Oakland selected a running back in round three of this year’s draft.
Well, kind of.
Shilique Calhoun, the Raiders third round pick and defensive end by his primary trade, said:
“I feel like I’m a very versatile player, I can play multiple positions. I do belive that SAM linebacker works for me, I can also play defensive end. I think that I can play multiple roles and I can contribute to the team in many different ways. If he (head coach Jack Del Rio) wants to put me in at tailback, I can play a little tailback as well.”
Which is good, because the Raiders have been looking for a running back to compete with 2015 starter Latavius Murray. Del Rio touched on Calhoun’s overall scope of abilities:
“He’s a very productive young man, really understands how to rush a quarterback. He’s been an All-American and he’s been a very productive guy at a good college program.”
The Raiders top three draft selections have been defensive players, and that might be a good thing considering the Raiders allowed 259 passing yards per game last season, good for 26th in the league.
The Raiders, though, were simply taking the best player available. Del Rio said:
“It wasn’t like we orchestrated to come out with that being the case. We have a lot of areas where we feel like we can strengthen, add competition to the roster, add depth and it just has worked out that way.”
The Raiders also were middling in their team sack totals, 38 which ranked them 14th, in a three way tie with Tampa Bay and Washington.
This year is a good one to add a lot, with a major turnover in the Broncos roster, leaving the division up for grabs. It’s by far the best position the Raiders have been in to take hold of the AFC West since general manager Reggie McKenzie was hired.
When Calhoun got the call, he was actually studying players that he will play against while among family. He said:
“We were just kind of relaxing and watching T.V. and watching the draft, and we were going through it analyzing players that I played against. We were just talking about how they’ve been great players are we’ve played some really good teams and just the opportunity to have my name called would be special.”
A draft prospect studying potential opponents before he even knows what team he’ll play for?
“Yeah, of course! Studying up early!”
Calhoun’s off the field ambitions involve the criminal justice system, which he studied during his four years at Michigan State. One of his professors pledged to pay for the police academy while he was a student.
Smart money says that won’t be necessary.
The 24-year-old says he will consider a career in criminal justice when his playing days are over, but for now, considers himself a player who can contribute early in his NFL days:
“I’m a natural competitor so coming in, I’m definitely going to want to contribute in any way that I can. I see myself as someone that can come in and play on day 1. I definitely don’t feel like I’m going to take any steps backward. Like you guys said earlier, I have great guys ahead of me that can lead me, definitely show me the ropes and get me out there early so that I can perfect my play on the field.”
While competition may be stiff this year, especially at edge rusher, Calhoun likely didn’t have to do a lot to impress the Raiders. Pro Football Focus ranked Calhoun as the second best pass rusher in the draft, and according to the statistics company, may find a knack for himself in obvious passing downs.
That is, of course, if he doesn’t become the primary tailback.
Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Oakland Raiders beat writer and member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Raiders football.