Raiders Free Agent Grades

It’s been a while since I’ve contributed around here, so bare with me a little. I was thinking about grading the Raiders free agent signings individually in the comments section, but quickly realized we had a ton of signings and that it’d probably be best if I write an article instead. Pull a little of my own weight around here.

Much has been made of the signings in Oakland as Jon Gruden begins his tenure, that he’s following the same old recipe as his last stop. Opting for aging veterans, than the youth that typically wins out in today’s NFL.  I think it’s all overblown, and just writers looking to generate clicks, and right now there are few things in the NFL that will generate more clicks than a Raiders hot take.

Lets take a look at all of the Raiders free agency moves heading into the last few weeks before the draft.

CB Rashaan Melvin – A+ – The biggest need the Raiders had going into the offseason was at cornerback, and the Raiders added a guy that was a lockdown corner in 2017 on a cheap 1 year, $6.5M prove it deal. One of the best signings in all of free agency this offseason.

S Marcus Gilchrist – A- – The Raiders added a solid veteran DB on another small 1 year, $4.5M contract in Gilchrist. Gilchrist logged over 100 snaps at S, LB, and slot CB in 2017. Paul Guenther needed that versatility in his secondary given all the question marks it had when he agreed to be the team’s new DC.

S/CB Leon Hall – A- – A sneaky good signing by the Raiders, given Hall’s plethora of experience in Guenther’s defense. Hall can contribute in many ways off the field, and can still contribute in a limited capacity on the field as well.

LB Tahir Whitehead – B+ – One of the Raiders other big needs was at LB. Whitehead is another player that adds a lot of versatility with his ability to play all 3 LB positions in Guenther’s defense. The only reason this grade isn’t higher is due to the size of contract Oakland doled out, 3 years $18M.

WR Jordy Nelson – B – One of the bigger surprises so far this offseason, was replacing the often controversial Michael Crabtree with a more calming presence in Jordy Nelson. Given the size of the contracts that were being handed out to WR’s this free agency, Oakland has to feel good about getting Nelson for 2 years and $15M despite his age. I didn’t see a player that lost much of a step in his advanced age, I’m only a little hesitant about the signing because of Jordy’s injury history.

LB Kyle Wilber – B – Wilber adds some versatility to the Raiders depth chart, but more importantly he’s been a rock in the Cowboys special teams units since he was drafted in the 4th round of the 2014 draft.

DE Tank Carradine – B – No risk signing with some upside. Solid depth along the defensive line with some ability to contribute in ST’s.

WR/KR Dewayne Harris – B- – A solid Patterson replacement, I haven’t seen the details of this contract, but I’m assuming its in the $2-3M range annually.

FB Keith Smith – C+ – I was originally pretty high on this pickup, trading an overpaid fullback in Olawale for some draft positioning and a cheaper, better run blocking FB in Smith…. but then I saw the Raiders gave Smith a 2 year $4.2M contract.

RB Doug Martin – C – Again, little risk with some upside. If Martin makes the team, it will be because he looks like 4.9 YPC Doug Martin, and not 2.9 YPC Doug Martin in training camp.

CB Shareece Wright – C – I think you could do worse at #4/5 CB than Shareece Wright. Nothing flashy, but a decent add.

OT Breno Giocamini – D+ – The guy is not good. I have a sneaky suspicion that he will actually make the team, and be relied upon at times, which I don’t like. Hopefully the younger guys step up in training camp. I think the ability is there for Sharpe, Kirkland, Alexander and Ware, they just have to do it.

Other FA signings that I’m not going to bother elaborating on S Reggie Nelson, QB EJ Manuel, QB Josh Johnson, LB Emmanuel Lamur, P Colby Wadman, LS Andrew Depaola, TE Derek Carrier, TE Lee Smith, WR/KR Griff Whalen.

Oakland has been busy this offseason. I thought the Raiders did a solid job adding a few starters and key contributors at positions of need but maybe more importantly rounding out the bottom of the roster with high character veterans. I think McKenzie and Gruden raised the floor of the Raiders depth chart significantly on financially savvy deals. The moves should buy management a couple/few years to hopefully add more difference makers via the draft, something they haven’t been able to accomplish the last couple years.

After signing the best QB in free agency, what’s next for Denver?

As free agency starts it appears Denver will sign Case Keenum to a 2 year 36 million dollar deal. This move leaves huge questions marks for Denver moving forward. Is this going to be Case’s team for the next two years and beyond? Or will Denver still use their 5th overall pick to grab another quarterback? Denver’s draft strategy heavily depends on how those questions will be answered. Will we take that fiery competitor? Or will they take This Guy Fucks out of Notre Dame?

Option 1.

Draft a quarterback at 5. We saw the Chicago Bears sign Mike Glennon to a short deal last year. Similar to what Denver will sign Keenum for. The Bears still used a high pick to take Mitch Trubisky. Ultimately Trubisky ended up starting most the year, and now the Bears have released Glennon. The move ended up being low risk for the Bears as they have their franchise guy in Trubisky, and they easily moved on from Glennon. This could be Elway’s goal with signing Keenum. If that’s his plan Denver should be able to get a guy they like at 5 whether it be Darnold, Mayfield, Rosen, or God forbid Allen. Out of those 4 guys the only 1 who needs a year to sit is probably Allen. Which may mean Denver needed a short term veteran to play for a year while Allen learns from the bench. That could mean Elway wanted Allen all along, hence Keenum signing a short term deal.

Option 2.

Stay at 5 and draft a guy who can make an impact instantly. This guy fucks, aka Quentin Nelson, would be the best case scenario for Denver at 5. He’d be able to step in at the left guard spot instantly and hopefully be a Pro Bowl caliber player for a decade. Denver’s offensive line was improved last year, and when fully healthy they looked better than expected. So TGF would only go to solidify an improving group. Personally if Denver couldn’t get TGF I’d want them to take Barkley. He can run, catch, and block making him an every down back. The last 2 seasons we’ve seen teams, Dallas in 2016 and Jacksonville in 2017, use high picks on running backs and those teams both won their divisions that season. The idea you can’t use a high pick on a running back is starting to become an outdated idea.

Option 3.

Trade back. If those two prospects are gone at 5 Denver should be able to trade back. Buffalo has a huge question mark at quarterback after trading Tyrod Taylor. Denver might be able to get a deal done trading their 5th pick for Buffalo’s 12th and 22nd picks. Other mid round picks would be involved I’m sure, but who has the time to speculate on that. One of those top quarterbacks should be available at 5, so this move would make sense for both teams. With the Gotsis arrest this week Denver could use those picks to take BPA on both the offensive and defensive lines.

Option 4.

We resign this guy to take us back to glory.

Overall it’s unclear whether Elway actually has faith in Keenum to be a long term solution. Or if Keenum is even capable of that. But the draft will let us know what Elway is thinking and how much he actually believes in Keenum. Until then we can all argue back and forth about how much Denver fucked up by not getting Kirk Cousins.




2018 Compensatory Draft Picks (AFC West)

When the salary cap era of the NFL began in 1993, many changes came to the league other than just the eponym of this era. One of those changes was the introduction of unrestricted free agency. Another was to reduce the number of rounds in the draft from twelve to seven. However, while there have been officially seven rounds ever since, in truth the total number of draft picks equate to eight rounds. This is due to advent of compensatory draft picks, a entire round’s worth of picks that are distributed among the ends of rounds 3 through 7 that are awarded to teams that lose certain Unrestricted Free Agents (known as Compensatory Free Agents) to other teams.

The formula used to award compensatory draft picks, developed by the NFL Management Council, has never been publicly revealed. However, in the years since 1994 outside observers have been able to determine much of how the formula works, and have created projections in an effort to demystify how compensatory picks work, a process that has confused many an NFL fan. Since 2017, the NFL has allowed Compensatory Picks to be traded like any other pick.

This article looks at the picks awarded to teams in the AFC West. Let’s get started.
Kansas City Chiefs – 6th Round (209 Overall)
Los Angeles Chargers – 7th Round (251 Overall)
Denver Broncos – 3rd Round (99 Overall)
Oakland Raiders – 6th Round (210, 212, 216 and 217 Overall)

Looking at the awarded picks, the Broncos and Raiders won the west. The Broncos received a pick in the top 100. They need a quarterback and already have the number 5 overall pick. With this additional pick, they can package picks and move up if they really like one of the quarterbacks coming out. They could also stay where they are, sign on of the top name free agent quarterbacks and use this pick to get a top offensive lineman.

The Raiders have 4 picks all at the end of the 6th round. Jon Gruden will more than likely want to move up in the draft and get 1 or 2 blue chip players for his horrible defense (minus Mack). I could see him packaging these picks to move up in the draft in either the 2nd or 3rd round to get and extra defensive stud.

The Chiefs have been busy this off season. They traded their starting quarterback and their number 1 cornerback. They picked up a 3rd round pick and CB Kendall Fuller for QB Alex Smith. The terms of the Peters trade have not been released yet but it can be assumed that it is going to be a premium pick or picks. Having an extra pick never hurts.

The Chargers are a better team than most want to acknowledge. Having an extra pick, even a low one, does not bode well for the rest of the AFC West. If this team can stay healthy and fill a few holes, I believe they are a serious contender not only in the division but for the conference.

I think will see the AFC West be very busy during the draft and in free agency. Stand by for what I believe will be a wild ride for the entire division.

Draft Preview

Well now that the season is over and the Chiefs are preparing for their usual extremely brief stint in the playoffs it’s time to look to next year and the draft. We will start with QBs because Rivers is old, the Broncos 3 QBs together don’t make one decent high school player, Carr has let his eyeliner officially turn him into a lady, and the Chiefs are obviously getting 15 first round picks for Smith.

Sam Darnold USC

First of all, get a haircut bro.  Dudes with weird orange hair shouldn’t be flaunting it around.

Anyway, Darnold had a stellar freshman season and capped it off with a solid performance in the Rose Bowl or some other bowl against Penn State. He’s relatively mobile and has a great pocket presence that allows him to navigate the pocket like Luke Skywalker flying an X-Wing to blow up the Death Star.

He has the capability of making all the throws and does so with touch allowing his receivers to make plays. He has had a lot of talent around him and it has helped him to look better in some situations but he is by far the most NFL ready QB in college right now.

In 2017 Darnold took a couple steps back in the turnover arena, seemingly giving the ball away like he was channeling his inner Philip Rivers, yet he played significantly better in the second half of games.  He has not officially declared for the NFL draft but I do not think he will stay at USC. It will do nothing for his draft stock and teams will be looking to him to be a day one starter at the next level.