The 2013 Oakland Raiders have proved themselves to be an up and down team that has some interesting young players that can help in the future. When the off-season began general manager Reggie McKenzie cut some key players to help ease the salary cap woes. McKenzie promised to bring in some high impact rookies to help alleviate the pain of losing some big names. The 2013 NFL draft was also Reggie McKenzie’s first chance to show the Raider Nation what he could do with a first round pick. Although most pundits expected McKenzie to select Sharif Floyd with the third pick, McKenzie traded down to select DJ Hayden. Unfortunately, the 2013 draft class has been marred by injuries and poor play which has made them severely ineffective this year. Keep in mind that all of these grades are for the first half of each players rookie season so things can change drastically over the next eight games.
1st round pick DJ Hayden
DJ Hayden was playing at a C level during his first seven professional starts but he got absolutely embarrassed today against Riley Cooper and the Eagles. Hayden was expected to have growing pains this season because he missed training camp and part of his senior season at the University of Houston because of a catastrophic injury to his aorta that nearly killed him. So far this season Hayden has 25 tackles, 2 pass deflections and 1 interception. What worries me about Hayden is that he does not show that “it” factor that superstar cornerbacks are supposed to have. When you are on an island covering the best athletes in the world, you should have some swagger that will help you get that mental edge. Former Raiders great Nnamdi Asomougha also struggled early on in his career so I am not saying that Hayden is a bust or will be a bust. Right now Hayden deserves a D grade for his first half season in the NFL.
2nd round pick Menelik Watson
Going into the draft the Raiders did not have a second round pick because of the brilliance of Mr. Man Manicure Hue Jackson’s trade for Carson Palmer. McKenzie traded the number 3 pick to the Miami Dolphins for their 12th and 42nd pick which turned out to be DJ Hayden and Menelik Watson. The Raiders desperately needed Watson to be a solid contributor this season because of the injuries to the offensive line. However, Watson seemed to go down within minutes of stepping out on the field. Watson finally made his NFL debut in spot duty against the Eagles today. Obviously, Watson has done nothing to help the Raiders this year so he will get an incomplete grade. I still think that Watson has the talent to help solidify the right tackle spot for the foreseeable future so it will be exciting to watch him play the second half of the season.
3rd round pick Sio Moore
From the moment UCONN linebacker Sio Moore donned the silver and black uniform of the Raiders he brought a special swagger with him. Moore was not shy in admitting that he felt that he was shunned by the NFL and that he was the best linebacker in the draft. Although Moore has not been playing like the best linebacker of his draft class, he has shown some flashes of greatness. So far this year, Moore has 12 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Moore has shown that he could be a very good pass rusher but he has disappeared for big chunks of the game. Last week against the Steelers, Moore’s big game got him named the NFL rookie of the week. Moore deserves a B- grade so far this season because he has been too inconsistent. However, I think Moore has sky high potential and could be a star pass rusher for years to come for the Oakland Raiders.
4th round pick Tyler Wilson
For the next decade, the selection of Tyler Wilson will go down in Raider lore and not in a good way. Like fellow SEC quarterback Matt Flynn, Wilson’s Oakland career seemed to be over before it started. Wilson put up a great mini-camp that put him in the competition to be the starting quarterback. However, Wilson looked completely lost in training camp and was beaten out by undrafted rookie Matt McGloin. Even though most rookie quarterbacks get a couple of years to prove themselves, Wilson was cut by the Raiders and was completely ignored by every other team which led him back to the Raiders practice squad. The Tyler Wilson selection gets a GIANT F from me even though an F doesn’t fully explain how awful of a draft pick this was.
Great NFL teams can’t afford to miss on their top four draft picks. Raiders fans know all too well what NFL busts can do to a franchise. Through the first eight games the Oakland Raiders top four picks are playing at a D level. I still think that DJ Hayden, Menelik Watson, and Sio Moore can help the team down the line but they did not do much to help the Raiders through the first half of the season.