Raiders take defensive lineman in second round
Oakland drafted Illinois defensive end Jihad Ward at the No. 44 spot in the second round of the NFL Draft Friday night.
The Raiders chose to address their defensive line depth with uncertainty surrounding second-year lineman Mario Edwards’ Jr. neck injury.
The Oakland Raiders decided to strike first at the safety position with the No. 14 overall pick in an effort to add the final missing link to a fiercely competitive secondary.
West Virginia safety Karl Joseph doesn’t bring the glitz and glamour in comparison to previous first-round picks.
Many Raiders fans hoped to land UCLA linebacker Myles Jack or Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson, as both prospects slipped past the top 10. General manager Reggie McKenzie obviously went with the favorable choice, which also fills a roster need.
Critics questioned McKenzie’s decision to select another ailing defensive back at the top of the draft, but Joseph’s skill set flashes exceptional ability as a versatile safety.
According to an interview at West Virginia’s pro day, Joseph hopes to join his new teammates during training camp.
Of course, cornerback D.J. Hayden’s injury history replays in frustrated Raiders fans’ minds, but it’s a less dire situation. Gurley suffered an ACL injury in November 2014 and took the field 10 months later in September. Joseph tore his ACL in October and seems optimistic about the rehab process.
As for the player on the field, Joseph exhibited man coverage ability and a strong follow-through on his tackles, and Fox Sports draft analyst Joel Klatt raved about his leadership skills. With good signs indicating a speedy recovery, the Raiders have solidified their secondary.
What’s next on the agenda? Is it a defensive lineman, linebacker or running back?
We’ll update the top-100 big board and walk through another mock draft for Rounds 2-7.
Raiders select safety Karl Joseph of West Virginia
The NFL draft seemed to play right into the Raiders’ hands, with UCLA linebacker Myles Jack falling to them at the 14th spot because of concerns about his surgically repaired knee.
Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie instead reached into his back pocket and selected West Virginia safety Karl Joseph.
Joseph, coming off knee surgery himself, was thought by many to be a late-first-round pick — he thought maybe early second — but the Raiders loved his hard-hitting ability.
At 5-foot-10 and 205 pounds, Joseph is a bit undersized for a safety — but he had five interceptions in four games last season before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament.
McKenzie wouldn’t discuss Jack, but league sources confirmed that Jack thought the Raiders were his landing spot at No. 14 after he had a private workout with them last week.
“He is a guy that is very versatile,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said.
McKenzie admitted that he thought about trading back to get Joseph but the opportunity didn’t present itself.
A video of a top-five prospect, Mississippi offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil, showed him wearing a gas mask while taking a hit from a bong; it was posted on his Twitter account.
Raiders owner pledges to move to Las Vegas
On the morning of the NFL draft, Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis told reporters in Las Vegas that “The Las Vegas Raiders are currently undefeated.”
Davis appeared Thursday alongside soccer icon David Beckham and casino owner Sheldon Adelson before a committee studying the idea of a $1.4 billion stadium, and said he wants to move the team to Las Vegas and is willing to spend a half billion dollars as part of a deal for a new stadium in the city.
Adelson, owner of Las Vegas Sands casino, wants to build a 65,000-seat stadium just off the Las Vegas Strip to host UNLV football games, soccer matches and major concerts.
The Raiders have a one-year lease in Oakland for next season — with an option for two more seasons — and Davis said the team would stay there until a new stadium is built.
UNLV’s current stadium has 40,000 seats and could host a preseason game, but that isn’t suitable for regular-season games, Davis said.
The Raiders played in Las Vegas in an exhibition in 1964 on a baseball field, and that has been the only game by future NFL teams in the city.
Reid praised the Raiders and the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Authority for negotiating a lease agreement for next season, buying themselves time to work out a deal.
Backers said they would ask for a special session of the Nevada Legislature in August to approve diverting some room tax funds for the stadium.
There are owners who will feel very strongly about continuing to support our position on gambling, there will be owners that will have the view of whether that’s the best market for us to be in, whether there’s truly the fan support there, they’ll look at, obviously, the stadium alternatives, and I think that’s what you do in any relocation.
With the future of the Raiders in Oakland very much in question, owner Mark Davis announced his hope to move the franchise to Las Vegas on Thursday.
According to ESPN.com’s Paul Gutierrez, Davis revealed his stance on the campus of UNLV and said he is prepared to put up $500 million of the $1.4 billion needed to build a domed stadium, while Sands Corp. would contribute an additional $150 million.
Davis also said he wants to turn “the Silver State, into the silver and black state.”
Retired soccer star David Beckham was present as part of his promotional obligations to Sands Corp. as well, and he mentioned the importance of a potential move: “To bring a great organization like the Raiders to Las Vegas is amazing, but it’s bigger than that.”
While there has been some resistance to putting an NFL franchise in Las Vegas over the years, due largely to gambling, Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole recently reported the league may be softening its stance:
The Raiders signed a new lease with the O.co Coliseum in February, but it is only guaranteed to keep the team in Oakland through the 2016 season since it is a one-year deal with two one-year team options, per the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com).
While the Raiders were passed over for a potential move to Los Angeles this offseason in favor of the Rams, another move may be forthcoming.
With the Raiders looking like a team on the rise and a large portion of the potential Las Vegas stadium set to be privately funded, the move could be desirable for both sides and a logical solution to the long-running stadium issues in Oakland.
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Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie and his draft-day decision-makers can put a bow on a productive offseason.
After signing linebacker Bruce Irvin, offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele, safety Reggie Nelson and cornerback Sean Smith, the final pieces to a playoff-contending roster could join the Silver and Black over the next few days.
For Raiders fans, it must feel like an extended gift-giving holiday season. Oakland will start the draft with 10 selections to fill shallow voids on the roster.
For the first time in a long time, the Raiders look poised to contend for an AFC West title. However, an additional impact player or two on both sides of the ball should push Oakland to the forefront as a popular dark-horse playoff team heading into the upcoming season.
In a scenario similar to tic-tac-toe, McKenzie hopes to connect three consecutive impact draft classes to fortify the Raiders’ future.
This draft tracker will provide instant analysis and an overall grade for each rookie selection.
Some still don’t give the Warriors credit for winning the NBA championship, pointing to other team’s injuries last postseason.
Others won’t begrudge that “hot” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie has mastered the NFL draft, saying that Khalil Mack, Derek Carr and Amari Cooper fell into his lap the past two years.
[...] just like when Mack unexpectedly fell to the fifth pick in 2014, there seems to be a growing possibility that an impact defensive player might be on the board when the Raiders are on the clock.
UCLA linebacker Myles Jack, once a lock top-five pick, is sliding over concerns over his right knee.
The Raiders held a private workout with Jack last week, and it would be hard to pass on such a playmaker, despite the knee concerns.
Jack, at 6-foot-1, 245 pounds, also played running back for the Bruins.
There also seems to be a chance that Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves is slipping, or getting passed as teams trade for a quarterback or zero in on offensive tackles, pass rushers or Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Hargreaves could play right away against slot receivers, and would be a logical pick, as would Houston cornerback William Jackson III, at No. 14.
The Raiders could take a flyer or trade down for Mississippi defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, Mississippi State defensive tackle Chris Jones or West Virginia safety Karl Joseph.
Nkemdiche fell out of a window while high on marijuana and was suspended for a bowl game.
The quick, 6-6, 310-pound defensive tackle was the No. 2 prospect in the nation coming out of high school, and like Mario Edwards Jr., the Raiders’ second-round pick last year, underperformed in college.
The Raiders need a safety, but the second and third rounds seem to be the sweet spot to get some quality help.
Reggie Nelson and Nate Allen will hold down the fort, but a young, skilled, aggressive hard hitter would be someone Raiders fans haven’t had for a long time.
After allof the speculation, prospect reports and endless mock permutations, you’ve reached the final predictions for the Oakland Raiders draft.
General manager Reggie McKenzie and head coach Jack Del Rio revealed a collaborative approach in selecting this year’s incoming rookie class in a predraft press conference, per the team’s official website. The Raiders’ decision-makers have eight picks to fully assemble a playoff contender for the upcoming season.
During the press conference, McKenzie mentioned taking the best player available but opted not to go into specifics about differences in opinions in the war room.
Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller talked to a source inside the organization who dropped a polarizing name as a potential target: Robert Nkemdiche:
A coaching source in Oakland said the Raiders would love Elliott to fall to them, but a realistic option is a big defensive tackle or left tackle of the future, per the same source. Two names to remember, according to the coach I talked to, are Chris Jones and Nkemdiche.
It’s still unclear whether they’d take Nkemdiche at No. 14 or prefer to grab him later in the round. Then again, it’s speculation. The Raiders organization rarely gives direct information on potential roster moves, but a prospect with red flags in the top 15 seems like a significant risk for a team hoping to get back into the postseason.
Nonetheless, there’s a consensus leaning toward a defensive lineman as the focus for the first or second round of the draft.
During the predraft session, Del Rio expressed satisfaction with recent signings to revamp the secondary. Don’t expect to see a cornerback at the No. 14 or No. 44 spot.
In addition to the defensive line, Oakland must address the linebacker position with a talent comfortable covering running backs and tight ends in space. Linebacker Malcolm Smith mixed good outings with poor tackling and coverage lapses during the previous season.
Running backs Roy Helu Jr. and Taiwan Jones underwhelmed as No. 2 options in the backfield. Jones became a liability due to ball-security issues. Helu underwent two hip surgeries in the offseason, per ESPN’s Adam Caplan. Oakland will likely select a running back between Rounds 2 and 3.
On a brighter note, the Raiders don’t have glaring voids on the roster following an active free-agent period.
As previously mentioned, the secondary received a much-needed upgrade with cornerback Sean Smith and safety Reggie Nelson signing onboard. Offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele fills a void at right guard. Linebacker Bruce Irvin adds another pass-rusher to the defensive front.
The tide continues to turn in Oakland. Now, it’s time to put the cherry on top of an offseason filled with shrewd roster moves. How does the final big board and mock draft pan out? We’ll go through results of an actual simulation, per Fanspeak.com.
Davis will attend a meeting with Nevada tourism officials Thursday to discuss moving to a proposed $1.3 billion domed stadium in Las Vegas, league sources confirmed.
Davis would then return to the Raiders’ facility in Alameda for the start of the NFL draft.
The 65,000-seat domed stadium on a 42-acre lot along Tropicana Avenue, a few blocks off the Strip, is being proposed by casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and Majestic Realty.
The stadium also would serve as home for UNLV and host professional and international soccer games.
The NFL historically has frowned on any ties to Las Vegas and legalized sports gambling, refusing to hold an exhibition game there three years ago, and Davis would need the approval of three-fourths of the 32 owners.