The Oakland Raiders added seven players to the roster through the 2016 NFL Draft, and as of Friday afternoon, all seven are now under contract.
Linebacker Shilique Calhoun – the team's third-round draft pick – was the final member of the Raiders' draft class to put pen to paper, and in doing so, he ensured that there will be no lingering uncertainty about the attendance from the team's rookies as they open Training Camp 2016 next month.
General Manager Reggie McKenzie and the Raiders' staff have found a plethora of talent in the draft, and they're hopeful that the 2016 Draft Class – from safety Karl Joseph all the way to guard Vadal Alexander – will produce similar results.
"I would say that they [the rookies] have done a good job of coming in here and working hard, kind of finding their way," said Head Coach Jack Del Rio earlier this offseason.
While all seven of the drafted rookies have now signed their deals, all seven were not been able to participate in the Offseason Workout Program, as first-round draft pick Karl Joseph was held out as he recovered from a knee injury sustained during his last season in college.
Although Joseph wasn't able to hit the field with his teammates during Organized Team Activities [OTAs] and Minicamp, he was able to make an impression on defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr.
"You see in the film, the guy [Joseph] is explosive," Norton said. "He loves ball. He's around the football a lot. He's a pack of dynamite. He's a really good football player. The more good football players you get on the team, the better you get. Anytime you have a first-round draft pick, you expect an impact player. We expect him to be that."
And as far as a timeline for Joseph's return to the field? Del Rio remains hopeful that he'll be a full go once the team reports to training camp.
"I think we feel good about the whole team coming into camp being ready to work," Del Rio said following the final day of Minicamp. "Obviously, we'll see when we get there, but that's the anticipation, that we'd have a healthy team going into camp."
While Joseph is the headliner of the rookie class, the other Raiders' draft picks certainly made their presences felt throughout the Offseason Workout Program – particularly those on the defensive side of the football.
"The early impressions of those guys, [linebacker] Shilique [Calhoun] and [defensive lineman] Jihad [Ward] and all the other rookie guys, especially on the defensive side of the ball, [I'm] very impressed," defensive end Khalil Mack said. "Seeing the guys work with their hands and seeing the hustle and the pursuit that they have to the ball. Just knowing all those different things that coach Ken Norton, [Jr.] preaches. They came in and have been doing it immediately. That's great to see."
The Silver and Black have been able to retool and revamp the roster over the past several seasons by putting together quality draft classes. Not only has McKenzie hit on his first and second-round picks such as quarterback Derek Carr and First Team All-Pro defender Khalil Mack, he and his staff have found gems in the later rounds of the draft that have been able to produce for the team as well.
While a final evaluation of the 2016 Rookie Class won't come for several seasons, getting all seven players under contract and ready for their first training camp is a good place to start.