If the NFL Draft were a game of Battleship, in the past few years, Reggie McKenzie would have a lot more hits than misses.
Yes, he's certainly hit on the Khalil Macks and Amari Coopers of the world, but where he's really excelled is finding productive players on the second and third days of the Draft – look no further than Derek Carr, Gabe Jackson, Mario Edwards Jr. et al.
McKenzie delivered another quality Draft in 2016, adding seven new players to the Raiders' roster, and once again, it was a Draft Class that was met with praise from the around the league.
Let's see how the national media graded out McKenzie's 2016 Draft Class.
Oakland Raiders: B
Top needs: DL, ILB, DB, RB
Reggie McKenzie is on a roll. After free agency you could make the argument the Raiders have one of the top five offensive lines in football, and they need to do some work on defense (even with the addition of Bruce Irvin). Karl Joseph is a stud at safety, My No. 13 overall player, and the Raiders got him with the 14th pick. Jihad Ward has first-round talent and they got him in Round 2. Shilique Calhoun can rush the passer and has a lot of production to point to. That's a solid Round 3 value.
In moving up for Connor Cook in Round 4, the Raiders jumped in front of both Dallas and Kansas City, two teams I think could have picked him. That's good maneuvering and not only does he provide some insurance against a Derek Carr injury, he's a guy who could become a valuable trade chip. I like the addition of DeAndre Washington, because not only can he play, this is the right range to go after potential running back starters. Ultimately, a solid draft. I know we tend to overestimate how much rookies can help a team, but the defense in particular looks better.
Day 1 grade: B
Day 2 grade: B
Day 3 grade: C
Overall grade: B
The skinny: Joseph is a very talented player who certainly deserves first-round consideration. He did miss a lot of last season over a non-contact injury, however. And was the 14th pick too early to secure his services? If he turns out to be another Earl Thomas, then the answer is a resounding "no."
In an effort to rebuild the defense, Oakland took two Big Ten defensive ends in Ward and Calhoun. Both were fair value where they were chosen, and should help the team rush the passer more effectively. I expected someone to go get Cook, but not a team that has a young starter and a solid young backup as well in Matt McGloin. They didn't give up much, though, in the trade and Cook could be a good investment. Washington gives the Raiders a very good third-down back option.
Oakland Raiders: B
May as well start with Cook, even if he is almost certainly no better than a backup for the near future. It came as a surprise when Oakland pulled the trigger, but it makes sense: the Raiders were working with an extra sixth-rounder, Cook's contract will be about $1.6 million cheaper for 2016 than Matt McGloin's, and the ex-Spartan could drum up his own trade market with a strong preseason or two. The Raiders' first pick, Joseph, came off the board higher than expected (and possibly higher than deserved), yet there is no question he upgrades the secondary if he stays healthy. Calhoun is a better player right now than second-rounder Jihad Ward, a developing talent. Think of Washington as a younger, more explosive Roy Helu option out of the backfield. GM Reggie McKenzie's lone regret may be failing to address the cornerback spot. —CB
Best pick: It was their first one. They landed a playmaking safety in Karl Joseph, who helps a position of need. He is coming off an ACL repair, but he has star ability.
Questionable move: Drafting Connor Cook in the fourth round -- and trading up to do it. Why? If Derek Carr stays on the field, he's a backup. What's the point?
Third-day gem: Fifth-round running back DeAndre Washington is a productive player who could fill a Darren Sproles-type role for the Raiders. He isn't a big back at 5-feet-8, but he is tough enough.
Analysis: The Raiders continued their recent success of having good drafts. I love their first three picks in Joseph and defensive ends Jihad Ward and Shilique Calhoun. They upgraded their defense in a big way.
Analysis: The secondary still needed help, and Oakland got the draft's best safety at No. 14 overall in West Virginia's Karl Joseph. Moving up in the fourth round to draft Michigan State QB Connor Cook is a sign GM Reggie McKenzie hasn't forgotten his Green Bay roots. While this isn't an ideal situation for Cook, who will now be competing for a backup job, it's a long-game move for the Raiders.
A lot of talent evaluators really like Karl Joseph. But in today's game, few safeties are worth the 14th overall choice in a draft. It's questionable whether Joseph is such a game-changing player. Trading up in the fourth round to get QB Connor Cook is an intriguing move. It's not a great situation for Cook, who dropped all the way to Day 3 of the draft and now is stuck behind a productive and established young passer in Derek Carr. But sometimes things work out for Michigan State QBs chosen in the fourth round as an understudy to a franchise QB. Just ask Kirk Cousins.
College action photos of the Raiders 2016 Draft Class.
Day 1: While Joseph was No. 30 on the PFF draft board, taking the top safety prospect in this class at No. 14 is still a good pick, as Joseph brings great versatility to the Raiders' secondary. He made plays all over the field in coverage early in 2015, whether playing center field, in the box or in man coverage — all part of his impressive 240-play sample before injury ended his season. Joseph can also work downhill in the running game, and the Raiders are hoping that his 17 missed tackles from 2014 are a thing of the past.
Day 2: Ward did little to inspire confidence at Illinois, although he could develop into a good run defender. He had the 69th-best overall grade among edge defenders in the class and the 100th-best pass-rush grade at -0.3. On the other hand, Calhoun ranked second in the nation with a 44.0 pass rush grade, and while he's not great in the run game, he can get after the quarterback early in his career. His 144 total pressures over two seasons were second only to No. 3 overall pick Joey Bosa (who had 145 for Ohio State).
Day 3: Cook is good value at the top of the fourth as he has a chance to at least become a tradable commodity down the road. He was ranked at No. 75 on the PFF draft board. Washington posted the third-best elusive rating in the class at 86.1, and he forced 67 missed tackles on 271 touches last season.