Good draft day hauls helped spark the rebirth of the Oakland Raiders, two seasons later, the 2016 draft is not in that conversation.
The Raiders finished the 2015 season with a 7-9 record, landing the 14th overall selection in the draft. As it turns out, that pick may have been the only one that the team didn’t miss horribly on. And even that statement is a bit of a stretch. Regardless, let’s break down the underwhelming 2016 Raiders draft class.
More from Just Blog Baby
- Raiders news: Free agent TE Foster Moreau diagnosed with cancer
- Order your Jimmy Garoppolo Las Vegas Raiders gear now
- Las Vegas Raiders: 2023 NFL Draft will make-or-break David Ziegler Era
- Raiders news: Jimmy Garoppolo offered a different kind of deal
- Raiders 2023 NFL Draft: Trading down for an elite DT on Day 1
As mentioned, the Raiders made a decent selection at 14 by taking Karl Joseph, a hard-hitting safety out of West Virginia. Unfortunately, the team has yet to see the “hard-hitting” nature of Joseph translate into the NFL, but he has been a serviceable safety over the last two seasons.
Past that, the Raiders swung and missed on the rest of their picks. Honestly, the front office would probably love to be able to go back and re-draft every round following the first. Sadly, that isn’t how it works. Let’s look at where it all went wrong.
With the 44th overall selection in the second round, the Raiders took defensive end Jihad Ward. In 21 career games with the Raiders, Ward only tallied one sack. While he provided essentially no value on the field, the team was able to send him to Dallas (somehow) while getting Ryan Switzer in return. And just in case you needed more evidence to realize the pick was terrible, Derrick Henry and Michael Thomas were both on the board at the time.
Now, at the time, the team’s third round selection Shilique Calhoun looked more promising than Ward. As it turns out, they were both busts. In 19 career games, Calhoun only has 12 tackles and half a sack…half. Optimists will point out that he has a safety to his name, but as they say on ESPN, c’mon man!
As if those two picks weren’t bad enough, McKenzie and company traded up into the fourth round to get Connor Cook. Now I must admit, at the time it was enjoyable to see the front office stick it to the Cowboys, who really wanted Cook. But as it played out, the Cowboys emerged the victor with Dak Prescott.
All fans have really seen from Cook was his atrocious playoff game against the Texans. Granted, that was his first start and the Texans defense was incredible. But still, Cook by all means seems to be a bust. He couldn’t even beat out EJ Manuel for the back up job last season, I rest my case. To his credit, he is still young and could end up having good trade value.
Moving on to the fifth round, DeAndre Washington was the pick and honestly, he is really the only player besides Joseph who has provided anything to the team. He has only featured as a back-up behind Latavius Murray and then Marshawn Lynch, but he has shown flashes of his potential.
Over the last two seasons Washington has rushed for 620 yards and four touchdowns, with an average of 4.3 yards per rush. Not too shabby given the lack of workload, although you could make the point that he hasn’t earned more of the share in the backfield. Regardless, Washington hasn’t been invisible like the three previous picks.
James was not a bust in the traditional sense of the word. For a while, he looked really good and even earned a starting role. He was young and promising, but he played through an injury and it may have cost him his career as the Raiders cut him due to a failed physical. While talented, James’ future was destroyed under the former coaching staff (they shouldn’t have let him play with an injury).
Alexander is a different story. Like James, Alexander is talented and provided good depth on the offensive line. He actually started nine games while appearing in 24, often as an extra blocker on running downs. However, his release from the team was not due to injury, instead due to using PEDs.
Alexander was handed a four game suspension from the league for violating its drug policy. The team appeared ready to keep him, until he decided to skip training camp like it was a high school class. At that point, the team severed ties and sent him packing.
All in all, only two players still provide legitimate value to the team. Signs are pointing towards Karl Joseph holding down his starting role at safety. With, DeAndre Washington things can go either way. He is currently locked into a tight race with Doug Martin, Jalen Richard, Chris Warren and new signing James Butler to make the final 53-man roster. But still, he is doing more than Calhoun, Ward, James and Alexander.
Point is, the 2016 draft was wildly underwhelming and has been lackluster at best. Joseph is talented and should do much better in Paul Guenther’s new system. Washington will likely make the final roster and feature as a back-up running back, again. One could argue for Connor Cook, but until he beats out Manuel for the second string position, he is essentially useless.
The rest of the class is either gone, or in Calhoun’s case, invisible. Looking on the bright side, things could always be worse, we could be the Browns.