Grading The Oakland Raiders 2017 Draft

Oct 15, 2016; Madison, WI, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Gareon Conley (8) during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Ohio State won 30-23. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 15, 2016; Madison, WI, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Gareon Conley (8) during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Ohio State won 30-23. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /
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The 2017 NFL Draft is officially in the books. Here is a breakdown with letter grades for the Reggie McKenzie and the Oakland Raiders.

The 2017 NFL Draft has come and gone. Reggie McKenzie and the Oakland Raiders put together a haul of nine picks — six defensive players and three offensive. More specifically, there was a cornerback, a linebacker, two safeties, two defensive tackles, two offensive tackles and a running back.

Let’s breakdown each pick and hand out some grades.

Round 1, 24th Overall – Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State

The first round got a little crazy, as the draft usually tends to do. With their first round selection, the Raiders made one of the more surprising picks in the round. But not because of anything that has to do with ability.

With the selection of Gareon Conley, the Raiders took a risk on a placing facing legal uncertainty. But as McKenzie said in the post-draft press conference, the team was comfortable with the available evidence that their first-round pick would be cleared of any wrongdoing. So at no. 24 overall, the Raiders landed a player many thought would be in the Top 15.

Considering the struggles of the secondary in 2016, particularly at the cornerback position, Oakland was able to add arguably the most talented player still on the board while also filling a position of need. Win win.

At 6′ 195 pounds with long arms, Conley played on the outside most of the time at Ohio State. So long-term, that’s where he projects in the NFL. He could even start there for the Raiders if he impresses enough, beating out either Sean Smith or David Amerson. Or the team could use him in the slot, as he has the agility and fluidity to succeed in that role.

Conley’s game is very well rounded — size, athleticism, ball skills, technique, and even some tackling ability. His upside is immense, and the Raiders may have found themselves a true no. 1 corner for years to come.

Grade: A

Round 2, 56th Overall – Obi Melifonwu, S, Connecticut

Obi Melifonwu could have been the pick in the first round and the selection would have garnered praise. Ending up with a player that has the upside of Obi with the 56th pick is robbery.

By now, we all know the story here. Melifonwu is a 6’4″ 224 pound athletic marvel who immediately enters the NFL as one of its best athletes, if not topping the list. With literally world-class level athleticism on his side, he has all the room in the world to grow into something special.

But the positives aren’t all athleticism related with Obi. He definitely has rawness in his game, but he can play. He has ball skills, he’s a solid tackler in the open field and he offers rare versatility that will allow the defense to use him in a variety of ways. Obi can play free or strong safety, or he could be used in some sort of hybrid role that is the growing rate of the league.

With Reggie Nelson not getting any younger, McKenzie landed the safety of the future in the second round. Great pick.

Grade: A

Round 3, 88th overall – Eddie Vanderdoes, DT, UCLA

With the secondary addressed in each of the first two rounds, it was time to focus on the front seven. McKenzie did just that with the selection of UCLA defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes in the third round.

A former 5-star recruit that was the no. 6 overall player in his recruiting class, Vanderdoes looked the part in his freshman season. But a torn ACL ended his sophomore year after just one promising game, and his junior year suffered as well. His conditioning was poor and his weight fluctuated, both of which negatively affected his play.

But even despite this, Eddie flashed some of his former self. He got his wait under control in time for the combine, cutting roughly 30 pounds from where he played at in college. His athleticism was impressive, and he started to look like that five-start recruit once again.

On the field, Vanderdoes is a disruptor with a quick first-step and an array of pass rushing moves. He can anchor well and eat up blocks, but he can also serve as a run defender on the interior of the line. Most of the negatives you’ll read surround what was already mentioned, so if the Raiders can keep that in check, they’ve got themselves a good one.

Grade: B+