Following four seasons at the University of Miami, Nesta Jade Silvera decided it was time for a change of scenery.
The Broward County, Florida, native packed up and moved out west to attend Arizona State University as a graduate transfer. Former Sun Devils defensive coordinator and now Raiders linebackers coach Antonio Pierce was one of the people who helped recruit Silvera to the desert.
For his final collegiate season, the 6-foot-2, 305-pounder set career-highs in games played (12), total tackles (56), pass deflections (three) and sacks (1.5), helping set the ground work to accomplish his ultimate goal of making it to the NFL, achieved as he was selected by the Raiders with the 231st pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
"I'm loving the West Coast, loving the desert," Silvera said of going from one desert city to another. "I had a top 30 visit with the Raiders earlier this month and just got a good connection with a couple of the staff. ... I'm just blessed to be a Raider."
Along with his prior relationship with Pierce, Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham had the chance to do a proper evaluation of Silvera at the Reese's Senior Bowl earlier this year. Despite only being with Graham, who served as head coach of the National Team, for the one week in Mobile, Silvera said the experience made a lasting impact on him as a football player and is grateful to have the opportunity to continue to work with him.
Raiders General Manager Dave Ziegler stated he put trust in a lot of the people around him throughout his evaluation of Silvera. He began to make strong considerations to select him based off rave reviews from Graham, Pierce and current Arizona State Head Coach Kenny Dillingham – who Ziegler coached at Chaparral High School in Arizona.
"A lot of penetration, a lot of plays where he's in the backfield and just a lot of plays where he's finding the football and making tackles. Those guys are hard to find," Ziegler said, giving his initial thoughts of the defensive lineman.
"Sometimes these guys that are transferring and things like that can get lost in the shuffle a little bit, but Antonio Pierce knew him from his recruiting days while he was at Arizona State. ... There were some connections for us just to learn a little bit about his journey, learn about who he was and he was also a guy we brought in for 30 visit. We got to spend some time with him in the building and, yeah, really excited that he was there."
The former Hurricane and Sun Devil now finds himself a part of an interior defensive line unit which includes returning starters Bilal Nichols and Jerry Tillery, free agent signings Adam Butler and Jordan Willis as well as 2022 draft selections Neil Farrell Jr. and Matthew Butler. Looking forward to going through rookie minicamp, OTAs and his first NFL Training Camp, he said he'll be soaking up everything in the process to improve his overall game.
"I'm trying to hone in on everything," he said. "I'm not perfect at anything, I'm not 100 percent great in anything and I'm trying to hone in on every little thing in my game. That's what I'm really trying to do, just work my butt off in every facet of my game and grind. That's all. There's no specific part, it's every part of my game that I'm ready to work on."
With the 231st overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Las Vegas Raiders defensive tackle Nesta Jade Silvera.