Mel Kiper Gives Raiders Draft a ‘C’ Grade

May 13, 2016; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio (left) and general manager Reggie McKenzie during rookie minicamp at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
May 13, 2016; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio (left) and general manager Reggie McKenzie during rookie minicamp at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

With the 2017 NFL Draft complete, draft grades from media outlets are starting to pour in. ESPN’s Mel Kiper is not a fan of what the Oakland Raiders did.

Reggie McKenzie and the Oakland Raiders ended up with a haul of nine new players via the 2017 NFL Draft, not including undrafted free agents. The general rule of thumb is that three years of time is needed to properly evaluate a draft class, but of course, initial reactions and grades are big talking points in the days following the draft.

With every team and every pick, there is always plenty of differing opinions out there. Perhaps the most notable name in the draft industry isn’t a fan of what McKenzie and the Raiders did this weekend.

In a post-draft column, ESPN’s Mel Kiper handed out grades for every team, and he gave the Raiders a letter grade of C.

Per the article, this is the basis he uses in his post-draft grades:

"• How much overall talent did a team add, based on board position?• How effectively did they address key personnel voids?• How efficient were they in maneuvering on the draft board?"

And this his is grading scale:

"Grading scale: In my mind an A means it’s exceptional; a B is pretty good; a C is average, with hits and questions marks; a D means below average with some big questions. An F … well, keep reading."

Kiper considered the top needs of the team to be cornerback, defensive line and running back. This is his take on the Conley pick:

"“This is obviously a really difficult class to be assessing, given all that was swirling around Gareon Conley going into the draft, and without much time to gather information. I really just need to remove him from the equation here. On ability, he’s a top-15 player, and the Raiders obviously feel comfortable with what they know of his off-field situation. But that situation really transcends a discussion of player value. I do think the Raiders could have taken a few other players in that spot and felt good about it.”"

The Raiders were able to grab a Top 15 talent with the no. 24 pick, and that in itself is a win. The current circumstances surrounding Conley are a valid reason of concern, but based on all the most recent information, it’s only a matter of time before he is cleared of any wrongdoing.

On the Melifonwu and Vanderdoes picks:

"“After that, this draft stacks up as just OK for me in terms of overall value. Obi Melifonwu is arguably one of the top handful of athletes in the entire draft, but the tape doesn’t quite live up to the combine marks. That said, he has a lot of experience and hits a position of need in the secondary. Eddie Vanderdoes in Round 3 is kind of a puzzler. The pedigree is there going back to high school, but he simply didn’t perform like a third-rounder, and so you have the Raiders taking my No. 159-ranked player at No. 88 overall. He has ability, I just think he would’ve been there later.”"

In regard to what was said about Obi, Kiper is right. But that’s not really saying much. Think about it — Obi is a world class athlete, which is not an exaggeration. So unless he is a world class NFL talent, of course the tape isn’t going to live up to the combine marks. If it did, he’d be far and away the greatest prospect in history.

At 56th overall, the Raiders got a player they could have been a first round pick and no one would have been surprised. He has tremendous upside and fills a need as the potential long-term successor to Reggie Nelson.

About Vanderdoes, in my opinion, Kiper is far too low on him. Eddie struggled with his weight and his conditioning in 2016, coming off an ACL tear. Which is a concern, but in the big scheme of things, that’s a minor concern. He’s cut nearly 30 pounds since the end of the season, and an NFL strength and conditioning program will do wonders for him.

Here is what Kiper said about the rest of the draft:

"“David Sharpe provides depth along the offensive line, but I had Marquel Lee as a bit of a reach (though he could be good on special teams early), and Elijah Hood provides some short-yardage insurance if the Marshawn Lynch comeback tour isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Shalom Luani has a chance to stick. The Conley situation clouds this, and I would have liked for them to get an inside linebacker.”"

Marquel Lee felt a little early to me as well, as I had him as a target for the Raiders in the sixth round. But he’s a thumper at 6’3″ 240 pounds and he has potential to start, perhaps even on the inside. Kiper is right about Hood — he’s Marshawn Lynch insurance. Hood could potentially be stashed on the practice squad.

I wish Kiper would have assigned letter grades to each individual pick, but in my opinion, is ‘C’ grade is harsh.

What are your thoughts on the draft class?