The Oakland Raiders ended this year’s draft in a similar fashion to the way they finished last year. Defense, defense and more defense.
Of the five players drafted Saturday, three were defensive backs and two play on the defensive line. And while they passed on a number of high-profile steals on offense, the team looks a little better on paper.
The Raiders’ first pick of the fourth round (No. 107 overall) was defensive tackle Justin Ellis from Louisiana Tech.
Nicknamed “Jelly,” Ellis is a stout 6-foot-1 and tips the scales at 334 pounds. He’s viewed as a run stopper by most analysts, and projects to eat up blockers nicely, allowing rushers to come off the edge.
Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie defined what Oakland likes in Ellis, with one simple sentence:
“We want to do the pushing around. You do that with big people.”
During his final season with Louisiana Tech, Ellis recorded 48 tackles, 5.5 for a loss.
The Raiders’ next pick in round four ranked in the top five of SFBay’s Big Board: Cornerback Keith McGill of Utah.
McGill, a 6-foot-3 specimen, was taken 116th overall. The pick was acquired by the Raiders after the team traded back in the third round.
McGill is a boom-or-bust type prospect according to experts, with extreme measurables and a pretty decent track record. He likes to boast about his accomplishments, too, with a picture on his Twitter profile reading:
“71 pass attempts, 12 passes completed, 16 percent pass completion rate, 13 pass break ups, 12 passes defended.”
Gotta say, that really might be something to brag about.
Another corner, Travis “T.J.” Carrie, was taken by Oakland in the seventh and final round (No. 219). The 6-foot, 206 pound Carrie started 12 games last season for the University of Ohio and intercepted four passes, two of which he took for touchdowns.
The pick that followed, 235th overall, was used to draft defensive end Shelby Harris. Hailing from Missouri State, Harris was labeled a “tweener” and was taken off draft boards by several teams due to character concerns.
Harris was kicked off his college team — a matter that he would not discuss — and sat out all of last year. He said, instead, he watched:
“It’s not necessarily something to prove, but to my teammates and to my coaches, I want to prove to them that I’m a better person. I’m not what the papers and everyone says I am. I am a good person with a great background and I’m a great team person, and that’s what’s important.”
Reggie McKenzie also commented on Harris, touching on a draft pick from last year, Stacy McGee, who has worked out thus far:
“When we get into a situation where you give a player an opportunity, a second chance, especially when the issues haven’t been like it was in the past for him, and he’s learned from it. … The key is how you feel after you converse with the kid.”
McGee was drafted in the sixth round last year, and was able to step in an make an impact during the later part of the 2013 season.
The Raiders’ final pick of the 2014 draft — coming from the Terrelle Pryor trade — netted safety Jonathan Dowling. Another small school prospect, Dowling recorded 9 interceptions and 8 forced fumbles in last two seasons and has special-teams experience covering kicks.
In all, the Raiders drafted eight players and are currently in the process of signing undrafted rookies. McKenzie would not reveal the names of his targets, stating that “the kids change their minds all the time.”
Some of the names that have been linked to the team as undrafted rookies are running Back George Atkinson III, wide receiver Mike Davis, tight end Scott Simonson, fullback Karl Williams and wide receiver D.J. Coles.