Raiders 1st round pick WR Amari Cooper poses for a photo with General Manager Reggie McKenzie and Head Coach Jack Del Rio. Pre-order your Cooper jersey here.
After months of speculation, endless analyses and countless mock drafts, the Oakland Raiders did what most of the experts predicted they would do. The Raiders selected Alabama WR Amari Cooper with the 4th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
It was widely thought that the Raiders would take one of two wide receivers at the top of the Draft – Cooper or West Virginia's Kevin White. Cooper played in 40 career games and caught 228 passes for 3,463 yards and 31 TDs. He won the Biletnikoff Award last year as the best receiver in the country.
Napoleon McCallum announces the Raiders Day 3 draft selections from Travis Air Force Base.
"'Coop' was on our board high from the start," Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie said. "It didn't matter about the position; it was about the player. We thought we had a chance to get a really good player and we were excited he was there."
"I would just say that when you talk about this young man coming in at this level, as a draft prospect that has not played in the NFL yet, it's unusual when words like 'polished' are thrown out, but that's what you see," Head Coach Jack Del Rio added. "He has been lined up all across the board – outside, both sides, inside the slot, moving around, even lined up in the backfield some. So he's been exposed to a lot, been utilized a lot of different ways. He's run the entire route tree."
The Raiders didn't make any moves to get back in the first round Thursday night and turned their attention to their two Friday night selections. The team took versatile players in the 2nd and 3rd rounds – Florida State DE/DT Mario Edwards, Jr., and University of Miami TE Clive Walford.
Raiders linebackers coach Sal Sunseri was Edwards' position coach in college. Edwards is happy to be reunited with his mentor. "My two years when he was there were great," Edwards said. "I learned so much from him and we developed a great relationship and now to go back and play under him again is definitely an honor."
The Raiders were able to fill a need for a catching and blocking tight end when they selected Walford in the 3rd round. Walford is confident and sees himself as, and Coach Del Rio does as well, a complete tight end. "I can hop for the ball. I'm a great pass-catcher. I'm a great run-blocker. I'm just a dual-threat tight end," Walford said. "I'm going to go out to Oakland and just compete. I'm not looking to go start right away. I'm going out there to learn from the veterans and take some of their advice, but you know I'm going to compete at the same time."
McKenzie has a history of making some Draft day moves and stockpiling picks. This Draft was no exception. The team traded back twice during Round 4 and almost doubled the number of Day 3 selections.
The Raiders again went for versatility on the final day of the Draft with University of Miami offensive guard Jon Feliciano. According to Feliciano, he can play all five positions along the line. "I had time at right guard, right tackle, left tackle, left guard and center sometimes, so I can do whatever," Feliciano said.
The Raiders selected two players out of Kansas in the later rounds – LB Ben Heeney in the 5th and CB Dexter McDonald, Jr. in the 7th. The Raiders went with two Florida products, rangy LB Neiron Ball with the second of their 5th round selections, and WR Andre Debose in the 7th.
DE Max Valles out of Virginia in the 6th round and small school T Anthony Morris out of Tennessee State in the 7th rounded out the Raiders draft class.
Valles played linebacker in college but Del Rio said the team will give him a look at defensive end.
The Raiders entered the Draft with seven selections and left with 10 prospects. The team will get their first look at them in person when they take the field later in the week with a rookie mini-camp.