One thing that general manager Reggie McKenzie has done extremely well for the Oakland Raiders is draft. Since he took over, he’s drafted Derek Carr, Latavius Murray Amari Cooper, Mychal Rivera, Gabe Jackson, Khalil Mack, Stacy McGee, and Karl Joseph. The 2017 draft is a big one, and could mean the difference between another one-and-done season and a Super Bowl run. However, there are some players that Reggie McKenzie and the Oakland Raiders shouldn’t draft.
Players the Oakland Raiders Shouldn’t Draft
Malik McDowell is a curious player. At the combine, he measured in at 6’6, and almost 300 pounds. This is an almost freakish combination of size, and there’s no question that the Oakland Raiders need more interior pressure. Assuming they don’t address it in free agency, they’ll need to draft a new nose tackle.
Malik McDowell looks like the perfect pick for Oakland on paper. He’s a massive athlete, and he could immediately help that front seven. However, he’s an extremely raw project. If it weren’t for the freak combination of size and athleticism, he wouldn’t be worth a first round pick.
However, he made some comments at the combine that were a little unsettling. He explained that coaches tried to tidy up his technique, and make him a better player but he “couldn’t really get it right” and when he tried to tweak his technique, they gave up and started trying to teach him his own playing style.
He said that he couldn’t get their style down, but when he started making plays his own way, they just said “okay, you do you”. That won’t fly in the NFL. He can’t just stroll in and dominate because he’s a great athlete. He won’t be able to dominate teams like the New England Patriots like he could against opponents like Maryland or Northwestern. The Raiders would be better off with a polished or coachable prospect.
The Oakland Raiders need linebacker help. There’s no promise that Perry Riley will be back next season, and even if he does, they need to improve. The Raiders are constantly getting beat by the running game and tight ends. In this draft, Alabama’s Reuben Foster is the number one guy.
He’s a big, physical linebacker that can really lay big hits. However, he’s not great in coverage, and he was sent home from the combine for threatening a medical official. A linebacker from Alabama that can’t cover and has off the field issues? The Oakland Raiders have been down this road before, drafting Rolando McClain only seven years ago.
The Oakland Raiders need linebacker help, but not from Foster. He doesn’t fit the team’s scheme or needs, and his off-the-field attitude problems don’t fit on the team. Defense has to be Oakland’s priority, but there are better options than Foster.
Jabrill Peppers is one of the most exciting players in this draft. Is he a linebacker? Is he a safety? Nobody really knows. At 5’11, 213 pounds, he’s probably too small to play linebacker in the pros, but he could definitely play safety. He’s been compared to everyone from Eric Weddle to Troy Polamalu, and he grew up idolizing Raider legend, Charles Woodson. In fact, that’s why Peppers went to Michigan, because that’s where Charles Woodson played in college.
However, nobody is comparing Peppers to Woodson, and the Oakland Raiders shouldn’t look twice at the hybrid player. He can’t play linebacker in the NFL, and even if he tried, he doesn’t fit Oakland’s scheme. And if Peppers is going to play safety, he’s not worth a first round pick.
Sure, he’s fast, and he’s great with the ball in his hands, but he hasn’t proved that he can play safety at all. He had one interception in his Michigan career, and he never forced a fumble. He’s not a great football player, just a great athlete. With the first round pick, you want to get a guy that’s going to step up and make an immediate impact, and that’s not Jabrill Peppers.