When the Oakland Raiders drafted Amari Cooper in the first round of the NFL Draft, they were playing it safe. Many people believe that Leonard Williams has the potential to be the better NFL player but he comes with some risks. Some believe Williams has a bad first step and will not be elite at the next level, and some even believe he will be a complete bust. The Raiders don’t run much of a risk at all with Cooper. He is expected to be a good pro at the very least and a transcendent talent at best. The pick may have led some to believe that Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie was going to play the rest of the draft safely in an effort to ensure his job is safe.
That wasn’t exactly the case.
Two of his later picks were risk/reward picks. But rather than go with off-the-field risks and draft guys like Dorial Green-Beckham or Randy Gregory, the Raiders went with guys who represented risks on the field. In the second round, they drafted defensive end Mario Edwards, Jr. and in the fourth round they drafted guard Jon Feliciano. Many expected both to be available later than where the Raiders drafted them and both are big question marks in terms of whether they’ll pan out.
Edwards is an athletic freak who can play all over the defensive line. He is already a decent run defender but struggles to create a lot of pressure in the passing game. He is super raw and didn’t produce much in college (eight sacks, 23 tackles for loss and 89 tackles in three seasons). Some believe he’s a breakout candidate. Others think it’s more likely that he never improves.
Teams at the top of the second round are expected to get players who are ready to contribute right away. With Edwards, there’s a a good chance that even if he does turn out to be very good, it won’t happen this year.
Then, in the fourth round, the Raiders took a guy who was viewed as an even bigger reach in Jon Feliciano. The Raiders were in need of someone to compete for a starting job at right guard right away and there were players on the board that many believed could do just that. But instead of going after someone like Tre Jackson who many believed was a good value in the fourth round, the Raiders drafted a guy who many saw as a late round or undrafted free agent. Feliciano is a beast of a man who could turn into a player for the Raiders, but there is a reason he was viewed as a late-round prospect. He is incredibly raw and will not likely be ready to step in and start from year one. But, much like Edwards, if the team can coach him up, his physical traits make him a guy with the potential to be very good.