The 2017 NFL Combine kicks off March 1 in Indianapolis, with several hundred of the best college prospects in the game descending upon Lucas Oil Stadium to meet with NFL teams and go through the usual gauntlet of on-field drills.
Since the Combine is practically upon us, that means that the NFL Draft isn't far behind, as the three-day event is set for April 27-29 in Philadelphia, so before our focus shifts entirely to Indianapolis, let's take a few minutes to recap the Oakland Raiders seven-man 2016 draft class.
First Round (No. 14 overall) - Safety Karl Joseph – West Virginia
With their first pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Silver and Black addressed the depth on the backend of the defense, selecting the hard-hitting safety No. 14 overall.
After missing the entire Offseason Workout Program, Joseph appeared in 12 games for the Raiders in 2016, making 10 starts in the process.
While the former West Virginia Mountaineer did miss the final four games of his rookie season due to injury, Joseph finished 2016 with the fourth-most tackles on the roster with 51. He also had one interception, six passes defensed, and one fumble recovery.
He also saw action in the Raiders playoff loss to the Houston Texans.
Second Round (No. 44 overall) - Defensive End Jihad Ward – Illinois
The Silver and Black went defensive with their second pick in the draft, picking the defensive lineman from Illinois with the 44th overall pick.
While Ward's numbers might not jump off the page (31 total tackles), he was a consistent presence on the Raiders defensive line, appearing in all 16 regular season games, making 13 starts; however, Ward was inactive for the team's Wild Card matchup against the Houston Texans.
Third Round (No. 75 overall) – Linebacker Shilique Calhoun – Michigan State
Before he was placed on the Reserve/Injured list in late December, Calhoun appeared in 10 games for the Raiders, primarily on the special teams units.
At season's end, Calhoun had totaled five total tackles, a half sack, and one pass defensed.
Fourth Round (No. 100 overall) – Quarterback Connor Cook – Michigan State
General Manager Reggie McKenzie has made it well-known that he doesn't like trading up in the draft, so he understandably made some headlines when he traded up in the fourth round to select Connor Cook.
Well, it's a good thing he did.
An exclusive look back at the Raiders 2016 Draft Class.
Life changed for the Raiders Dec. 24 after quarterback Derek Carr went down with a season-ending injury, which resulted in Matt McGloin being inserted as the team's starting quarterback for the regular season finale against the Denver Broncos.
However, as we all know, McGloin was forced out of that game early due to injury, and Cook was thrown into action, eventually starting the team's Wild Card matchup against the Houston Texans.
In his one-and-a-half games of action, Cook completed 32 passes for 311 yards, two touchdowns, and five interceptions.
Fifth Round (No. 143 overall) – Running Back DeAndré Washington – Texas Tech
The shifty running back became one of the more productive – and entertaining – draft picks for the Raiders, appearing in 14 games in his rookie season.
Washington proved to be a threat both running *and *catching the football, as he finished the year with 87 rushes for 467 yards, and two touchdowns, along with 17 receptions for 115 yards.
Sixth Round (No. 194 overall) – Linebacker Cory James – Colorado State
The former Colorado State Ram entered Training Camp 2016 as a bit of an unknown, but James actually put together a pretty nice rookie season in Silver and Black.
James appeared in all 16 games – making five starts – and totaled 48 total tackles during his time on the field.
Seventh Round (No. 234 overall) – Guard Vadal Alexander – Louisiana State
The versatile lineman proved his worth as a rookie, appearing in nine games, making five starts during his first NFL season.
His ability to play multiple positions along the line served him well, and as the season wore on, he became a valuable piece for offensive line Mike Tice's group.