The Oakland Raiders began part one of the Jon Gruden era earlier this week at the NFL Combine. Gruden made a lot of headlines by talking about players on his roster. However, there are several players he should have taken note of at the NFL Combine. Here are five prospects who climbed up the Raiders board after the draft.
OSU CB Denzel Ward
It’s official, the Oakland Raiders have the tenth pick after losing the coin toss with the San Francisco 49ers. Oakland would be smart to consider a corner throughout the draft since DBs Reggie Nelson and T.J. Carrie are both free agents. Gareon Conley and Obi Melifonwu have yet to be healthy, also.
OSU Denzel Ward had a break out season with two picks last year. At the combine, Ward came in at less than six-feet tall and two hundred pounds but he makes up for the lack of size with athleticism. He showed off his athleticism with a 4.32 seconds 40-yard dash and a 39-inch vertical. Those numbers are good enough to put him into consideration in the top-10 of the NFL Draft.
Other top corners like Josh Jackson weren’t quit as impressive in the athletic tests. Ward tweaked his ankle at the combine which limited his workout but he still proved that he might be the top corner in the draft. Oakland would value his quickness in the slot immediately and he could turn into a starter on the outside opposite former teammate Conley.
Alabama S Minkah Fitzpatrick
Speaking of DBs who confirmed their draft status, Minkah Fitzpatrick earned his top-ten grade at the NFL Combine. He’s not the same athlete as Marshon Lattimore last season but Fitzpatrick was one of the most dominate defensive backs in college football during his career at Alabama.
Over 40 games with the Crimson Tide, Fitzpatrick registered 9 interceptions, 110 tackles and five sacks. He had a drop off his final year but the Raiders should hope that his DB coach can get the most out of him in the NFL. Oakland hired former Alabama safety Derrick Ansley and they would be lucky to unite him with Fitzpatrick.
However, Fitzpatrick verified the athleticism that he showed on tape with a 4.46 40-yard dash and 33 inch vert. That’s not exactly the athleticism of a top pick or a no. 1 corner. Luckily, Fitzpatrick has the size and range that makes him more of a safety in the NFL.
At the combine, Fitzpatrick did good enough to keep himself in the top-10 talk but not good enough to be a guaranteed top-3 or top-5 pick. He could become a steal for Oakland if other teams overlook him because he is not Lattimore.
Va. Tech LB Tremaine Edmunds
Before the Combine, Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds was expected to shock everyone at the combine. The 19-year-old did not disappoint. At six-feet-five and 234 pounds, Edmunds ran a 4.54 forty-yard-dash and put up 19 reps on the bench. This proves he has the size and speed to start on Sundays.
Combined with his production last season, Edmunds is worth legit consideration at the top of the first round. He had 10 sacks and 32.5 tackles for loss in two seasons. Edmunds brings the range and versatility to play the outside or inside backer positions. He also has NFL bloodlines as his pops played TE in the league and his brother is a safety in this draft.
Overall, Edmunds showed that he might have the most upside at his position which is a position of need for the Raiders. The Silver and Black would be lucky to trade back and get him. Either way, Edmunds showed the raw athleticism worth refining even if costs Oakland a top ten pick.
Boston College Edge Harold Landry
Boston College edge Harold Landry compared himself to Khalil Mack at the combine. What if he played across from Mack in 2018?
Landry took a step back in production last season due to an ankle injury. However, he reminded NFL teams of his elite athleticism at the NFL Combine. Landry registered a 4.64 second 40-yard-dash and he dominated the shuttle drills.
It proves he has the explosiveness and agility to dominate the edge. This puts Landry back into consideration for a top-10 pick. Oakland better consider him given their need on the edge.
Notre Dame WR Equanimeous St. Brown
Notre Dame receiver Equanimeous St. Brown only did the bench press, interviews and 40-yard-dash. That was enough to move him up from the middle rounds of the NFL Draft and back into Day Two considerations.
St. Brown took the podium to address his name, background and junior year production fall off. He handled himself with poise and showed the intellect his family has become known for.
More importantly, the receiver ran a 4.48 forty-yard-dash and 20 bench press reps. Those athletic traits combined with his size and length proved that he is the receiver with the most upside in the draft.
Oakland needs to develop a large possession receiver and they might invest a day two pick in St. Brown to make that happen. He needs some development but he has the upside to become a dynamic receiver in the NFL.
Who are you looking for the Raiders to draft after the combine?