Draft Day 2: Raiders “Tackle” Needs

Kolton Miller Oakland Raiders Draft

Was Miller a good choice for the Raiders in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft?

Another day is in the book for the Oakland Raiders on their 2018 NFL Draft quest. How did they do in Rounds 2-4? We break it down.

On a day when a whirlwind of trades dominated the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Oakland Raiders continued building in the trenches adding three talented players – one on offense and their first two defensive picks of the draft.

LIke Day 1, the Raiders came out of the gate trading the ninth pick of day two (41st overall) to the Tennessee Titans for the 56th pick in the same round, plus a third round selection.

Beefing Up the D-Line

Once the Raiders reached their pick at 57 in the second round, they surprised many by selecting PJ Hall, defensive tackle from Sam Houston State University. The stout FSC star shined in his four-year career at SHSU, finished with 86.5 tackles for loss, and 42 sacks. Add to that the 14 blocked kicks during his time at Sam Houston, and his effectiveness on the interior of the defensive line is what endeared him to the team.

PJ Hall Oakland Raiders draft
PJ Hall will improve the Raiders on the interior of the defensive line.

Despite his lack of height, head coach Jon Gruden loves Hall because of his strength and ability inside.

“Hall is an inside rusher,” Gruden said. “He’s a potential three-technique, outside shoulder of the guard, which is a critical part of this defense that we’re going to run here. With Paul Guenther, we like his production, we love his measurables.”

Hall moved to the inside his senior season and continued to improve each game. While many projected him to go in the third to fifth round, Hall fit a need for the Raiders who were high on his talent and character.

Continue to Build Line Around Carr

The Raiders were not done with the trades after the second round.

They followed up the trade down in Round 2 with a trade up to 65 in Round 3, giving up the 75th, 152nd, and 212th picks to the Baltimore Ravens.

Yeah, my mom called and she said that, ‘Maybe Mr. Davis was calling the picks down from Heaven.’ (laughter) It’s a philosophy that I have, it’s a philosophy that I learned here.Jon Gruden

Brandon Parker Oakland Raiders draft
Parker has great size and impressed the Raiders with his performance at the Senior Bowl.

The Raiders traded back up to select yet another FCS player in North Carolina A&T offensive tackle Brandon Parker. Parked turned heads, and his own fortunes, during Senior Bowl Week. He held his own against some of the nation’s best players – including four drafted in the first three rounds – and the Raiders loved his size and football IQ.

“He’s a great kid and really impressed us,” Gruden said of Parker. “His movement skills at the combine and certainly in the Senior Bowl has a huge upside. We feel like Kolton Miller and Parker have great mentors in [Breno] Giacomini and [Donald] Penn. So they have a tremendous opportunity.”

Swapping Again in the Third

After the Raiders traded the 89th and 217th pick to move up two spots to 87 in a trade with the Los Angeles Rams, they selected Arden Key, the talented defensive end out of LSU. Key was a first round talent that fell to the third round because he went to voluntary rehab for marijuana in college, and weight issues.

In a conference all with the press from Alameda, Key said he had experienced some tough times but is ready to focus on being the Raiders new outside pass rush threat. He said he was honest with the Raiders and that seemed to endear them to him.

Arden Key Oakland Raiders draft
Key has baggage but his upside was too good to pass up on.

“I was honest. I spoke up on the mistakes I made and the plan that I need,” Key said. “Now, it’s not a surprise or ‘what kind of plan do we need to set for this guy?’ This is the plan we need to set for this guy and this guy will follow the plan. That’s it. The main thing is get me going.”

Gruden was asked about Key being a classic Raiders “second chance” guy. Something the late Raiders owner Al Davis was infamous for.

“He’s had some difficult times in his young life, and I know where he’s been for the last several months, and I know what he’s been through in his career,” Gruden said. “We’ve done a lot of research on him and he has a lot to prove. We have a lot to prove. But at the end of the third round, we feel like it’s a gamble worth taking and this young man has some qualities that are rare.”

Assessing Rounds 1-3

Criticism of the Raiders draft picks isn’t necessarily focused on the talent of the players but instead on the time they selected the players. Why trade up twice to get players that might have been there in later rounds?

“I didn’t want to lose them,” Gruden said of drafting the players. “You know, you go into free agency to make additions to your team and linemen don’t get there, they just don’t get there. You can oftentimes find a cornerback, you can find a linebacker, a lot of those guys at those positions get there. But, big offensive tackles, quality defensive edge rushers, they don’t make it to free agency.”

Gruden went on to talk about the need for the Raiders to build depth throughout their roster. The addition of Key was a motivating factor for Gruden and general manager Reggie McKenzie going that direction.

“When Khalil got tired last year, who’s the third rusher? Who do we put in,” Gruden responded. “When Bruce got tired, who’s the third rusher? You’ve got to have at least three guys that can get after the quarterback because you win games with your fourth-quarter pass rush.”

The Raiders wanted to address the interior lines on both sides of the ball during this draft, and they have done that. Add picking up a high risk, but higher reward wide receiver in Martavis Bryant, and the Raiders have improved this team significantly.

Day three of the NFL Draft kicks off at Noon on Saturday.

Silver and Black Today will be on hand in Alameda and at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas for the conclusion of the draft.

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