Three offensive players, four on defense, and one specialist.
That’s what the Oakland Raiders 2018 draft class consisted of, and while the nine-man class won’t touch down until later in the week, let’s take a quick look at the newest Raiders.
By the way, Rookie Minicamp kicks off Friday afternoon at the team’s Alameda, Calif., facility.
Kolton Miller, Tackle, UCLA (First Round, No. 15 Overall)
After trading the No. 10 overall pick to the Arizona Cardinals, the Silver and Black selected the massive offensive lineman at No. 15 overall.
Miller started 13 games at left tackle in 2017, and was named second-team All-Pac-12 by the league coaches.
An absolute behemoth of a man standing at 6’9”, Miller is a versatile player who can line up on either the left or right side, but regardless of where he’s asked to play, he’s excited to get to work in Oakland.
“I feel, put at either position, left or right, wherever I’m needed, I’m looking to compete and establish myself as a starter,” said Miller during his introductory press conference.
“[General Manager] Reggie [McKenzie] and I really have a lot of respect for this man’s athleticism, number one,” added Head Coach Jon Gruden. “He can pass protect. You can use him a lot of different ways. He can pull, he can redirect. He’s got a huge upside at a position that’s very hard to find.”
P.J. Hall, Defensive Tackle, Sam Houston State (Second Round, No. 57 Overall)
McKenzie and Co., headed down to Texas for their first pick on Day 2 of the NFL Draft, picking up Sam Houston State defensive tackle P.J. Hall.
The athletic interior lineman was ultra-productive during his time as a Bearkat, finishing his collegiate career with 86.5 tackles for loss adding 42 sacks.
Oh, and the man can squat 700 pounds; that has to be a good thing, right?
“I feel like I’ll fit really well on the defense,” Hall explained. “Their four-front, they want me as their three-technique, they have a penetrating defense, especially for the defensive line. And I feel that’s exactly where I’ll best fit at, getting up field, being explosive and just disrupting things. I feel I’ll fit right in and I’m excited.”
Brandon Parker, Tackle, North Carolina A&T (Third Round, No. 65 Overall)
The Silver and Black went back to the offensive side of the football with their third-round pick, and once again continued to fortify the trenches, picking up North Carolina A&T tackle Brandon Parker.
Like Hall, Parker enjoyed an incredibly-decorated career, and similar to many other young players coming out in the Draft, he’s looking forward to getting to work with Head Coach Jon Gruden and the rest of the Raiders staff.
“Jon Gruden… Growing up, the Bucs were my favorite team so I watched [him] coach them for year,” Parker said. “It’s like a childhood dream to get to play for him.”
Fun fact, Parker majored in electrical engineering, mostly because he liked to tinker with his old PlayStation 2 back in the day.
Arden Key, Defensive End, LSU (Third Round, No. 87 Overall)
The Raiders weren’t done in the third round, as they selected the explosive defensive end with their second pick in the round, No. 87 overall.
The former LSU Tiger had an outstanding 2016, but his numbers fell off last year, but even though he did see a dip in production, Key is certainly not lacking any confidence.
“I know I’m not a third-round pick, I’m a first-round talent, top five,” Key said. “I went through some situations that caused me to be a third-round pick. I’ve learned from those things and this is the consequence of me going through what I went through. I’m a better person now than I was prior to it. I’m just happy to be at the right place. I feel the Oakland Raiders is the right place for me.”
If Key can indeed stay on the field, the Raiders got some really good value in the third round.
Nick Nelson, Cornerback, Wisconsin (Fourth Round, No. 110 Overall)
Nelson played just one season at Wisconsin, but he certainly made the most of his time as a Badger, totaling a nation-high 21 pass breakups.
It’s obvious that the athletic defensive back as a knack for finding the football, but as Coach Gruden joked, now he just has to work on actually securing those interceptions.
While Nelson did injure himself at his Pro Day, there’s no indication that he’ll miss any meaningful time.
Maurice Hurst, Defensive Tackle, Michigan (Fifth Round, No. 140 Overall)
If you want to talk about draft steals, you likely have to start that conversation with Maurice Hurst.
Simply put, the athletic defensive tackle was an absolute beast during his time in Ann Arbor, and prior to the revelation of a heart condition during the pre-draft process, Hurst was regarded as a first-round prospect.
Look, it’s fair to ask questions about the health of the big fella, but according to McKenzie, Hurst should be ready to rock, at full speed too.
And if he is, look out; that’s about as good as a value as you’ll find in the NFL Draft.
Johnny Townsend, Punter, Florida (Fifth Round, No. 173 Overall)
We all expected the Silver and Black to draft a punter at some point during the three-day event, and indeed they did, picking up Townsend with their second pick in the fifth round.
Townsend enjoyed one of the best kicking careers in program history, and as a former free safety in high school, I’ll be excited to see if Townsend lays the lumber on Sundays.
Azeem Victor, Linebacker, Washington (Sixth Round, No. 216 Overall)
When asked about Victor, McKenzie said that the former Husky will make his hay on special teams, but that he’ll also be given a chance to compete for time as an interior linebacker.
The linebacking group for the Silver and Black is an interesting one in 2018, so keep an eye on Victor through training camp.
Marcell Ateman, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma State (Seventh Round, No. 228 Overall)
The Raiders rounded out their draft class with the athletic wide receiver from Oklahoma State.
With 11 wide receivers currently on the roster, Ateman is going to have to compete for time, but with over 1,000 receiving yards, and eight touchdowns during his senior year, I’ll be keeping an eye on the former Cowboy throughout the Offseason Workout Program.