’s game tape in 2013, you see a player who has a knack for getting into the back-field with his hand movement and first-step quickness.

In this game against USC, Sutton displays the pass-rush move and quickness to get a sack. However as the tape goes on, Sutton also looks tired on some plays and his pad level gets high.  This could be attributed to the extra weight Sutton gained as a senior, but he already has weighed in at 303 pounds which is almost 20 pounds less than what he played at this past season. The trend persists in the tape against Stanford and UCLA, as well. However, you also see Sutton shooting gaps, in the backfield, and around the ball.

His hot and cold motor brings his conditioning into question, and he may be viewed more as a rotational player than starter. The good news is, the Raiders only need Sutton to be a rotational player, right away. Sutton can have a season or two to adapt his body to the NFL. Sutton will have to get his conditioning right to be the dominate 3 technique he was in college. Good conditioning will be key to keeping his motor running hot on every down.

As for his small frame, Sutton has the hand moves and short area quickness to play in the league. He needs to work on his pad level and leverage against the bigger guards of the NFL, but that is something that can be taught. Sutton’s strength at the next level is another question mark, as he can get mauled by bigger linemen and good double teams.

in 2012 against Cal, Sutton had a big 3 sack game. He does look more explosive compared to 2013, but he also does not look as strong, so the added bulk will be needed at the next level. He fought off a lot more double teams in 2013, and without the added bulk he probably would have gotten eaten up more.

What Sutton has that should make him a valuable player at the next level, is natural play making ability and football instincts. Sutton is not an athletic specimen, but he is a smart football player, and that should fit with the culture Reggie McKenzie is trying to build with the Raiders.

For the Raiders, he should be projected as a pass rushing 3-technique. His ability to make stops behind the line of scrimmage make him a valuable rotational piece for Antonio Smith in running situations. Sutton could also slide into the one-technique on third downs, so he can really get after the quarterback.

Moreover, Sutton can flat out get into the backfield, which is something the Raiders need in their run defense. They already have Pat Simms to eat blocks, and Sutton should compliment him if he continues to shoot gaps at the next level. Sutton is also a solid wrapper, when tackling the ball carrier, so he should make plays in the running game at the next level.

Added, Sutton’s father Mickey also played in the NFL as a special teams contributor and corner back for the Rams. This does not mean Sutton’s bloodlines make him a can’t miss selection, but it means he knows how to mentally and physically prepare for the game. This is something he has prepared for his whole life. Not to mention, he played in two California Division 1 State Championship games with the Corona Centennial Huskies. Hence, Sutton is a competitor who should fit in with the raiders.

Lastly, Sutton possess some swagger the Raiders defense needs. You can see the fire in Sutton, when he makes a play. He enjoys playing the game and competing.

Sutton has been the forgotten man among the prospects in this years’ draft, and I am sure the former Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year is hungry to prove his worth. McKenzie added players with chips on their shoulders in Free Agency, and he should continue that by drafting Sutton in the late rounds. It could be a fruitful investment for the Raiders if Sutton can develop into the player he was tracked to become in 2012.

All videos courtesy of Draftbreakdown.com *